I am back from my conference spree in Italy, and I have brought back a good number of ideas. The OSS 2005 was particularly interesting, and I was struck by the presence of many industry representatives, and particularly by the presence of people from the Business Software Alliance, Microsoft and the European Patent Office. Does this mean that OSS has gone mainstream? It seems to me that the worries by some FS activists may be coming to fruition, and OSS is in danger of being hijacked by corporate and commercial interests. The implication that Microsoft and the BSA might join the open source bandwagon could spell trouble.
Another interesting development from the conference was the presence of some public administration types who talked about the public push towards adopting open source. This worried me because in some cases, there is a considerable amount of public expenditure into supporting FLOSS models. I don't think that it is appropriate for government to put their weight behind a specific model of software development.
As for the conference itself, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Although this was not a legal conference, there were a number of papers that were extremely interesting. I was surprised by the width and depth of research in Open Source Software, particularly with regards to the success of the business model and the organisational and strategic aspects of OSS projects.
The quality of the actual papers was very high, although the actual presentations often left considerable room for improvement. People must understand that PowerPoint is a tool, and that droning with a boring voice will send people to sleep.
Here is a list of some papers that I liked:
- Measuring Success of Open Source Projects Using Web Search Engines, D. Weiss.
- Fun and Software Development, B. Luthiger.
- Evolution of volunteer participation in libre software projects: evidence from Debian, G. Robles et al.
- Open Source software, intrinsic motivations and profit-oriented firms. Do not firms practise what they preach? A. Bonaccorsi and C. Rossi.