[TOS] Teaching materials, or textbook?

Greg Dekoenigsberg gdk at redhat.com
Wed May 13 19:30:05 UTC 2009

On Wed, 13 May 2009, Ross Gardler wrote:

> My initial response was "use Fogel's book", but your mail neatly 
> identifies the difference between this book and Fogels Producing Open 
> Source. I therefore suggest, a textbook supported by links to community 
> reviewed/rated resources would be the right way to go. The initial focus 
> being on the book, but in researching the materials for the book we 
> should start compiling the initial resources list.

I see no reason not to perform these tasks in parallel, to some degree. 
I mean, we've already got a huge list of resources, including all the good 
stuff at OSS Watch.

Frankly, I think that having a concrete goal -- producing an actual 
textbook -- makes the work of compiling that list of resources much more 

>> http://cs.anu.edu.au/students/comp8440/lectures.php
> I've not reviewed this (I'm catching up on email in my one day in a 
> fortnight without email, sorry). What I would say is that if it is 
> there, in use, and has the support of anyone willing to put the effort 
> into turning it into a book outline then I like it ;-)

Looks like we've got a few outline proposals.  I'd like to take some time 
to flesh out a strong outline based on all of those proposals.

>> Third, various people agree to write a chapter.
> I have experience of collaborative authorship. Put bluntly it is a real 
> pain. There will be no consistency between authors on a chapter and no 
> consistency between chapters. What you end up with is an unreadable 
> document. There is no opportunity for the reader to "get into" the style 
> of the book (because there is no consistent style).

I have experience of collaborative software development.  Put bluntly it 
is a real pain.  ;)

> In my opinion there needs to be a "content and style" editor involved
> earlier then your current fifth step. In fact they should be involved
> in the first step. Proof reading and the like can happen later though.
> However, the job of "content and style" editing is a hugely time
> consuming. Especially when one is bringing together a significant
> number of contributors as may be the case here.

Yes, well considered.  I think I'm up to this job, having had a fair 
amount of editorial experience both inside and outside of the software 
world -- but if we can find an editor at O'Reilly or elsewhere who likes 
the idea and wants to help out, so much the better.

> Who has final say on content? How are conflicts resolved?
> If we appoint a couple of "content and style" editors then I'd propose 
> the benevolent dictator model, with one of the two editors having veto.

I've definitely got benevolent dictator experience.

>> Sixth, we publish it online under a creative commons license.
> Which one? This is a huge question, one I will take up when I have more 
> time if nobody does so. Things to consider:
> - we want maximum take up (implies allowing commercial use and
> possibly not requiring share alike)
> - reuse of existing materials may dictate a varied licence policy

I agree that NC is a bad idea, but not going with SA may pretty seriously 
inhibit the kind of resources we can incorporate.  Of course, going with 
SA might do the same thing.

I expect that the license we choose may well end up being a function of 
the licenses of the best content we identify.  For now, I'm comfortable 
leaving this question open until we are forced to answer it.

> - which jurisdiction? I'd want UK, the majority here are USA, but
> significant numbers are other territories (can we allow the user to
> select jurisdiction?)

Again, a question to be answered later, I think.

>> Seventh, we take it to O'Reilly and use the proceeds to fund the further
>> development of TOS.  :)
> We should take it to O'Reilly the moment we have a decent book outline
> and appointed editors. We should have professional help during the
> authoring process.


>> I think this plan is quite practical.  Within six months or less, we could
>> have a damned fine textbook.
> I think six months is *very* ambitious for a volunteer developed text 
> book, I think it will take that long to edit it (even if we pay an 
> editor). However, this comment is not intended to discourage the effort 
> to drive forwards. By doing so we increase the chances of delivering in 
> six months and proving me wrong - I like that ;-)

did I put that kidskin glove...)

>> The question: who's willing to contribute?
> Myself, my team and our existing resources are all willing to get behind 
> this project (assuming a compatible licence strategy), this is in line 
> with a work package of our current funded work.

Does this mean that you will need a conclusive answer to the license 
question before you will be willing to contribute resources?

I think that, in any event, our first task is to produce an outline that 
achieves rough consensus, so I'll focus on that for now.

Our second task, I now believe, is to get in touch with O'Reilly to get an 
initial feeling of their interest.  I'll drop Andy Oram a line to pitch 
him the idea.


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