[TOS] Open/Collaborative development as a focus for the textbook? (Re: First draft of textbook: introductory chapter (foreword?))

Ross Gardler ross.gardler at oucs.ox.ac.uk
Thu Sep 10 21:09:30 UTC 2009

2009/9/9 Matthew Jadud <mjadud at allegheny.edu>:
> Hi all,
> On Wed, Sep 9, 2009 at 14:26, MJ Ray<mjr at phonecoop.coop> wrote:
>> Personally, I'd prefer you to call it simply "free software" or
>> "cooperatively-developed software", but FOSS or FLOSS is OK.
> A small comment: "cooperatively-developed software" may not be 100%
> correct in all instances, but I like the fact that it describes the
> behavior of the developer, rather than trying to capture
> features/philosophies surrounding the code/artifact. It focuses the
> discussion differently: instead of being a discussion of terminology
> and philosophy, it is a discussion of behavior.

In our work in UK academic sectors we talk more of "open development"
than open source or free software. We point out that the FLOSS
licences were created *after* the cooperative development methodology.
In fact, the term open source was (in part) originally coined to draw
attention to the fact that it is more than an licence issue: the first
sentence of the OSI website is "Open source is a development method
for software that harnesses the power of distributed peer review and
transparency of process."

Unfortunately, over the years, this has been forgotten and most people
focus on the licence rather than the methodology the licence is
supposed to protect. That is not to say that the ethical stance taken
by free software advocates is not important, it does need to be
addressed, as does the fact that it can often be a distraction from
the importance of the open/cooperative development methodology.

However, there is no formal definition of what open development is. It
is not described by either the four freedoms or the open definition.

We've been working with some people to define an "open and agile
development methodology". See draft 2 at
http://wiki.oss-watch.ac.uk/OpenAndAgileDevelopment - input is most
welcome. This will, over time, come with a range of supporting
documents (actually there are already many on our site).

> I guess it appeals because 1. the book has a practical feel (mostly
> about behavior), and 2. the notion of collaborative software
> development applies equally well to all software projects, not just
> open vs. free vs. closed. From the professor's perspective, it helps
> make it clear that the book is about supporting the teaching of
> collaborative software development practices (in the context of *OSS
> tools and projects).



Ross Gardler

OSS Watch - supporting open source in education and research

More information about the tos mailing list