As a single-track conference, Monktoberfest’s submissions are extremely competitive. I was not selected.
Why Apache Is Bigger Than Google
Immaterial of Google’s stock valuation, I’d argue that The Apache Software Foundation is a more important factor on the growth of technology and it’s impact on how humans work together on distributed efforts than Google is.
- While Google may stay at 80% of global search market share, software from the ASF is in over 95% of all servers and computers humans use on the internet today. I’d challenge attendees to find a commonly made general purpose computing device that does not have ASF code in it somewhere.
- The innovation acceleration that the ASF pioneered in the technology industry greatly expanded the technology available - both to Google and everyone. Before the ASF, there was no neutral place where business competitors could collaborate. Now, we have Hadoop, Spark, and over a dozen hot big data and streaming tools from the ASF, being contributed to by most of the major software companies.
- The project-focused social models the ASF uses as the Apache Way have been explicitly and implicitly copied in a wide variety of other open source foundations and projects - including scientific and non-computer areas as well. Having the example of how some minimum governance and expectations, and keeping the focus on a sharable common good is changing how people work together everywhere from charities, businesses, and governments. While there are many other groups pioneering some open group work in new areas, the ASF led the way, proved the model, and continues to provide an example - even if not everyone outside the technology industry realizes how big it is.
- The ASF’s goals are simple: to be here in 50 years, still helping like minded communities build great software. Even for popular and cash-heavy corporate giants, not many companies have a realistic goal like that.
More to the point, the ASF does all of this with 98%+ unpaid, volunteer effort. While some Apache committers get paid for their code by employers, all governance, outreach, mentoring and the like is done by volunteers. We know people working for passion will stick to it longer than people working for money. With the ASF, we have a group that can keep that passion focused on building even more software - and providing better models for distributed human projects.
Who Owns That Open Source Brand?
Do you really know who owns the brand behind the top open source projects you rely on? Code is infinitely forkable; brands and communities are not. Engage in an interactive session reviewing top open source projects, and be surprised when you learn which projects are truly independent, and which are really vendor-owned, and how well their governance model works.
You don’t have to get involved in branding: but you do need to know who truly controls the direction of the open source technologies that you rely on every day. Far too many individual developers and companies rely on a wide variety of open source tools that come from different projects. How do you accurately evaluate the security, stability, and potential for future support around an open source project? How can you find if your chief competitor truly has a lock on a project’s governance and future direction? How well do projects define their governance, and what are the chances for hidden power struggles behind the scenes?
The power behind a project’s brand is not always obvious. Come discover who governs some key open source project brands, and what might happen to governance when someone goes IPO or gets bought out. Learn how to keep governance of the project truly independent and welcoming – or how to properly own and run your own open source brand.
Understanding licenses and maintenance value of using FOSS products is well understood. But the process of governance - and how that affects key open source software product’s futures - is not always understood or even seen in a competitive marketplace. Understanding brand ownership and the project governance of popular FOSS projects is important to having a stable and predictable set of upstream components to base your business on.
Note1: I’m doing a project to quantify the governance and trademark policies for all the major FOSS foundations and projects, so I’m already collecting the core data for this talk over summer 2017.
Note2: If you want a break in the schedule, I think this would make an excellent 5 minute Lightning Talk. I could serve as a quick and thought-provoking break between two other talks, with just enough examples of well-known FOSS brands and who really governs/owns the brand to show the importance of this topic, and then be done.
Shane is founder of Punderthings℠ LLC consultancy, helping organizations find better ways to engage with the critical open source projects that power modern technology and business. He blogs and tweets about open source governance and trademark issues, and has spoken at major technology conferences like ApacheCon, OSCON, All Things Open, Community Leadership Summit, and Ignite.
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