It’s just data

Rights vs Responsibilities

There are all sorts of interesting responses to Ken's inner thoughts on openness. My point of view seems to be closest to Sterling's. In fact, my thoughts on the subject are very much related to, and again quite distinct from, Ken's thoughts on rights. And indirectly related to what lead to my parody of the Creative Commons licenses.

Since code costs essentially zero to distribute, my first thoughts are not on what rights I want to assert, but what obligations I wish to assume. If you look at software licenses, both commercial and open, this is something that they are careful to enumerate. In most cases, it essentially comes down to: "if it breaks, you get to keep both halves". This is harder to get away with if you are a commercial vendor, but most try anyway.

If I choose to keep source to myself and I know and accept that others are depending on it, I feel that I have an implicit obligation - even if I received no recompense for their depending on me.

If somebody copies something that I have done, then generally I am quite flattered. If they chose to give me attribution, I am OK with that as long the recipient takes responsibility for making the copy.

If somebody makes a change to code that I wrote, my first thoughts aren't "what right does he/she have!", but instead, "tag, you're it!".

I do distinguish between dumping software and opening up the development circle. For example, the RESTLog server implementation is currently *dumped*, that is I post the code and if you want to change it, knock yourself out. I have done the same thing with the client-side code. That's easy to do.

On the other hand hosting Aggie on SourceForge and letting other developers in with CVS access is completely different. That was the kind of openness I was referring to. Intellectually I know there isn't much of a difference, emotionally it took me a while to "get over it". Having great guys like Ziv, Simon, Ingve, and Eric working on Aggie helped considerably.

Posted by joe at

"dumping" is clearly an emotionally laden term. Let me approach this from another angle...

Most of us know at least some html. Most didn't learn it by reading a book, or reading the specification, or by taking a class. We did it by "view source". The source we are viewing was not necessarily made for the purposes of release, but many times we can learn from what we see.

If that is considered dumping, then I would like to see more of it.

Posted by Sam Ruby at

Sorry, I didn't mean dumping with any negative connotation. I'll refer to it as *posted* code henceforth.

Posted by joe at

It seems I share your philosophy on responsibility when it comes to source code release. Additionally, I tend to feel that users of my software should have access to source code I provide so they aren't solely dependent on me when they need features or fixes.

Posted by Dare Obasanjo at

Code ownership...

Sam Ruby has a great attitude about code ownership...from Rights vs Responsibilities If somebody copies something that I have done, then generally I am quite flattered. If they chose to give me attribution, I am OK with that as long the recipient...

Excerpt from Xarg blog at

Social Contracts

My post regarding support in open source software, seems to have generated some interesting responses, which lead to a discussion over IRC, which he posted on his weblog. After mulling this all over for awhile, and thinking about it in the context of Jamie Zawinksi's and Miguel De Icaza's excellent posts (rants :), and a weblog discussion with, Sam, Joe and Ken, I have come to the following conclusion. A social contract is implicit, however, it varies depending on how much control you give your users. Open developer communities, such as the PHP project, have a very loose social contract. Users are empowered as developers: if there is a problem, you are given the means to fix it. In fully open developer communities, the users are full partners, and therefore the onus is distributed onto the entire community. No person has a greater claim, nor a greater responsiblity than anyone else. On the flip side you have commercial development, which fosters a strong separation between the user and developer communities. In such communties, the vendor has a greater responsibility because the users have less rights. Most open source communities probably fall somewhere in the middle. The Linux kernel is one example of an open community where some people have more rights, and also, therefore have more responsibilities. Module maintainers have control as to what goes into their portions of the code, the onus is therefore on them to test and integrate patches from users. It should also be noted that... [more]

Trackback from Sterling Hughes


License Wish

Patrick Mueller  Bingo.  I’ve mocked the CC in the past, but quite frankly, I’m not happy with any of the popular license choices.  My focus isn’t on maximizing my revenue, avoiding becoming “exploited”, or even changing t... [more]

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Haloscan going the way of the dinosaur

Haloscan is getting upgraded to Echo: Once presented with the upgrade message, Haloscan users will have 2 weeks to make a decision. You will have the following two options. Upgrade to Echo for $9.95/year – all your comment data will be transitioned...

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