Monday, February 4, 2008

A Brief History of Open Source and A Sneak Preview of its Future

This was the title of a talk I was part of giving at MIT Friday along with a long-term friend and colleague Valérie Frayssé. It was part of the Computational Research in Boston (CRiB) seminar series and was quite well attended, as we nearly filled up one of the auditoriums in MITs Stata Center. I would like to thank Alan Edelman and Steven Johnson for inviting us and organizing this event.

There were many questions about open source licensing and I was quite impressed by how much effort some of the researchers have put into understanding the licensing issues. The questions also reflected different concerns by different people - a couple of very different concerns were clearly illustrated by the following questions: "How many lines of code does it take to be considered a copy?", "How do I choose a license that assures that I always get acknowledgments?", "How can I enforce my license (especially wrt acknowledgements)?", and a discussion about how licensing works for sharing government contracting work while keeping it at different security levels.

I loved the fact that the questions were very different from the ones I typically hear in a commercial environment, but they do reflect the concerns of a very interesting portion of the open source contributors. What do you think they particularly care about?

Researchers care about a license which

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