Retrospective

Here’s the article posted to the Berkman site after my Fellows’ Luncheon presentation there on Tuesday.


As I mentioned at the beginning of my comments at lunch, the best way to simplify your message is to sleep with Doc Searls the night before. please: don’t read too much into that declaration. I experienced a small epiphany last night while listening to Doc’s side of a conversation about the best way to characterize the open source movement.  “Open Source Software is an unprecedented explosion of productivity, with the demand side supplying itself,” Doc said. 

We all know the reasons for the high quality of OpenSource Software (OSS): many eyes squash all bugs, people working in public seeking peer cred, etc. But I hadn’t thought about why they’re so productive. Then I realized it’s because they never get bogged down with all the meta conversations that drag down Managerial Capitalism: “Who’s paying for this?” “When do we get approval?” “Who gets credit for this?” Yada, yada. I wasn’t really listening to Doc’s conversation, but the “OSS” acronym started rolling around in my head. Open Source Software. What about an Open Source Society? Only the first exists, but we can imagine two OSS movements:

OSS1 = Open Source Software (a result, but also a movement)

OSS2 = Open Source Society (a dream that needs movement)

And they both need organizational tools. OSS1 has a perfect match of organizational needs and organizational tools because the developers wrote those tools as they became a movement. SourceForge and Trac are great examples. OSS1 wouldn’t exist without the community’s organizational tools. But there’s more. Individual OSS1 Developers use dozens of disparate tools and websites to organize their work:

NEED RESPONSE
Personal soapbox Set up a blog
Public Index of their interests Blogroll
Media hosting Youtube.com
Interest profile – express their values Technorati tags, etc.
Collaboration; Action Requests Sourceforge; Trac
Group content and community-forming Drupal; MySpace
Events & invitations Meetup; eVite; WebDav calendaring
Dynamic news and thoughts RSS aggregators

But the developers of OSS2, whose work we desperately need if we are to escape from the political specialists who’ve hijacked governance, don’t behave like that. Many of the people who are best qualified to be producers of OSS2: a new Open Source Society, are grandparents. Yep. They’re society’s best judge of the core values we should maintain, but they’re also the least technical among us. The OSS2 developers we seek to serve are ready and able to form groups and describe their pain and hopes. Just like OSS1 developers, they need an organizing environment suitable to their skills. But in their case, we need to provide a collaboration mall with all the tools they might need as they become more engaged. We who seek to serve these producers of democracy must surround them with a suite of accessible collaborative tools that make sense to them and encourage them to be as productive in producing the imminent wave of people-produced government as are the producers of OSS1 – Open Source Software.

Dance with the one who brung ya’

All the organizing capabilities must be on the activist site that wants to energize its base. Unlike OSS1 developers, OSS2 people won’t go use some other widget to achieve your campaign’s goals on your behalf.

That simple truth is what kept the Dean campaign from scaling past about 600,000 members. We at Open Resource Group feel that the collaboration mall we’re rolling out over the next four weeks is the first campaign-in-a-box that’s good enough to criticize. Better yet, our suite of tools is flexible enough to quickly improve.

And, we’ll be sprinkling the OSS1 dust on it so we get some of that productivity that Doc brags about. Case in point: Our first volunteer developer showed up on Tuesday at Berkman.

1:28:01 AM    

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