Larry Rosen: 'Good time' not fast enough for open source/standards

Summary:Two recent posts of mine -- one about the Apache/OASIS snafu and another that uses that snafu as an example of how commercial software vendors' long-time dalliance with open standards may turn out to be deals with open source devils (for them) -- have drawn heated debate regarding the confict over differences in open source licenses and those of so-called open-standards.

Two recent posts of mine -- one about the Apache/OASIS snafu and another that uses that snafu as an example of how commercial software vendors' long-time dalliance with open standards may turn out to be deals with open source devils (for them) -- have drawn heated debate regarding the confict over differences in open source licenses and those of so-called open-standards.   Although he is speaking on his own and not as representative of OASIS, Andy Updegrove who provides legal counsel to OASIS has chimed in a both blogs.  In the more recent of his two Talkbacks, Updegrove (who in his own blog predicts that the licensing conflicts between open source and open standards will one day be reconciled) gives a history lesson based on his 18 years of working with consortia and claims that that history will repeat itself.  According to Updegrove, the industry has been on a long term march towards completely open and unencumbered standards and that as inevitable as they may be, the milestones -- many of which represent pain points for the "establishment"-- take time.  "Good time" he calls it.  But Larry Rosen, one of the lawyers that pioneered the open source movement and one of the 29 signatories on a call to boycott OASIS' specifications has chalked Updegrove's comments off as rhetoric.

Via e-mail, Rosen told me:

Andy is being tremulous as usual. His counsel to me all along has been to go easy, push less, wait for people/companies to convince themselves of the value of open source and open standards. I'm no more willing to let Andy dictate the pace of movement toward open standards than I am to let Bill Gates tell me when we should build an open source alternative to Windows.  This is not about convincing companies and standards organizations that open source is right or humane or a profitable business model. It is about demanding that our programmers and our customers be allowed to implement and use software standards without having to pay our friends (e.g., currently IBM) or our enemies (e.g., currently Microsoft) for the pleasure of doing so. "Open standards" is a corollary to "open source." Ultimately we can't have the latter without the former.

Simultaneously, on e-mail, I wrote to Updegrove (in response to his "Good time post")  and said "[I saw your post]. It's  interesting what Microsoft did to IBM in the early 90's. New models come along all the time.  Ultimately, there's a cost that's associated with resistance.  As long as the companies you speak of are comfortable with that cost, more power to them.  Sun, which open sourced SOS today, may have it right.  It's not waiting."  Updegrove replied with a clarification -- one that to some extent, placates my response as well as Rosen's:

Actually, what I was talking about in the post (although it may not have been clear) was also the people involved in setting standards, and standards strategy.  First they have to believe it, then they have to learn about it, then they have to plan strategy around it, then they have to execute.  I wouldn't be surprised if 10 years from now someone is writing business case studies examining how something so radical happened so fast.  Things may seem slow in the moment that, from a historical and a human nature perspective, are actually moving at warp speed.  It takes a long time to turn a fleet of battleships around.  In this case, many of them are making amazingly tight turns.

I guess the question of the day is "Can they be any tighter?"

Topics: Open Source

About

David Berlind was fomerly the executive editor of ZDNet. David holds a BBA in Computer Information Systems. Prior to becoming a tech journalist in 1991, David was an IT manager.

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