Can Google build open source communities

Is Google really good at being part of an open source community?
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive

While the Googlers want to talk today about improvements to GMail for mobile, there remains a serious concern for you to discuss this weekend.

Is Google really good at being part of an open source community?

There are three types of mobile source projects:

  1. One-company projects.
  2. Multiple-company projects.
  3. Community projects, which may or may not have a commercial arm.

Google has proven it has great open source developers. An open source project that is headed by Google will get the resources it needs to move forward, assuming Google feels that is in its interests.

But to succeed Android can't be that type of project. It has to run with a number of companies providing input and sharing the management.

That does not seem to be happening. It seems to be entirely a Google shop.

At Google and Blog Michael Martin is now asking openly how well that is working. He quotes a newsgroup post from an Android Engineer calling Google itself a "bottleneck," asking for help. The post drew some good responses.

A company that dominates its project has a tough time getting code contributions, even if its licensing and terms are well down the open source incline or the open source development incline. That may be unfair, but life is unfair.

What IBM manages to do best, in its open source relations, is to manage its contributions and communities so multiple players all feel they are participating. A lot of this is done by pushing open source into a separate development effort, Eclipse.

So would Google be less of a bottleneck if it spun out projects like Android into separate organizations? Or is Android so important to Google that it needs to acknowledge the need to do most of the work itself, and just git ur done?

Something to think about over the Easter weekend. Sometimes the best way to get big fast is to stay small. If you have worked alongside Googlers in an open source project please feel especially free to chime in here.

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