I'm afraid one of the recent posts here has given an open source leader some homework. So if he's not at his favorite watering hole this weekend, watching the football (or the Red Sox), I apologize.
Ross Turk of Sourceforge (right) was troubled by my post about Mashable's Open Source God, which to him read as though I were calling Sourceforge a site meant exclusively for developers. That is its perceived niche, and its greatest strength, something it should be proud of.
But to Ross, the site's community manager, Sourceforge is and should be much more. Thus, his homework. He's planning a five part series called The Many Hats of Sourceforge.Net, covering all the roles which the site plays in the open source ecosystem.
I'm looking forward to it.
I took on a similar effort for this blog a year ago, a series of background pieces about open source which eventually included the bit I may be best known for here, The Open Source Incline.
That piece posited that there are a range of open source licenses, from near-proprietary to freedom defined as mutual obligation, and that the market naturally pulls companies toward the latter model, toward the GPL.
When a company first chooses to open source its code, all that code is its own, and they naturally seek to protect their own interests. As they seek more community participation, they are pulled toward licenses which give code contributors equal rights and equal obligations.
The GPL's controversial holding that software freedom isn't free, that it includes obligations to others, remains a political divide. But increasingly, as with Java, the market is moving toward that view.
The point of this review is mainly to wish Ross well, and to modestly suggest that as he writes he be open to the serrendipity of what he's writing and follow it. I had no idea the Open Source Incline piece would come out of my series when I started, and he may find his mind has something much more powerful locked away, just waiting to be heard.