FLOSS Foundations

July 30, 2014

Louis Suárez-Pots


15 Outbrain: What are the advantages of Outbrain over Taboola? – Quora.

I’ve been tracking native advertising for some time and also looking at its historical antecedents prior to the 20th century. At some point, it became desirable to clarify what was advertising, what supposedly impartial reportage, what editorial. Few actually observed these distinctions, at least judging from a lot of scandalous evidence.

But the clumsiness of contemporary native advertising makes me wonder about better tactics in engaging readers in ways that go beyond titillating or otherwise exciting their interest. I don’t mean to suggest gamification, though that is an option and one that has considerable potential. Rather, I mean to suggest techniques that relate the product to a user’s (or consumer’s) plausible ability to add a kind of value to it. Amazon’s book reviews is probably not a bad instance of this: the books are there for the reading but the reviews make the books something more than commodities that are then passively consumed. There is an element of action and engagement, a structure of commitment.

This sort of commitment can be measured and the data used to identify consumer fatigue or distraction and then prompt tactics to counter that. (It’s understood that all of us will get bored at some point.) Something similar can also be used in open source communities, where the issue is not to produce consumers but producers, and to enable collaboration.

I doubt that either Taboola or Outbrain would work well for open source communities, though I don’t dismiss either (or any of their ilk) out of hand. Previously, what I’ve done is write content myself for the projects; or used Google to find relevant material. But I think that content discovery tools can be adapted interestingly here for specialized markets, as can forms of native advertising that promote relevant content and are clearly labeled as promotions. (E.g., new & improved tools for fast developer communications.)


Filed under: critique

by oulipax at July 30, 2014 07:10 PM

July 29, 2014

Louis Suárez-Pots


TIOBE Software: Tiobe Index.

I was curious to see what the relative popularity of languages used by the dominant IaaS and PaaS clouds, e.g., CloudStack and Cloud Foundry. Useful to know.

Filed under: critique

by oulipax at July 29, 2014 06:21 PM

July 28, 2014

Mitchell Baker

Chris Beard Named CEO of Mozilla

I am pleased to announce that Chris Beard has been appointed CEO of Mozilla Corp. The Mozilla board has reviewed many internal and external candidates – and no one we met was a better fit.

As you will recall, Chris re-joined Mozilla in April, accepting the role of interim CEO and joining our Board of Directors.

Chris first joined Mozilla in 2004, just before we shipped Firefox 1.0 – and he’s been deeply involved in every aspect of Mozilla ever since. During his many years here, he at various times has had responsibility for almost every part of the business, including product, marketing, innovation, communications, community and user engagement.

Before taking on the interim CEO role, Chris spent close to a year as Executive-in-Residence at the venture capital firm Greylock Partners, gaining a deeper perspective on innovation and entrepreneurship. During his term at Greylock, he remained an Advisor to me in my role as Mozilla’s chair.

Over the years, Chris has led many of Mozilla’s most innovative projects. We have relied on his judgment and advice for nearly a decade. Chris has a clear vision of how to take Mozilla’s mission and turn it into industry-changing products and ideas.

The months since Chris returned in April have been a busy time at Mozilla:
•   We released major updates to Firefox, including a complete redesign, easy customization mode and new services with Firefox Accounts.
•   Firefox OS launched with new operators, including América Móvil, and new devices, like the ZTE Open C and Open II, the Alcatel ONETOUCH Fire C and the Flame (our own reference device).
•   We announced that the Firefox OS ecosystem is expanding to new markets with new partners before the end of the year.
•   We ignited policy discussion on a new path forward with net neutrality through Mozilla’s filing on the subject with the FCC
•   In June, we kicked off Maker Party, our annual campaign to teach the culture, mechanics and citizenship of the Web through thousands of community-run events around the world. President Obama announced the news at the first-ever White House Maker Faire.

Today, online life is a combination of desktop, mobile, connected devices, cloud services, big data and social interactions. Mozilla connects all of these in an open system we call the Web – a system that puts individuals in control, offers freedom and flexibility and that is trustworthy and fun.

Mozilla builds products and communities that work to break down closed systems that limit online choice and opportunity. There is a huge need for this work today, as our digital lives become more centralized and controlled by just a few large companies. Toward that end, Mozilla builds products that put the user first, with a focus on openness, innovation and opportunity.

Chris has a keen sense of where Mozilla has been – and where we’re headed. He has unique experience connecting with every constituency that touches our products, including consumers, partners and community members. There’s simply no better person to lead Mozilla as we extend our impact from Firefox on the desktop to the worlds of mobile devices and services.

Chris, welcome back.

by mitchell at July 28, 2014 04:07 PM

July 27, 2014

Louis Suárez-Pots


Open document formats selected to meet user needs – Press releases – GOV.UK.

This is the official PR sent out by the UK Gov’t. The OpenDocument Format is maintained by OASIS, an independent consortium “advancing open standards for the information society” (http://goo.gl/eIa5tk). An open standard can be implemented by any application and is thus not vendor specific. Open standards are preferred by many public sector organisations, as well as those in the private sector, as they can maintain purchasing patterns and not have to deal with what they see as the bewildering uncertainties of open source. (I don’t see open source that way; they do.)

I used to be on this and other ODF TCs at Oasis. I may rejoin. Certainly, with this (belated) announcement by the UK, I hope to see more activity in the TC and among other entities desiring escape from vendor lock.



Filed under: critique

by oulipax at July 27, 2014 03:19 PM

July 26, 2014

Louis Suárez-Pots


Confessions of an ex-developer – Matt Gemmell.


A very interesting read, especially since I’ve just returned from Oscon 2014, where there were many enthusiastic developers and a strong emphasis on things cloud. Also some interesting lacunae. But to the point Matt raises. It’s by no means peculiar to programming. Try keeping up with any field where differentiated identity and process can lead not more surely to profit and that competitive edge than better things and methods. Biotech, pharma, genomic and bioinformatics come to mind. Making something open source introduces is an increasingly ambiguous business gesture, and not simply a collaborative mobilization, if it ever was.

While reading the essay, I wondered if it would make sense to have a track at a major conference on this theme, on the logic and logistics of this coding babble. The upcoming Open World Forum, in Paris, has a related theme, on infrastructure identity in open source development, and plausibly this could be attached to it. But the CfP closed 15 July, I believe, and besides, I think this issue merits the sort of attention a series of talks by experts can offer–and then also some form of follow up, so that something can be said to result that’s actually constructive (if not a solution) from the identification of a problem.

Filed under: critique

by oulipax at July 26, 2014 03:12 AM

July 24, 2014

Dries Buytaert

The business behind Open Source

A few days ago, I sat down with Quentin Hardy of The New York Times to talk Open Source. We spoke mostly about the Drupal ecosystem and how Acquia makes money. As someone who spent almost his entire career in Open Source, I'm a firm believer in the fact that you can build a high-growth, high-margin business and help the community flourish. It's not an either-or proposition, and Acquia and Drupal are proof of that.

Rather than an utopian alternate reality as Quentin outlines, I believe Open Source is both a better way to build software, and a good foundation for an ecosystem of for-profit companies. Open Source software itself is very successful, and is capable of running some of the most complex enterprise systems. But failure to commercialize Open Source doesn't necessarily make it bad.

I mentioned to Quentin that I thought Open Source was Darwinian; a proprietary software company can't afford to experiment with creating 10 different implementations of an online photo album, only to pick the best one. In Open Source we can, and do. We often have competing implementations and eventually the best implementation(s) will win. One could say that Open Source is a more "wasteful" way of software development. In a pure capitalist read of On the Origin of Species, there is only one winner, but business and Darwin's theory itself is far more complex. Beyond "only the strongest survive", Darwin tells a story of interconnectedness, or the way an ecosystem can dictate how an entire species chooses to adapt.

While it's true that the Open Source "business model" has produced few large businesses (Red Hat being one notable example), we're also evolving the different Open Source business models. In the case of Acquia, we're selling a number of "as-a-service" products for Drupal, which is vastly different than just selling support like the first generation of Open Source companies did.

As a private company, Acquia doesn't disclose financial information, but I can say that we've been very busy operating a high-growth business. Acquia is North America's fastest growing private company on the Deloitte Fast 500 list. Our Q1 2014 bookings increased 55 percent year-over-year, and the majority of that is recurring subscription revenue. We've experienced 21 consecutive quarters of revenue growth, with no signs of slowing down. Acquia's business model has been both disruptive and transformative in our industry. Other Open Source companies like Hortonworks, Cloudera and MongoDB seem to be building thriving businesses too.

Society is undergoing tremendous change right now -- the sharing and collaboration practices of the internet are extending to transportation (Uber), hotels (Airbnb), financing (Kickstarter, LendingClub) and music services (Spotify). The rise of the collaborative economy, of which the Open Source community is a part of, should be a powerful message for the business community. It is the established, proprietary vendors whose business models are at risk, and not the other way around.

Hundreds of other companies, including several venture backed startups, have been born out of the Drupal community. Like Acquia, they have grown their businesses while supporting the ecosystem from which they came. That is more than a feel-good story, it's just good business.

by Dries at July 24, 2014 02:38 PM