Why open source matters

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    Why Open Source Matters Jeff Eaton
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    As you may have suspected, I'm Eaton.
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    I can be found pretty much anywhere on the Internet
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    in the Drupal world under the name Eaton.
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    Please, for the love of God, don't look on Flickr under Eaton.
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    Just trust me on this.
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    Really trust me on this and have all your filters set to true.
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    That's not me. But other places, I'm just Eaton.
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    Which turned out to be fortunate because my boss's name
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    is actually Jeff. So the fact that I've been going by my last name
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    for years before that made many things convenient when I was hired.
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    Speaking of, I'm with Lullabot.
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    A company you may have actually heard of
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    several times while you were here.
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    We're throwing the Do It with Drupal Conference.
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    We do a lot of stuff with open source.
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    Basically because we're primarily a Drupal company at this point.
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    And we work with a lot of different companies that are at least
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    somewhere on the open source curve.
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    Either they're sort of staring at it shiftily, over a bunch of proposals,
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    and trying to decide whether they're going to be going with open source,
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    versus a proprietary system.
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    Or, they've already made the decision to jump in,
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    or maybe they've already been using it for several years
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    but they're trying to figure out how to maximize that.
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    How to get deeper in their engagement
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    with the world of open source and to actually get more value out of it.
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    Rather than just, here's software,
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    it just happens to have a different license
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    than one we would purchase from somewhere else.
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    You know, how do we make the most of the open source-ness,
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    of open source?
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    And I think that's a question that is,
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    it can be a really hard one to answer for a lot of people
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    who aren't approaching it from a purely ideological standpoint.
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    You know, open source is morally correct so we should use it.
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    End of story.
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    You know, once you get outside of that discussion,
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    things get a lot fuzzier and a lot trickier.
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    So that's essentially what we're going to try to look at here.
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    [Female] I'm curious before you even pass this slide, is there anyone
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    in this room that works for one of the companies?
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    Because we have quite a few of those people here today.
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    Does anyone want to claim one of those?
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    No one.
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    [Eaton] Crickets. [Female] Oh wait, who is that?
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    Someone's raising their hand in the back row.
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    Zappo's, yeah! [Eaton] Woo-hoo!
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    [Female] Welcome.
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    [Eaton] There are 2 Zappos boxes in my living room as I left
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    so yeah, it's the Zappos truck as I like to call it.
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    It's the UPS.
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    So anyways,
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    stepping back briefly from the why,
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    just to sort of nail down what we're talking about.
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    Open source, there's a lot of different names that it can go by,
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    mostly open source and free software
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    are 2 mostly synonymous names that this whole concept
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    ends up going by.
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    There's some slight differences in the 2 philosophical camps
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    that prefer the words open source versus the word free software.
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    For the moment I'm going to gloss over the differences
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    between those 2.
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    It's sort of like, those are theological arguments
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    but we're all monotheists under this particular discussion.
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    Open source isn't just about being able to say,
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    I am using a program, I am allowed to look at its source code.
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    You know, that's one aspect of it.
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    But that's a small slice of what defines something
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    as either free software or open source.
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    The first one, and this is actually something that's referred to as,
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    freedom zero,
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    in a lot of open source and free software circles is,
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    You can use it.
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    If you have open source or free software,
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    you are allowed to use it. Period. End of story.
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    Possession is 100 percent of the law.
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    If you have it in your possession, you can run it,
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    you can build a business on top of it, you can make widgets with it,
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    you can print out the source code and fold it into paper airplanes,
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    you can port it to your Android phone.
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    Whatever you want to do with it, you are allowed to do
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    unless somehow that ends up restricting someone else's right
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    to do whatever they do.
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    Basically, the freedom zero is, if you've got the software
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    you're allowed to do what you want with it.
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    Whether you're Canadian or you're running a multinational conglomerate
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    or you're a Marxist, doesn't matter, you can use it.
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    [Female] What if you're all those things?
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    [Eaton] Then I salute you and you win at bingo.
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    Yeah, basically that's freedom zero
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    and it's really, really fundamental to a lot of discussions.
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    And when I say study it,
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    I don't just mean your allowed to stare thoughtfully
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    at the software while it runs.
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    The idea is that you can actually like crack it open and look at it.
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    The source code that comprises software
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    one of the issues with open source and free software is,
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    you have to be allowed to look at it.
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    And one of the reasons they call using free software
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    freedom number zero is that in practice,
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    access to the source code for something
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    ends up being a practical requirement
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    for using it however you would like.
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    Because if you want to run it on a different web server,
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    in the case of a web application, or if you want to port it to Android
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    instead of it running on your desktop machine or something like that,
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    you have to have access to the source code
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    in order to be able to do those things yourself
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    without just going off and hiring someone.
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    So access to the source code ends up rippling out of that freedom zero,
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    the ability to use it however you like.
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    And then the other corollary of that is you're allowed to change it.
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    Not just stare at the source code
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    but if you find a bug, you're allowed to fix that bug,
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    which sounds like kind of a no-brainer,
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    it's like, well I have the source code, I can open a text file
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    and I can change that.
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    But as we'll see later, one of the fundamental philosophical points
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    here is that there are licenses out there that a company
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    will sell you their software and they will allow you to look at the code,
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    so if you're troubleshooting,
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    you can figure out where something's going wrong
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    but you're legally not allowed to make any changes and run them.
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    And then the other one that goes along with that
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    is you certainly wouldn't be allowed to make those bug fixes
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    to the software
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    and then give the fixed version to other people.
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    This is actually one of the reasons you know, the holy war
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    between the free software, open source
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    you know, those 2 terms for describing this kind of software.
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    The real difference of opinion tends to revolve around the idea that,
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    calling something open source tends to make a lot of people think
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    it's just about being able to look at the source code.
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    But really it's about this concept of openness
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    and how you're allowed to use things,
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    look at it, and study it, and dissect it and modify it,
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    and then share those changes,
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    whether they're bug fixes or new features you added
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    or maybe you tore out features
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    because you thought they were terrible, whatever.
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    You know, the ability to do that kind of stuff
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    is the heart of this whole thing.
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    That's the ground rule, that's what we're talking about
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    when we're discussing open source
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    or free software.
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    The follow-up to that is that there are actually a lot more ways
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    of engaging with open source and free software
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    than simply saying will I use it or not.
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    Like, will I use Photoshop or will I use GIMP.
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    The answer is I will use Photoshop
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    because I actually like being able to use my image editor.
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    Sorry.
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    It's not just a question of will you use it or not.
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    It's not just a big switch that you throw.
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    That's sort of, level one of engagement with open source.
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    I am going to either build my business
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    or our website
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    or some thing that we need, we're going to use open source as either
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    the sum total or at least the starting point of it.
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    The next level is this idea of supporting open source
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    in some fashion.
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    That could be as simple as,
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    it could be as simple as saying, when I find a problem,
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    instead of just mucking around with it myself,
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    and fixing it on my machine,
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    I will then go back and post a bug report
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    and say, oh, here's the problem I found.
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    In a lot of ways that's supporting open source.
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    You're giving back some sort of useful work
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    that you did to fix a problem or whatever.
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    It can be donating to open source projects.
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    It can be funding open source projects in some way.
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    So, it's sort of like that first step up.
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    Moving from simply using it to in some way contributing back
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    to sort of help keep the cycle of that software going
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    so it continues to be improved.
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    The next step up,
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    the wording might be a little fuzzy,
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    but it's the idea of actually stuff that you've built,
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    maybe it's some novel piece of software that you need internally,
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    or, in the case of Drupal, maybe it's a module
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    that you needed to build in order to make your site
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    do what it needed it to do,
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    contribution is the idea of taking that stuff you built
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    and then sharing it with others.
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    You know, not just saying, hey I found a bug,
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    here's how to reproduce it can you go fix it.
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    Or, hey, I'm willing to chip 50 bucks in because you made a nice module,
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    but it's saying, hey, we invested time and energy and understanding
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    in building this and we're going to let other people
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    with the same needs use it.
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    That's this idea of contributing into open source.
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    And then the final sort of,
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    nirvana, you know,
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    ponies and unicorns level,
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    is full-on, hard core collaboration.
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    It's this idea of not just using something,
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    not just saying, oh sure, we'll help support this person
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    who wants to add this feature because we need that feature.
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    It's not even just giving away stuff that you've built
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    and contributing to open source.
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    It's this idea of engaging with other people
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    who have similar needs as you
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    and actually collaboratively working on a shared solution.
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    I think one of the interesting examples that I've always loved
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    is Sony Music
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    based a bunch of their sites on Drupal and one of the modules
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    that needed to be built along the way was 5 star rating widget.
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    It's one of those basic,
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    oh, we would like to be able to rate things.
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    And this was actually quite a few years ago in Drupal's history.
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    There was no real reusable, themeable,
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    so it could look different from one site to another,
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    way to do 5 star ratings.
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    So they essentially funded a lot of the original creation
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    of the Fivestar module.
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    Well, I think it was Warner. [Female] Yeah.
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    [Eaton] Warner Records that ended up building a bunch of their sites
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    on Drupal and they said, well hey, you know,
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    we need ratings on our music too.
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    But, we need some extra features that Sony didn't need.
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    And you actually had 2 competitors
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    in the world of music, actively collaborating.
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    You know, the software developers that work for those companies,
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    actively collaborating on building a 5 star rating widget
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    because both of them needed it.
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    This is where a lot of really interesting and really weird
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    and counterintuitive collaboration can occur in open source.
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    [Female] There was another one, a story that Eric Gundersen tells
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    is the World Bank and Amnesty International
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    were inadvertently collaborating on a module as well.
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    [Eaton] Just sort of keep them separate, in different rooms,
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    and don't let them know that's who they're collaborating with.
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    There's also this concept of artifacts.
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    When your business or your company needs to achieve
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    a certain goal, there's often a lot of artifacts created along the way
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    that aren't central to your business
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    or central to the essential mission of your organization
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    or even what you're trying to accomplish.
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    They're just stuff you needed to have there along the way.
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    Those are artifacts of what you needed to achieve.
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    And in a lot of cases, really awesome open source sharing
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    happens when lots of companies need the same kind of artifacts.
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    And their competing on one level, but they would like to compete
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    at that level, not everyone burning through their time
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    re-implementing this basic stack of stuff they just need in order to really
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    start doing what they care about.
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    So that artifact level can be an interesting place for collaboration
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    even between companies that compete on other levels.
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    So, the next question I think is, who is this for.
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    I actually got 10 minutes in here talking to you but,
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    you may not actually care about what I'm talking about.
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    So, we'll ask that really quickly.
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    The ideal audience for the stuff that I'm talking about
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    is essentially anyone who is considering moving up
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    that sort of, ladder of engagement with open source.
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    Either you're not using it and you want to move to using open source,
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    I'm guessing a lot of people here are already at least using open source
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    in some capacity,
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    or you're considering starting to become more engaged
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    with the community, and actually contribute bug reports
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    or maybe support the development of something that you really need
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    but don't want to try to build the resources internally
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    to develop it.
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    Or you're starting to move towards, hey, we've made some stuff
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    we'd like to start giving it back,
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    or even collaborating with other people with similar needs
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    and like, co-building infrastructure stuff that we need.
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    It's trying to move up that progression in some way.
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    Either you personally are actively weighing this and trying
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    to figure out whether it makes sense for you,
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    alternately, you could already be convinced and you're just trying
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    to figure out how exactly
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    to sell this concept to your boss without sounding like a raging hippy.
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    It's a real danger.
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    Basically trying to convince them that in some way,
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    investing and moving up that ladder is a worthwhile thing,
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    not just for good karma, but because there are actual rewards
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    that result.
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    Alternately you could be the final decision maker
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    who is actively being hounded by extremely opinionated programmers
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    who want you to make one decision or the other.
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    And you feel like you would like to sort of, step back a bit
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    and figure out how this system works,
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    rather than just hearing people shout at you, it's better,
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    it will be faster! Why? It's open source, shut up, sign the check.
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    Those discussions happen.
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    Basically, you're in one of those roles.
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    Either you're making the decision and you're trying to weigh it yourself
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    or you've got people haranguing you to make a decision
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    and you would like get a different perspective
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    or you're actively the one doing the haranguing,
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    and you would like some advanced haranguing techniques.
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    [Female] That's what we're looking for today.
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    [Eaton] Haranguing, that's my favorite word.
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    Alternately you could just be chill and you're hanging out here
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    because you got your coffee.
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    I'm not going to kick you out.
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    You may not care.
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    Just as long as you're smiling, maybe you've got some questions.
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    You're perfectly welcome to sit around.
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    But it's the 3 people in those quadrants
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    that I'm actually really actively talking to right now.
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    If you aren't in any of those 4, if you're not considering
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    moving up in open source and you're actively angry
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    about something, feel free to find another session, I won't be hurt.
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    But it's cool.
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    As you probably heard, I'm Eaton I'm all over the place on Drupal
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    and I'm really active in open source.
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    For me, a lot of how I understand open source, is also related
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    to how I got involved in the open source movement, so to speak.
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    Ironically, I did not get my start as a programmer.
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    My dad was actually an electrical engineer
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    and he got a Radio Shack color computer with 4K of RAM
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    that you soldered onto the motherboard because it only came
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    with 2, but you could solder on more.
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    Then you could load more stuff from tapes.
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    I was OK with that.
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    But the idea of really actively engaging with making stuff
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    with computers really didn't excite me that much.
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    It was like the vast majority of the human population.
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    I cared about things that were on the other side of the computer,
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    stuff that I could do with them that was interesting.
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    I'll pause that for a second,
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    and then move on to what I consider the first really awesome toy
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    that I can recall in my life.
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    Does anyone recognize that?
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    Is it stirring vague recollections?
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    In the early 80's Fisher-Price released
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    the Fisher-Price Arts and Craft printers kit.
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    It was a movable type printing kit for kids made out of rubber
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    and ink stamps and it was movable type.
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    You could pick your letters and put them into the little thing
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    and ink them up and you could stamp out type.
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    I made newsletters, it was also...
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    [Female] Is this what you used when you had your 300 international
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    paid subscribers?
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    [Eaton] No. [Female] No, okay.
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    That's actually when I started getting involved in software,
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    because I didn't want to use this.
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    Because as it turns out, using 8 letters at a time is a really laborious
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    way to actually publish anything.
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    But, when I was really young and just starting to get engaged with it,
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    I honestly can't even recall,
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    I can't even articulate really,
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    what was so incredibly powerful about this thing for me,
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    but it was this idea that I could just make stuff.
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    I could line this up and I could stamp stuff out.
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    I could create things that look like real stuff
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    that an actual printer had he no metal, just rubber and blue ink
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    would produce. This just destroyed me, it owned me for so many years
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    and I loved it.
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    And I actually did several years after having that kit is when I decided
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    I wanted to do a zine. That's what I wanted to do.
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    And I actually started using a computer because it had
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    a word processor and I could actually edit things.
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    And I could use hundreds of letters at a time when producing things.
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    And that's also when I ended up cajoling my way into getting access
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    to a Mac Plus for the first time,
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    2 floppy drives, MS Word and a copy of Paint.
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    Thumbs up. Mac nerds represent.
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    And I used that for many years to put out the zine.
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    But along the way, despite the fact that I had no interest in software,
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    and I didn't like programming, and I was just thought it was whatever,
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    I want to be a writer and I want to own my magazine,
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    I want to be a mogul.
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    Karen McGrane earlier just talked about how promising of a future
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    I would have had if I had actually managed to realize that dream.
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    One of the things I ended up encountering
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    was a piece of software called HyperCard.
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    Does the name HyperCard ring, OK, HyperCard represents.
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    [Female] This is your people.
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    [Eaton] These are my people.
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    HyperCard was a free piece of software, free as in zero dollars,
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    not free as in open source.
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    This was 1984, 1985. Open source and free software hadn't even
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    really been coined as a term at this point.
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    But, it was a piece of software that came at zero cost with every Mac
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    at that time, that let you make "stacks" of cards.
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    At its dumbest form it was basically just a bunch of paint
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    documents set in a stack and you could add buttons onto them,
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    you could click and move from one to another.
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    But then you could also make fields that could have text in them
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    and so you could type stuff in.
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    And slowly but surely, people could wire up things
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    like little address books and contact managers.
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    And you could say somebody made a stack
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    that let me manage my contacts.
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    But I also want an extra field to store something new
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    that my friend said he had called email address
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    at Compuserve or Prodigy.
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    So you could add a button or add a field to this.
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    Because every stack was basically just a document
  • 20:02
    that somebody had handed to you that was made
  • 20:05
    with the HyperCard program
  • 20:06
    and you could do whatever you wanted with it.
  • 20:08
    And the interesting thing is, is not only could you add
  • 20:10
    these little buttons, but then if you really started getting into it,
  • 20:13
    you could add scripts to each button. You could write code,
  • 20:17
    in this language called HyperTalk
  • 20:18
    that was utterly unlike most other things, it was like a amalgam
  • 20:23
    of Pascal and Lisp that some guy named Bill Atkinson has made in his
  • 20:27
    crazy HyperCard fever dreams.
  • 20:30
    But you could write code that when somebody clicked a button,
  • 20:33
    it would run.
  • 20:34
    Or when somebody moved the mouse over one of those text fields,
  • 20:37
    your code would run.
  • 20:38
    Anything you could imagine, it was just a matter of
  • 20:40
    what can you come up with.
  • 20:42
    And people did crazy stuff with it.
  • 20:44
    At the time, design agencies would produce their portfolios in it.
  • 20:48
    Because it was like you could wire up these graphical things,
  • 20:51
    it was black and white, one bit color,
  • 20:54
    but you could do crazy stuff with it.
  • 20:56
    Does anybody remember the game Mist?
  • 20:58
    Clicking through those Mist books, and stuff like that,
  • 21:01
    that was a HyperCard stack.
  • 21:02
    They added a plug into it that let you layer color on top
  • 21:06
    of its normal black and white stuff. But at its heart, the game Mist
  • 21:09
    was just a giant HyperCard stack that these 2 brothers had made
  • 21:12
    with a bunch of rendered images that they had put together.
  • 21:16
    A friend of mine with an old hand-me-down Mac made a music
  • 21:20
    sequencing program in HyperCard,
  • 21:22
    because you could load sounds and play them.
  • 21:24
    So just lots of buttons and some fields to enter values
  • 21:27
    and you could change notes, he wrote music just using this thing
  • 21:31
    that he cobbled together out of buttons and fields and cards.
  • 21:35
    It's kind of horrifying when you think about it
  • 21:37
    from a software development perspective,
  • 21:38
    which actually is how a lot of enterprise developers feel
  • 21:41
    when they're handed a copy of CCK and Views and told,
  • 21:45
    make your database schema.
  • 21:49
    People did fantastic things with them.
  • 21:54
    One of the really interesting things
  • 21:55
    about the fact that people could build their own tools with HyperCard
  • 21:58
    was that although it wasn't legally, open source software
  • 22:03
    or free software, the stuff that people built with it was all accessible.
  • 22:07
    If you got a stack from someone, if you bought
  • 22:10
    a contact management program somebody had built in HyperCard,
  • 22:13
    and you said, yeah but I wish it did this, all you had to do
  • 22:18
    was drag a button off of the button pallet, and wire up some stuff,
  • 22:22
    and you could just do things with it.
  • 22:24
    Before the word open source was coined, they were essentially
  • 22:27
    teaching people to make open source.
  • 22:30
    And there was a huge culture of sharing of stacks that came out of it.
  • 22:34
    There were people that were running skyscraper lighting systems
  • 22:37
    off of HyperCard and just doing really weird things.
  • 22:40
    And in a lot of ways, the openness that was inherent
  • 22:44
    in the way that people approached it, and the fact that if you saw a stack
  • 22:48
    that did something interesting,
  • 22:49
    you could dig in and figure out how they did it.
  • 22:52
    Some people would write stacks just for other people to learn from.
  • 22:55
    Because they wanted to say I learned how to do a cool thing.
  • 22:57
    Here's a stack. This was in the BBS days.
  • 23:00
    The first wiki, like Wikipedia. Like wiki, before there was anything
  • 23:07
    after wiki, was originally a HyperCard stack that the inventor
  • 23:11
    of the concept of wikis had made and was running
  • 23:14
    on a Macintosh II in his network lab
  • 23:17
    and eventually they decided, maybe we should put this on the Web.
  • 23:21
    Really amazing things that people did with it.
  • 23:23
    I'll stop harping on HyperCard, I promise.
  • 23:26
    For me, it was like that first "ah hah" moment
  • 23:29
    of that intersection of creating stuff and being able
  • 23:32
    to do interesting things, and the power of being able to dig in to
  • 23:38
    this tool that was at my disposal. I didn't have to,
  • 23:40
    but if I needed or wanted to, its guts were laid bare
  • 23:44
    and I could just add stuff or change stuff or whatever
  • 23:46
    and that culture that surrounded it was really powerful.
  • 23:49
    The openness that was inherent in it triggered a lot of innovation.
  • 23:54
    Meanwhile, over in hippie-land,
  • 23:57
    where the real software developers
  • 23:59
    were busy writing mainframe OSes and building printer drivers
  • 24:04
    with their bare hands out of 1s and 0s and magnetized needles,
  • 24:08
    there was a lot of transformation.
  • 24:13
    At the same time that HyperCard was taking off, in the early 80s
  • 24:17
    and even the late 80s, there was a big transformation going on
  • 24:20
    in the general world of software development for big iron computers
  • 24:23
    like mainframes and stuff.
  • 24:24
    What was happening was that companies that had originally said,
  • 24:27
    well, we'll sell you this multimillion dollar computer, and here's
  • 24:31
    an operating system for it and here's printer software,
  • 24:33
    here have a spreadsheet, whatever.
  • 24:35
    Software that was originally considered sort of a loss leader
  • 24:37
    for selling gigantic computers, became profitable
  • 24:41
    and was being sold as a product.
  • 24:44
    You know, you put it on disks, you shrink-wrap it and stuff like that
  • 24:46
    and there was a whole culture of software developers
  • 24:49
    who'd been maintaining these machines and saying,
  • 24:51
    "Oh well, we need to add some stuff to this operating system.
  • 24:54
    We'll just kludge that on and hack it on."
  • 24:56
    As that world began to change, and software became something
  • 25:00
    that was an inherent commercial product,
  • 25:03
    their access to things like the source code for the software
  • 25:08
    to print things on this mainframe, dried up.
  • 25:12
    They didn't have the ability to do that and even if they wanted access
  • 25:15
    they had to sign NDA's and say, "I will never share this with anyone.
  • 25:19
    I will never pass on any modifications I made."
  • 25:22
    That resulted in some seriously angry nerds.
  • 25:26
    Really, really angry nerds.
  • 25:31
    You can say it's purely ideological but a lot of the language that now
  • 25:35
    surrounds open source has this like moral component to it.
  • 25:39
    People talking about this is not right, it isn't right that software
  • 25:43
    should work this way.
  • 25:44
    And whatever arguments one wants to have about that, it's important
  • 25:49
    to remember where that grew out of.
  • 25:51
    These were people who that's what they did.
  • 25:53
    They worked on this stuff, they shared the innovations
  • 25:56
    that they were coming up with and the fixes they were making.
  • 25:58
    And what they saw was this immediate vanishing of the culture
  • 26:03
    that they had used and worked with.
  • 26:05
    This is Eric Raymond, has anybody ever heard of Eric Raymond?
  • 26:09
    This is actually his costume that he wears now.
  • 26:12
    It's St. Ignatius, don't ask.
  • 26:19
    He is the inventor of the concept of free software as we now think of it.
  • 26:24
    Those things, those 4 freedoms, he was one of those heatedly angry
  • 26:28
    nerds in that era that really started articulating what it should work like
  • 26:34
    to capture that essence of what they had been using and leveraging
  • 26:39
    and what he felt was the morally right way for software to work.
  • 26:44
    He summarized it as computer users should be free to modify their
  • 26:49
    programs for whatever they need, free to share it, and they should be
  • 26:52
    able to do whatever they want with it because that's the basis
  • 26:55
    of a healthy functioning society.
  • 26:57
    That's a bold claim for software licensing.
  • 27:00
    Again, I think a lot of it boils down to understanding what the
  • 27:05
    profound motivations of these advocates and these people
  • 27:08
    who form free software were.
  • 27:10
    They felt that the thing they needed to be able to do,
  • 27:13
    to collaborate, to fix, to modify and to enhance was being yanked
  • 27:16
    out from under them. And free software, all of this stuff
  • 27:20
    that we now use in the open source world, grows out of that sort of
  • 27:23
    movement that they started.
  • 27:25
    I think one of the classic points of confusion is whether or not
  • 27:29
    open source means I can read
  • 27:31
    the source code or whether free software just means excellent,
  • 27:35
    it's free! I don't have to pay for it!
  • 27:38
    Most of the time no, but there's free as in speech, not free as in free beer
  • 27:45
    is what's often said.
  • 27:46
    I think Jeff Robbins my boss likes to say that it's free as in free puppies.
  • 27:50
    It's yours free and now you get to take care of it.
  • 27:56
    It's that idea that using it for whatever purposes you want,
  • 27:59
    being able to dig into it and study it and dissect how it actually works
  • 28:03
    and how it's made,
  • 28:04
    to modify it for your own needs and share those modifications,
  • 28:07
    that's the kind of freedom they're talking about
  • 28:09
    that's inherent in free software.
  • 28:13
    And as it turns out, that worked.
  • 28:15
    It hasn't solved every problem, you know, it hasn't cured cancer
  • 28:18
    or anything like that.
  • 28:19
    Well, I don't know, maybe somebody's working on that
  • 28:21
    somewhere on GitHub.
  • 28:25
    Things like the Linux operating system, the Firefox web browser,
  • 28:29
    Apache, the actual web server that, like I think, 60 percent of the Internet
  • 28:34
    uses at this point to actually serve up web pages,
  • 28:37
    the PHP language, WordPress, Drupal.
  • 28:42
    All of these projects that are very commonly used are based on
  • 28:48
    open source or free software principles.
  • 28:51
    Either they have a license that explicitly says
  • 28:53
    people have these freedoms or whatever
  • 28:56
    or in some way they're leveraging that.
  • 28:58
    There's a couple of those projects where there's heated arguments
  • 29:00
    about whether they're free enough on point 3 or something like that.
  • 29:04
    But essentially, free software and open source as a concept
  • 29:08
    has pretty much knocked it out of the park for certain kinds of things.
  • 29:11
    It's demonstrated that it's incredibly useful and a lot of innovation
  • 29:17
    that we've seen in the web era
  • 29:19
    has grown out of open source.
  • 29:24
    The ability to just look at what someone did and say
  • 29:28
    "Sweet, that's a great solution to this, I'm going to go build on top of that."
  • 29:33
    That's really deeply baked both into the software that the web runs on
  • 29:37
    and how we actually end up solving a lot of web problems.
  • 29:41
    Honestly, the sort of apocryphal solutions to how to make web pages
  • 29:45
    look right on IE 5, that's classic "I solved a problem and I'm just going
  • 29:50
    to disseminate this knowledge to everyone and we'll all benefit
  • 29:53
    from it" kind of stuff.
  • 29:57
    One of the things that I've found interesting over the past couple of
  • 30:00
    years is realizing that people have actually been researching
  • 30:02
    this kind of phenomenon.
  • 30:04
    What happens when the people who need a thing
  • 30:08
    have the ability to either make that thing or hack something else to work
  • 30:14
    to fill that need? What happens when people have that kind of
  • 30:18
    freedom at their disposal?
  • 30:20
    The interesting thing is that other people have really studied this a lot.
  • 30:24
    One of the books that I think is best at capturing it is by an author
  • 30:29
    named Eric Von Hippel.
  • 30:30
    It's called Democratizing Innovation.
  • 30:32
    And it's all about this idea of user- driven versus manufacturer-driven
  • 30:39
    innovation in products or services or whatever.
  • 30:42
    And he defines users as anyone who will directly benefit from a change.
  • 30:47
    Like adding an extra knob on a box to control some setting
  • 30:54
    or adding a feature to a web server or whatever.
  • 30:58
    Those are the users of it.
  • 31:00
    Whether or not we think of them as the end users to the website
  • 31:03
    it's the people who will directly benefit from a change.
  • 31:05
    And manufacturers are people who, in whatever way, need to essentially
  • 31:09
    sell to other people to actually see any benefits
  • 31:13
    from the changes they've made.
  • 31:14
    Now, say Microsoft, say making a bunch of enhancements to
  • 31:19
    Microsoft Word or Microsoft Office, that's a manufacturer's change.
  • 31:24
    But internal tools that Microsoft uses to build Microsoft Office,
  • 31:29
    if they add features to the stuff that they use internally to do that,
  • 31:34
    that's a user change.
  • 31:35
    Microsoft buys software from other people too.
  • 31:38
    And it's not like there are manufacturers and there are users
  • 31:42
    and never the twain shall meet.
  • 31:44
    It's about the kind of role that someone has and how they relate
  • 31:47
    to a particular tool they're using.
  • 31:50
    One of the totally non-open source- related examples
  • 31:53
    that features in the book is wind surfing,
  • 31:55
    and the emergence of wind surfing as a distinct sport.
  • 31:58
    I think it was the 70s, the period of time he was studying.
  • 32:03
    Thing is, windsurfing started as a whole bunch of random
  • 32:06
    user-driven innovations.
  • 32:08
    What it started as was lots of people surfing unsafely.
  • 32:12
    Really, really, really, heavy waves.
  • 32:15
    And they were doing jumping, essentially.
  • 32:18
    They were surfing and doing jumps and they thought this was awesome.
  • 32:21
    And then they were also getting beat up
  • 32:23
    by hitting their own boards or just losing control or whatever.
  • 32:28
    And there were surfers at that set of beaches that he was researching
  • 32:31
    that decided, you know what, I bet I could just bolt some straps
  • 32:35
    to this thing and I could use foot straps on my surfboard.
  • 32:39
    So they added it.
  • 32:40
    And then somebody's like, well now that I can stay in control of the thing
  • 32:43
    I bet I could put a giant sail on this thing, that would be crazy.
  • 32:47
    So people did that.
  • 32:48
    And then they were like, I bet I could control the sail better
  • 32:51
    if we did it differently.
  • 32:52
    There was this period of incredibly rapid mucking around with
  • 32:57
    surfboards phase that the sport went through.
  • 33:00
    And that's when manufacturers of surfboards started saying,
  • 33:06
    "Huh, so this crazy, weird, I'm going to bolt the sail onto my surfboard
  • 33:11
    and fly around thing, that's looking interesting."
  • 33:15
    And they started manufacturing windsurfing boards at that point.
  • 33:19
    It wasn't something that a manufacturer said, "I bet surfers
  • 33:23
    would love a sail." It came out of their desire to do crazy stuff.
  • 33:28
    And at that point like within a couple of years, there were
  • 33:31
    a million people buying windsurfing boards and doing that stuff.
  • 33:33
    But it all came out of needs that
  • 33:36
    people who were doing crazy stuff felt.
  • 33:39
    Other industries that he ended up studying saw really high levels of it,
  • 33:44
    like manufacturers
  • 33:45
    of pipe hanging equipment.
  • 33:47
    Who would have thought?
  • 33:48
    What he found was 36 percent of the new features and new innovations
  • 33:53
    that pipe hanger manufacturers were adding to their products
  • 33:59
    like things that actually make pipe hangers out of stuff.
  • 34:03
    It was actually the end users, like in factories and stuff, that were
  • 34:07
    producing, that they were cobbling together new stuff or new ways
  • 34:12
    of bending new materials into pipe hangers and stuff like that.
  • 34:14
    It was the factories actually using their products
  • 34:17
    that were coming up with almost 40 percent of their new features.
  • 34:22
    And those would just bubble back to them and they would say
  • 34:23
    "Oh, we'll add that to the next revision" and they would do that.
  • 34:27
    Library information systems, they found out that like 26 percent
  • 34:32
    of the new things that library, companies that made
  • 34:36
    library IS systems were doing, was totally driven
  • 34:39
    by end users like librarians who needed to manage this stuff,
  • 34:43
    either coming up with ideas and figuring out how to hack them onto
  • 34:46
    their IS systems
  • 34:47
    or just building stuff and they would find out about it and say "OK, we'll
  • 34:52
    add that to our product."
  • 34:53
    Surgical equipment, 22 percent.
  • 34:58
    I'm not actually sure if I want my doctor innovating in that way
  • 35:00
    but I guess it's cool.
  • 35:02
    But like 22 percent of new features on surgical equipment.
  • 35:04
    19% of new features on mountain bikes
  • 35:07
    were things that came from
  • 35:08
    mountain bikers doing crazy stuff and hacking their bikes.
  • 35:11
    Extreme sporting equipment back up like in almost 40.
  • 35:14
    And one of the other things, which at the time
  • 35:16
    this was written was like, there's this open source thing.
  • 35:21
    The book is actually from the 80s.
  • 35:25
    There was an updated version that started accounting for things like
  • 35:28
    open source software.
  • 35:30
    And the Apache web server is one of the ones they saw.
  • 35:33
    19 percent of the new features during the period of time they were
  • 35:37
    studying, 19 percent of the new features for the Apache web server
  • 35:41
    weren't by the Apache team working on a new feature
  • 35:43
    for the new version,
  • 35:45
    but just people who were running web servers, used Apache and said,
  • 35:48
    "It needs to do X better" or "I need it to do Y."
  • 35:51
    and they would hack that in and because it was open source,
  • 35:53
    they had the ability to do that because baked into it was the right
  • 35:57
    to share and disseminate those changes that would end up getting
  • 36:00
    folded back in.
  • 36:01
    Long story short, it became obvious that like there's this
  • 36:06
    200 to 300 year history of this kind of model driving
  • 36:10
    a lot of new developments, and the people who are usually the ones
  • 36:14
    generating this stuff are the ones who are least catered to
  • 36:17
    by lowest common denominator manufacturer-driven stuff.
  • 36:21
    He summarized it as basically the idea that these users, the people
  • 36:25
    who benefit directly, generally have a much more accurate and
  • 36:29
    detailed view of what they really need than any manufacturer does.
  • 36:34
    He referred to it as information asymmetry.
  • 36:39
    Manufacturers have to spend lots of money and time
  • 36:42
    figuring out what people need
  • 36:45
    and then building it.
  • 36:47
    The people who need it know they need it.
  • 36:50
    They feel that acutely.
  • 36:52
    Their problem is finding the right person at the call center
  • 36:55
    to talk to to say we need this or getting to a salesperson
  • 36:59
    who can actually say something other than, "Oh, yeah, it does that.
  • 37:02
    Yeah, yeah, totally, it'll do that.
  • 37:04
    Our people will hook you up." You know?
  • 37:06
    What they found was when those kinds of people with those
  • 37:10
    strong felt needs had the ability
  • 37:13
    to do that stuff themselves, they would do it.
  • 37:16
    And those innovations would end up bubbling back and
  • 37:19
    eventually benefiting everybody.
  • 37:20
    One of the interesting things they also found was that it wasn't
  • 37:25
    just there were a few pockets
  • 37:27
    of factories that just churned out new innovations and then
  • 37:31
    a manufacturer would come and look at them to see what they were doing,
  • 37:34
    it was totally disseminated.
  • 37:36
    It was like every one of these people was coming up with
  • 37:38
    one oddball thing that they needed and that really diffused
  • 37:43
    picture of people having these needs
  • 37:47
    and innovating—that's a word that's going to come up a lot I guess—
  • 37:52
    it was totally diffused and disseminated.
  • 37:54
    Which again looks a lot like this open source model
  • 37:58
    we've been talking about and I think
  • 37:59
    one of the first things to selling open source
  • 38:02
    is something other than basically
  • 38:04
    novel hippie talk about how software should work
  • 38:07
    is recognizing it as a manifestation of a pattern of how
  • 38:12
    innovative stuff happens historically in lots of different fields,
  • 38:17
    even things that have nothing to do with computers.
  • 38:22
    Yet, there is still—
  • 38:26
    it sounds good at this level,
  • 38:30
    but I'm guessing that everybody has probably heard at least
  • 38:33
    a couple of pitches for open source
  • 38:36
    that basically consist of, it will be magical
  • 38:38
    and full of ponies and unicorns
  • 38:40
    and there is a magical pool of people out there who
  • 38:43
    just want to write software recreationally
  • 38:46
    for you and all you need to do is tell them what your requirements are
  • 38:50
    and the "Software Fairy" drops off software.
  • 38:54
    And in actuality, a lot of times
  • 38:57
    approaching it with that kind of expectation usually ends up
  • 39:01
    being the painful process of troubleshooting it and
  • 39:05
    hacking around with it and saying, this is not what I was sold on.
  • 39:09
    And I think even if you're sold on it, a lot of stakeholders
  • 39:14
    that are trying to weigh these decisions
  • 39:16
    have to contend with the fact that the ideological push for it
  • 39:21
    has been at the forefront in a lot of scenarios.
  • 39:25
    So the final stretch of this is basically a parade of
  • 39:30
    pitches for open source
  • 39:34
    ordered from terrible idea to good idea.
  • 39:38
    They're not necessarily all terrible ideas, even the ones
  • 39:42
    that I'm about to rate poorly, it's that they don't really capture
  • 39:45
    what the actual advantages of this kind of approach are.
  • 39:49
    The first one is one of my favorites.
  • 39:52
    It's free—why wouldn't you use it?
  • 39:55
    It's just free, there's a pile of kittens there and there's a sign
  • 39:59
    that says take one.
  • 40:00
    Why wouldn't you take armfuls?
  • 40:02
    They're kittens!
  • 40:04
    Just do it.
  • 40:06
    And this isn't to discount the price tag element.
  • 40:11
    We worked with one client that the licensing costs
  • 40:16
    that they were paying on their existing CMS and the
  • 40:17
    database system that will not be named, but, you know, perhaps
  • 40:21
    Greek prophets and so *Oracle*,
  • 40:27
    they were able to, by converting to open source software,
  • 40:34
    save in yearly licensing fees, enough to hire a full-time
  • 40:40
    lead dev and junior dev with Drupal experience.
  • 40:45
    Anybody who's tried to randomly hire a Drupal dev lately understands
  • 40:49
    that that's non-trivial.
  • 40:51
    Just by not paying the yearly licensing fees,
  • 40:56
    they could just hire 2 people to be their employees and work
  • 40:59
    on Drupal for them.
  • 41:01
    So I don't want to discount the price tag element of it.
  • 41:06
    That can be really significant.
  • 41:08
    But at the end of the day,
  • 41:10
    if that's the primary driver,
  • 41:12
    if it's just a matter of let's run the numbers and what's cheaper
  • 41:17
    month by month, do we use open source, or do we use
  • 41:20
    some other option, it's not really—
  • 41:27
    that's not really necessarily compelling in that innovation engine
  • 41:30
    sort of way. If it's purely a bean counter decision,
  • 41:33
    sometimes it can end up in the right way.
  • 41:34
    But I personally, as reasons to use open source, give that a D.
  • 41:40
    It might as well not be open source.
  • 41:42
    It just happens to have a price tag
  • 41:44
    of zero on a year to year basis.
  • 41:46
    You're essentially treating open source
  • 41:50
    as really cheap software that you're responsible for support.
  • 41:54
    It can make sense sometimes, but it's not the best case.
  • 41:59
    The other one is,
  • 42:00
    you will get good will.
  • 42:03
    In some fashion, there will be karma
  • 42:07
    and you will gain it by using open source,
  • 42:11
    either because the software gods will smile upon you
  • 42:16
    and Eric Raymond dressed up as Saint Ignatius
  • 42:18
    will go "Ah, yes".
  • 42:20
    Or maybe if you contribute back software,
  • 42:24
    you will gain good will from other people
  • 42:27
    who are helped by this.
  • 42:29
    I personally give this one a C plus.
  • 42:32
    It's just kind of, it's passing.
  • 42:34
    It's good, I am not knocking karma.
  • 42:36
    But at the same time, you have to consider
  • 42:38
    are we actually engaging with open source
  • 42:41
    in a way that allows me to actually redeem this karma
  • 42:45
    for anything useful?
  • 42:47
    Am I going to use this karma or am I just going to feel
  • 42:50
    slightly happier at the end of the day?
  • 42:52
    Not discounting that, again, being happy is good.
  • 42:55
    And feeling that you've done some sort of morally good thing
  • 42:58
    with software is great, but if all you're doing is downloading
  • 43:01
    a piece of software, using it, and then when
  • 43:03
    you have to make modifications, you just sort of
  • 43:05
    throw them over a wall and say, "Enjoy, everybody,"
  • 43:09
    that karma really is just kind of
  • 43:11
    sitting in the karma bank and there's nothing you can do with it.
  • 43:15
    There are ways to leverage that.
  • 43:17
    If you accrue enough karma you can essentially cash it in
  • 43:22
    for priority access to help from other open source developers
  • 43:26
    who use your stuff.
  • 43:28
    "Oh, yeah, I've used your stuff, that's helpful."
  • 43:30
    Like Earl Miles, sorry,
  • 43:33
    this is the man who wrote the Views Module and Panels Module.
  • 43:37
    He pretty much, I don't think you have to pay for beer
  • 43:41
    at an open source or Drupal-related conference ever.
  • 43:44
    Ever again.
  • 43:46
    He is one of the "software fairies" that drops software off.
  • 43:53
    But the idea is that Earl has basically spent the last
  • 43:56
    6 years heavily contributing to a major open source project
  • 44:00
    and if Earl says, I really need some help on solving this problem
  • 44:05
    with a piece of software that some other person in the community
  • 44:08
    wrote, that's going to get bumped up to the tippy top of the queue.
  • 44:12
    That's karma in action.
  • 44:14
    But at the same time, it's important to realize that for an organization
  • 44:17
    that's just saying, Yeah, we wrote a module that lets us change
  • 44:21
    the number of automatic emails that get sent out every hour.
  • 44:23
    We'll toss that out there.
  • 44:25
    That's positive karma, but you've got to earn a lot of karma
  • 44:29
    to be able to basically jump the queue in front of 600 people
  • 44:32
    like that on a consistent basis.
  • 44:34
    So consider what you really want
  • 44:36
    out of this, just if we give people free stuff, they'll like us enough
  • 44:40
    to give us more free stuff.
  • 44:42
    It's not bad, but it's not really, really the end all, be all.
  • 44:47
    Karma at the end of the day is good for hugs.
  • 44:52
    The other one is, if it's open source, it's just better.
  • 44:59
    Just hand wave - it's just better.
  • 45:03
    It will be faster, it will be more secure, it will be higher quality,
  • 45:06
    shut up, it's just better.
  • 45:09
    There are some good reasons why you can arrive at that
  • 45:14
    kind of conclusion.
  • 45:15
    The idea that if there's 2,000 people who are doing code reviews
  • 45:19
    on a particular new plugin that came out,
  • 45:21
    odds are it's going to be better quality than somebody
  • 45:24
    randomly posting a PHP script on their blog.
  • 45:27
    Open source can give access to a larger number of people
  • 45:32
    who can contribute effectively,
  • 45:34
    and it works, but it's sort of like saying
  • 45:36
    that Wikipedia is more accurate.
  • 45:38
    It exists in a quantum state of accuracy.
  • 45:42
    At any given point, it's probably accurate on the aggregate.
  • 45:47
    And open source software, because there's an engine of constant
  • 45:50
    contribution and refining,
  • 45:53
    I'd say with most projects there's an aggregate betterness
  • 45:58
    that's there, but really
  • 46:00
    all open source guarantees
  • 46:02
    is that if it's terrible,
  • 46:04
    you can look at it and see, holy smokes, that's terrible.
  • 46:09
    Which is good.
  • 46:11
    Being able to say, wow, that's terrible, they did that?
  • 46:15
    Really?
  • 46:16
    There's value in that.
  • 46:18
    And there's value in security reviews being able to be done by
  • 46:22
    a team of 30 volunteers and specialists
  • 46:24
    who say, sure, I'll take a look at that.
  • 46:26
    With a project that isn't open source or free software,
  • 46:30
    you wouldn't be able to evaluate that,
  • 46:32
    you'd just have to essentially take their word for it
  • 46:34
    and kick the tires by running it and hope that
  • 46:37
    everything's OK under the hood.
  • 46:39
    But there isn't an inherent betterness
  • 46:44
    that's accrued that software gets
  • 46:47
    just by sprinkling a new distribution license on it.
  • 46:50
    It's not like you have software and you say
  • 46:52
    and now it's open source, ta-da!
  • 46:55
    It doesn't just get faster.
  • 46:57
    We all get that, but like
  • 47:00
    it's important to realize that the betterness
  • 47:02
    in open source is a possibility,
  • 47:06
    not just a guarantee because of how it's distributed.
  • 47:10
    So I think a lot of open source software is better than
  • 47:14
    the alternatives, but that's because lots of people have worked on it
  • 47:19
    and have put work into it, and you have to
  • 47:21
    view it as, I have the ability with open source
  • 47:25
    to decide whether or not it's better in a more informed way
  • 47:28
    than I would with non-free or non-open source alternatives.
  • 47:35
    So we're still in the Cs.
  • 47:36
    I promise, these grades start getting higher.
  • 47:38
    I'm grading really harshly right now,
  • 47:40
    but it gets better.
  • 47:41
    Since I'm doing reminiscing, does anybody remember this screen?
  • 47:45
    It's from Zelda.
  • 47:49
    Zelda the game.
  • 47:51
    This is the first moment where you actually get a sword in the game.
  • 47:54
    You're told, "It's dangerous to go alone."
  • 47:57
    "Take this."
  • 47:59
    Which, I think, the idea that there is safety in numbers.
  • 48:03
    Many, many years back, the running line in computers and software
  • 48:09
    was nobody ever got fired for picking IBM.
  • 48:11
    It's just the safe option.
  • 48:14
    There's 80 bajillion warm bodies who made the same decision
  • 48:17
    and the worst that can be said was, hey, everybody else was doing that.
  • 48:22
    When certain open source projects get a degree of momentum,
  • 48:27
    they can become that safety in numbers kind of choice
  • 48:32
    for certain kinds of tasks.
  • 48:33
    The idea that look, if everything goes wrong,
  • 48:37
    there's like a billion other people using this that are going to be
  • 48:40
    just as angry as me.
  • 48:41
    That's true.
  • 48:44
    But all that ultimately gained you is that you are in a crowd
  • 48:48
    of a billion angry people.
  • 48:50
    Things that you probably want to look at are also like,
  • 48:54
    is that a crowd of a billion people who depend on it
  • 48:59
    and 2 dudes working really hard
  • 49:01
    or 1 harried undergrad who turned this piece of software out
  • 49:05
    and is deciding to let everybody use it and everybody uses it now?
  • 49:11
    If that's the level of actual engagement in building, maintaining
  • 49:15
    the software, safety in numbers doesn't really go too far.
  • 49:19
    It just means that you will be among the angry crowd.
  • 49:22
    Now, I'm actually going to give this, even though I just
  • 49:27
    knocked on it, I'm going to give this one a B minus,
  • 49:30
    because a couple of years ago at South by Southwest,
  • 49:34
    I was on a panel about different content management systems,
  • 49:37
    and I'm trying to remember which CMS it was but
  • 49:39
    the person I was on the panel with was there representing
  • 49:42
    this closed source content management system—
  • 49:44
    [Female] It was Expression Engine.
  • 49:46
    [Eaton] No, this is the one that their client had just paid
  • 49:48
    a quarter of a million dollars for a 1 year license
  • 49:53
    to use it. Closed source, but they were sold on the feature set,
  • 49:57
    signed the paperwork, and this was somebody who had built sites
  • 50:00
    with it and was basically coming up to sort of represent
  • 50:03
    the perspective of that CMS.
  • 50:05
    [Female] It was totally Expression Engine.
  • 50:06
    [Eaton] No, Expression Engine is not a quarter of a million dollars
  • 50:09
    for a yearly license.
  • 50:11
    [Female] I remember that guy,
  • 50:15
    because he was like the audience was gasping.
  • 50:18
    [Eaton] Tiffany Farris of panel tier was the one who was
  • 50:20
    actually representing it.
  • 50:22
    Well, the problem is, 30 minutes before the panel started,
  • 50:25
    the email went out announcing that oh, this CMS has been end of lifed.
  • 50:30
    Oh, you paid us a quarter of a million dollars.
  • 50:35
    You still have the legal right to use that for a year.
  • 50:37
    We will still let you do that.
  • 50:40
    We won't be adding new features.
  • 50:42
    We won't really actually promise if there will be bug fixes
  • 50:45
    until, you know, February there will be a support number
  • 50:47
    you can call.
  • 50:49
    Just paying large amounts of money and using
  • 50:53
    closed source project does not exactly guarantee you
  • 50:56
    that you will not be left in that same
  • 50:58
    [panicked] situation that the danger of like the primary developer
  • 51:04
    on open source project being hit by a bus,
  • 51:07
    the same thing can happen.
  • 51:10
    The biggest difference is, and this is coming back to that whole
  • 51:13
    4 core freedoms thing,
  • 51:15
    should that happen, that crowd of angry people saying "What?
  • 51:19
    I use this!"
  • 51:21
    has the source code.
  • 51:22
    You say, OK, who's the smartest person in the room?
  • 51:24
    You, dude, you get to fix this!
  • 51:27
    The ability to say well, it's abandoned, we can unabandon this.
  • 51:33
    That is built into the system.
  • 51:36
    You may not like that option,
  • 51:38
    but there's a fundamental freedom and safety net
  • 51:41
    in being able to say I cannot, literally cannot
  • 51:44
    be trapped in that horrible, I just wrote a quarter of a million
  • 51:48
    dollar check and now it's just going to gather dust,
  • 51:51
    and there's nothing I can do about that.
  • 51:57
    Somehow I just managed to switch
  • 52:02
    [Female] OK, who knows a good joke?
  • 52:05
    Seriously.
  • 52:08
    [Eaton] OK, whew, those were my presenter notes!
  • 52:11
    I'm still going to give that a B minus.
  • 52:15
    Although it isn't guaranteed that you're going to magically get
  • 52:19
    new features just because a lot of people use something,
  • 52:22
    you can say confidently
  • 52:24
    the option is there should the worst happen.
  • 52:28
    I've got it, I have all of the same things
  • 52:31
    that the original developers had.
  • 52:34
    If the company shuts down or if Drees decides,
  • 52:37
    "Screw it! I'm going to WordPress!"
  • 52:40
    Odds are diminishingly slim I would say,
  • 52:44
    but all of the guts of it are there.
  • 52:47
    There's nothing stopping everybody else from keeping on
  • 52:49
    and rolling with it. And that's considerable.
  • 52:53
    There's a lot of comfort in that if you are okay with saying
  • 52:57
    it's not going to be supported, but I can grab some people together
  • 53:01
    and we can do that.
  • 53:03
    The second to last one is this, it's already done.
  • 53:07
    If open source software is already written, why wouldn't
  • 53:12
    I use it?
  • 53:13
    This is a lot less compelling for somebody who's considering
  • 53:16
    like buying a giant package, but it can be very compelling
  • 53:20
    for somebody who's considering rolling their own.
  • 53:22
    For those sort of bleeding edge innovator users
  • 53:25
    that Democratizing Innovation talked about at the front end,
  • 53:29
    this is usually the only kind of option they have.
  • 53:32
    The stuff that we can go get off the shelf just plain doesn't do
  • 53:37
    what we need it to.
  • 53:39
    So when the choice between start from scratch
  • 53:42
    and roll your own or buy something that doesn't even do
  • 53:45
    what you need it to do are there,
  • 53:47
    open source software by virtue of already being done
  • 53:51
    and already having people working on it
  • 53:54
    even if an open source software project is the like, gets you
  • 53:56
    get to 60 percent, 80 percent of the way there,
  • 53:59
    that's a significant advantage over having to
  • 54:02
    start from scratch. That's actually how I found Drupal.
  • 54:06
    I was trying to write my own CMS from scratch, there's like a special
  • 54:09
    club of the sad like friends-y people who said I'll write a CMS because
  • 54:15
    by golly, I know what it ought to do!
  • 54:17
    And they get like 10 percent of the way through and go,
  • 54:19
    oh, God, I have to write a CMS now!
  • 54:21
    That's how I found Drupal.
  • 54:24
    A lot of key decisions about how I wanted to store
  • 54:26
    content. I had stories and there were different story types,
  • 54:31
    and you could add fields to story types.
  • 54:33
    They called them nodes but that was actually what sold me years ago.
  • 54:37
    It was like, they already made the same decisions, and
  • 54:39
    they already wrote it. That was the selling point for me.
  • 54:44
    And I'm actually going to give that a solid B plus.
  • 54:46
    If your choice is write it from scratch or at least
  • 54:50
    start with work that someone has already done,
  • 54:51
    that's incredibly compelling.
  • 54:54
    Other people's fixed bugs
  • 54:56
    are bugs you don't have to discover and fix yourself.
  • 54:59
    But then finally, we're at this like
  • 55:02
    really, really, really compelling final pitch for open source
  • 55:06
    that often gets grouped totally with like the hippie hand waving
  • 55:10
    it's free, man, it's open!
  • 55:13
    But looking through the reasons why user-driven innovation
  • 55:17
    is such a powerful concept
  • 55:19
    across all kinds of disciplines,
  • 55:22
    the idea that you are ultimately at the wheel
  • 55:26
    when you are using free software or open source,
  • 55:29
    there's responsibility that comes with that.
  • 55:33
    It's not just a basket full of puppies,
  • 55:35
    but this is really, really compelling.
  • 55:38
    All of the other primary advantages of open source and free software
  • 55:42
    ultimately accrue from that fundamental fact that you're
  • 55:45
    at the wheel and you can do with it what you need.
  • 55:48
    If it just does everything you need out of the box, then bonus!
  • 55:52
    But if it doesn't, if at some point in the future there's something
  • 55:55
    more you need, either you can find somebody else
  • 55:58
    who happened to have had that same itch and scratched it
  • 56:01
    or you can do it yourself and share it with others,
  • 56:04
    or keep it locked up in your software safe or whatever you want to do,
  • 56:08
    but the freedom to do that is yours.
  • 56:11
    You are at the wheel, and considering how easily I get lost
  • 56:16
    when driving, take a GPS.
  • 56:19
    But that's a really big deal,
  • 56:23
    and ultimately, those 4 freedoms
  • 56:26
    of open source, the ability to use, study and dissect, modify,
  • 56:31
    and share the stuff that you do with it,
  • 56:33
    those 4 freedoms are basically your ultimate safety valve
  • 56:36
    escape hatch from bad scenarios.
  • 56:39
    If you don't want to have to touch software period, end of story,
  • 56:44
    that's not very compelling.
  • 56:45
    But if you're concerned about being trapped
  • 56:49
    in those ugly dead ends, the freedom zero
  • 56:53
    of open source is sort of that ultimate lever that you can pull
  • 56:56
    and say I've got it and I can keep going.
  • 56:58
    And I can probably find other people with similar needs
  • 57:00
    who will be interested in doing the same thing.
  • 57:02
    I'll blow through these real quickly.
  • 57:05
    I think I'm a minute and a half over.
  • 57:07
    I only have 3 more slides.
  • 57:09
    [Female] You're in great shape, you're doing great.
  • 57:12
    [Eaton] Phew, thank you.
  • 57:14
    Usually I run out of time way before I'm out of slides.
  • 57:16
    [Female] You're out of time, but...
  • 57:18
    [Eaton] OK, OK, I'll go fast then!
  • 57:19
    So like those pro/cons, the different pitches for open source,
  • 57:24
    they're less reasons than trade-offs,
  • 57:27
    things that you can balance.
  • 57:28
    Like the idea of you're ultimately trading cost
  • 57:31
    of licensing for responsibility.
  • 57:34
    You're getting responsibility
  • 57:35
    and you have to account for that,
  • 57:36
    but you do significantly lower licensing costs
  • 57:40
    and stuff like that.
  • 57:42
    You can gain access to a sort of the short line
  • 57:47
    to actually getting changes and valuable additions made
  • 57:51
    to a piece of software via participation
  • 57:54
    and engagement with the other people that are doing this.
  • 57:56
    This is something that Eric von Hippel's
  • 57:57
    book on Democratizing Innovation talks about too,
  • 58:00
    the idea that these really leading-edge users
  • 58:02
    end up collaborating with each other frequently
  • 58:05
    and they share innovations amongst themselves,
  • 58:07
    it's not just, people innovate, it goes up to manufacturers
  • 58:10
    and then it gets disseminated.
  • 58:11
    Often these communities work together to figure out solutions
  • 58:15
    to problems, and access to those kinds of engines of figuring out
  • 58:19
    solutions to tough problems happens via participation.
  • 58:23
    That's the only way that it happens in this kind of system.
  • 58:26
    You can't just magically get the benefits until it
  • 58:32
    bubbles its way up and makes the long traveling chain
  • 58:35
    to a manufacturer who can do stuff with it and stuff like that
  • 58:37
    without participating directly.
  • 58:39
    The other one is, although quality isn't guaranteed,
  • 58:42
    quality is a common outcome of the level of transparency,
  • 58:48
    because when people can see whether or not something's
  • 58:50
    actually good, this code is terrible,
  • 58:53
    either it tends to die because people mock it bitterly
  • 58:57
    and refuse to use it, or it ends up growing and thriving
  • 59:00
    or somebody says I like this idea, but honestly,
  • 59:03
    let's fix this.
  • 59:05
    So there is an emergent kind of quality
  • 59:08
    that happens in open source just by virtue of
  • 59:10
    that transparency, there's no black boxes in open source.
  • 59:13
    And there is a safety in numbers factor.
  • 59:16
    If you're in a project with a million users
  • 59:18
    that's open source, you can fairly expect that if the people
  • 59:23
    writing the software right now get hit by a fleet of buses,
  • 59:26
    there are hands that are probably going to be able to
  • 59:29
    step up and help—it won't be a picnic for a while—
  • 59:33
    it's a transition, but those capabilities of being able to
  • 59:36
    leverage all the other people who are using it
  • 59:39
    and often doing those small innovations,
  • 59:41
    that's definitely there.
  • 59:43
    You can achieve speed via
  • 59:46
    using other people's stuff that they've already done,
  • 59:48
    and fundamentally, you're in control of your destiny
  • 59:51
    in the sense that if you know how to maintain your car
  • 59:54
    without taking it to the shop, you are in control of
  • 59:57
    your travel destiny in a way that I personally, as someone who
  • 1:00:02
    stares hard in my car and says huh, yep,
  • 1:00:06
    I am not in control of my destiny the way somebody
  • 1:00:09
    who knows how to maintain their car is.
  • 1:00:11
    That's a big advantage.
  • 1:00:13
    I want to close with a final quote from my favorite book
  • 1:00:15
    in the entire universe. One of his kickers is that
  • 1:00:20
    again, it's this idea that users who innovate and actively share
  • 1:00:25
    their innovations with other people engaged in the same kind of process
  • 1:00:29
    often see much greater benefits
  • 1:00:32
    in a sort of multiplying effect to what they're putting in
  • 1:00:36
    because it gives them access to that much smaller pool
  • 1:00:39
    of these really vigorous people
  • 1:00:41
    who are doing the crazy edge case stuff
  • 1:00:42
    that hasn't bubbled out all of the way yet.
  • 1:00:46
    It's sort of like you're trading your little innovations,
  • 1:00:49
    those artifacts that you needed along the way
  • 1:00:52
    for access into the club of people who are doing the same kind
  • 1:00:55
    of thing and trying to figure out solutions to problems
  • 1:00:57
    that aren't broadly disseminated yet.
  • 1:00:59
    That's a lot of where the power lies.
  • 1:01:02
    And the importance of those user innovators figuring out
  • 1:01:07
    how to combine their efforts
  • 1:01:08
    is really, really significant.
  • 1:01:10
    Which finally brings us back to that progression.
  • 1:01:13
    You know, there's simply using
  • 1:01:16
    open source software—download it, install it, hooray!
  • 1:01:18
    I've got open source.
  • 1:01:20
    They're supporting it, basically saying I want to help you
  • 1:01:23
    because you're making it.
  • 1:01:25
    There's contributing it like saying
  • 1:01:26
    I've got this thing I made, I needed it,
  • 1:01:29
    other people can use it too, and then there's that
  • 1:01:32
    full-on collaboration.
  • 1:01:33
    There's the crowd of people saying hey, we're doing this
  • 1:01:35
    surfboard jumping thing too.
  • 1:01:38
    You did a thing with your board, what about this?
  • 1:01:40
    Hey, how would you solve this problem?
  • 1:01:42
    That collaborative effect is really powerful.
  • 1:01:45
    It's not always possible, sometimes
  • 1:01:47
    you've got a problem that only you have.
  • 1:01:50
    But in a lot of situations, especially with large communities
  • 1:01:53
    like Drupal's, it's very common that you'll be able to find
  • 1:01:56
    other people with the same pain points who are grappling with
  • 1:01:59
    the same tough questions and figuring out how to approach
  • 1:02:02
    problems in that sort of way.
  • 1:02:04
    Isn't just a hey, karma, open source people will love you for that!
  • 1:02:09
    It's the way innovation has happened for hundreds of years.
  • 1:02:13
    That's how it happens on the cutting edge.
  • 1:02:15
    And open source is basically a way to tap into that
  • 1:02:18
    in a really fascinating way.
  • 1:02:19
    That's it, open source is a way of democratizing
  • 1:02:23
    innovation in software. I think it's awesome,
  • 1:02:26
    and if you want to check out good books on that,
  • 1:02:29
    Democratizing Innovation is also a Creative Commons licensed
  • 1:02:33
    free download. You can buy a physical copy from MIT Press,
  • 1:02:35
    or you can go to lb.cm/diwd-gnu.
  • 1:02:43
    It's an excellent book, and it's basically
  • 1:02:46
    full of graphs that you can impress people with
  • 1:02:48
    like for 300 years, this has worked well.
  • 1:02:51
    It really I think helps step back
  • 1:02:54
    from the purely ideological approach to advocating open source
  • 1:02:57
    software and helps frame it as an approach for
  • 1:03:00
    leading-edge innovative companies
  • 1:03:02
    who really want to solve problems that aren't commonplace yet.
  • 1:03:05
    That's all I've got, thank you.
  • 1:03:07
    [Female] Thank you. [Applause]
  • 1:03:12
    [Eaton] Do we have time for any questions?
  • 1:03:13
    [Female] Yeah, we do have time for questions.
  • 1:03:15
    I just got a blip of Internet and I saw that one of you tweeted to me
  • 1:03:18
    half an hour ago that it's kind of warm in here.
  • 1:03:20
    Sorry, I thought it was because I drank a half a beer.
  • 1:03:23
    I thought that was just me.
  • 1:03:25
    I have some questions, cheers!
  • 1:03:29
    Does anyone else have any questions here in the room?
  • 1:03:31
    Yes, go, sir.
  • 1:03:35
    [Male] When you're talking about HyperCard, onto that
  • 1:03:40
    was more that, just the ease of being able to modify
  • 1:03:44
    and with the Drupal community,
  • 1:03:49
    it doesn't seem quite as easy, especially when it comes to
  • 1:03:52
    certain modules, it's not easy to just say
  • 1:03:56
    hey, let me just make a fork at this and then just
  • 1:03:59
    make a modification and make it go a different route
  • 1:04:02
    as some other communities are.
  • 1:04:05
    Do you see that changing?
  • 1:04:07
    [Female] Let me go ahead and repeat the question.
  • 1:04:11
    [Eaton] Can I? [Female] Please, yeah.
  • 1:04:14
    [Eaton] In a nutshell, I think the question was
  • 1:04:16
    the example of HyperCard early on, one of the advantages
  • 1:04:19
    to HyperCard was that it just had this ridiculously easy learning curve.
  • 1:04:23
    It came with address books and journal programs
  • 1:04:26
    and there was like dozens of example stacks that you could just
  • 1:04:28
    do stuff with, and then you could very quickly ease into,
  • 1:04:32
    I want a button here, you drag a button in.
  • 1:04:35
    And, you know, 6 months later you were
  • 1:04:37
    looking at a 400-page book called Danny Goodman's
  • 1:04:40
    HyperCard Handbook
  • 1:04:41
    which was basically like the Bible for everyone who ever
  • 1:04:44
    tinkered with HyperCard and you were learning how to program
  • 1:04:47
    and writing ridiculously complex stuff.
  • 1:04:49
    But like there was a real, legitimate smooth learning curve
  • 1:04:51
    up to that kind of stuff that you didn't have to tackle.
  • 1:04:55
    I mean, the simplest HyperCard stacks were literally a paint program
  • 1:04:58
    with buttons to flip between things.
  • 1:05:00
    And that is definitely a felt issue in the Drupal community.
  • 1:05:04
    You know, Drupal started out in a lot of ways as being
  • 1:05:06
    very simple to just click stuff together.
  • 1:05:08
    As the tools have become more powerful,
  • 1:05:11
    it can very easily become more daunting
  • 1:05:15
    to people who are trying to get up to speed and
  • 1:05:18
    even saying I like that module but I want it to do
  • 1:05:21
    something slightly differently.
  • 1:05:22
    There's a lot to learn about how to engage and figure out how to
  • 1:05:25
    get your changes in.
  • 1:05:27
    This is actually one of the reasons why I've been really vigorously
  • 1:05:29
    advocating that we ship with a number of install profiles
  • 1:05:32
    with Drupal that sort of like, you know, I want a simple blog,
  • 1:05:36
    or I want a little community site or something like that.
  • 1:05:39
    They would sort of be like the example stacks that
  • 1:05:41
    HyperCard came with.
  • 1:05:43
    It's already built to do X.
  • 1:05:45
    It's not perfect, but you can start adding, maybe I want an extra
  • 1:05:49
    field on that. You're not just left
  • 1:05:50
    saying build your site from scratch and architect it yourself.
  • 1:05:54
    Congratulations, here's a toolbox.
  • 1:05:57
    I think that's definitely a felt problem
  • 1:06:00
    that the community is trying to figure out good ways to.
  • 1:06:04
    I think Earl Miles' Views
  • 1:06:06
    module started out around the Drupal 4.6 era
  • 1:06:11
    many years ago and it was literally 1 screen, you opened it up,
  • 1:06:15
    there were like a list of checkboxes, and you could make some choices
  • 1:06:18
    and it would spit out a page or a block or an RSS feed.
  • 1:06:21
    You could list stuff.
  • 1:06:22
    And as it accrued more functionality, it got more complex
  • 1:06:25
    and now it's coming around to like there are wizard modes
  • 1:06:28
    and canned views that you can customize
  • 1:06:30
    so there are sort of like second-order solutions to some of these problems.
  • 1:06:34
    I don't see Drupal getting fundamentally simpler
  • 1:06:39
    like internally for a long time, because that's hard.
  • 1:06:42
    Simplicity is hard.
  • 1:06:44
    It's no easy task, but I think we can start
  • 1:06:49
    looking at sort of the HyperCard let's ship with some stacks
  • 1:06:52
    that do stuff as a starting point.
  • 1:06:55
    I think that can actually help considerably
  • 1:06:58
    just because HyperCard, although people did all kinds
  • 1:07:01
    of cool stuff with it, I think if it had just come with a blank
  • 1:07:04
    white screen and people had been told knock yourself out,
  • 1:07:07
    you can do stuff, I don't think it ever would have taken off
  • 1:07:10
    to the degree it had.
  • 1:07:11
    I think that giving people sort of a running start
  • 1:07:13
    and an on-ramp into things that they can say,
  • 1:07:16
    oh, this is what I could do with X.
  • 1:07:19
    That's powerful.
  • 1:07:21
    And in Drupal, you can say somebody did this cool thing
  • 1:07:24
    on a site, I'm going to monkey around,
  • 1:07:25
    how did they set up their fields?
  • 1:07:26
    What was that view that they built that did this crazy thing?
  • 1:07:29
    Some of that capability is there and dissecting it,
  • 1:07:33
    but we don't give people many starting points
  • 1:07:35
    to actually effectively figure out how a cool thing was made.
  • 1:07:39
    We do blog posts about it, we do articles about
  • 1:07:42
    how a cool site was made, but we don't just hand people
  • 1:07:45
    a thing that does a thing and let them poke at it much.
  • 1:07:49
    And I think that would be a really big boost for Drupal.
  • 1:07:52
    [Female] Yeah, installation profiles. I think it's kind of
  • 1:07:55
    moving in that direction, hopefully a little bit.
  • 1:07:57
    Yes, please?
  • 1:08:00
    [Male] To reinforce that with your HyperCard analogy,
  • 1:08:03
    one of the things that happened with HyperCard where people
  • 1:08:07
    traded, this is how I built this kind of button.
  • 1:08:09
    [Eaton] Yeah, people collect and trade and swap the things
  • 1:08:13
    that they'd made with it.
  • 1:08:15
    [Male] I was building [inaudible] based community site at one point
  • 1:08:19
    and I thought, I wonder how the views were put together on
  • 1:08:22
    [inaudible] but there's nowhere to find that out.
  • 1:08:26
    We don't trade step 1.1 and stuff like this,
  • 1:08:32
    how to build the views, how I build my views to set up this?
  • 1:08:37
    [Eaton] I think that's an interesting point.
  • 1:08:39
    What he was saying was that although the software itself,
  • 1:08:43
    the code for modules and stuff like that
  • 1:08:45
    is open source and we've got it checked in,
  • 1:08:47
    you can knock yourself out, you can open up panels
  • 1:08:50
    and see all the code that was used to write it if you want to.
  • 1:08:53
    The things we build using Drupal tools like
  • 1:08:57
    how I assembled a particular view
  • 1:08:59
    or the set of crazy configuration options I chose
  • 1:09:03
    to enable this functionality,
  • 1:09:07
    we're still as a community grappling with effective
  • 1:09:09
    ways to really share and distribute those kinds of things.
  • 1:09:13
    The Features module, if you've heard of that,
  • 1:09:17
    it's basically a tool for capturing configuration and baking it
  • 1:09:20
    into a module that you can check into source control
  • 1:09:22
    and give away and distribute, but I think there's still
  • 1:09:25
    a lot of heated discussion around the best ways to facilitate that,
  • 1:09:29
    even when the spirit is willing, but the source control tools
  • 1:09:32
    are weak for some of those things.
  • 1:09:35
    The desire to disseminate and share those things is there,
  • 1:09:39
    but we're still figuring out good ways to distribute those sort of
  • 1:09:42
    second-order innovations that people are building out
  • 1:09:45
    of those building blocks.
  • 1:09:48
    [Female] Yes, we have time for 1 more question
  • 1:09:49
    if Jeff Eaton will answer it in 30 seconds.
  • 1:09:51
    [Female] I don't know if mine is worth it.
  • 1:09:55
    [Eaton] 30 seconds!
  • 1:09:57
    [Female] It's going to be funny.
  • 1:09:59
    [Female] To reiterate because I was in Andy's session about
  • 1:10:01
    the community and someone had brought up sort of like
  • 1:10:06
    how the community can
  • 1:10:10
    share the way that we talk to our end users
  • 1:10:15
    about how you use open source.
  • 1:10:17
    The installations that we do for them, and she was sort of
  • 1:10:23
    she had kind of talked about there's
  • 1:10:25
    governance and more of a structure being built up
  • 1:10:31
    and then also she was talking about usability testing
  • 1:10:36
    and there might be a place to begin doing stuff like that?
  • 1:10:39
    [Eaton] I think the idea was
  • 1:10:41
    for even things like non-code issues,
  • 1:10:44
    things like documentation
  • 1:10:45
    and instructions on how the heck do I go use this thing
  • 1:10:48
    that was built, that's another kind of
  • 1:10:51
    information that we're just learning how to share and disseminate
  • 1:10:54
    effectively so that you don't have to
  • 1:10:56
    write up the documentation for your site's end users
  • 1:10:59
    from scratch if other people have built very similar sites.
  • 1:11:02
    [Female] You could screen shot, but the time it takes
  • 1:11:07
    to write out those...
  • 1:11:09
    [Eaton] I think that's a great example
  • 1:11:11
    of like a kind of thing that could be shared that even when
  • 1:11:14
    we have the desire to, we're just beginning to sort of get up
  • 1:11:17
    on the curve of sharing and reusing that kind of stuff effectively.
  • 1:11:22
    [Female] And for the mic, you're talking about
  • 1:11:23
    sharing what kind of things?
  • 1:11:25
    [Eaton] Documentation, instructions, ways of communicating
  • 1:11:29
    to the people who are end users
  • 1:11:31
    of a website. They're not building the website,
  • 1:11:34
    but they need to use it.
  • 1:11:36
    The people who build the website
  • 1:11:40
    often get saddled with writing documentation and stuff.
  • 1:11:44
    [Female] Teaching people how to use it.
  • 1:11:45
    [Eaton] Yeah, that's a biggie.
  • 1:11:46
    I can definitely not answer that in 30 seconds,
  • 1:11:49
    but I can say it's something that a lot more people
  • 1:11:52
    are feeling the need for, which
  • 1:11:54
    when you look at the structure of how these things emerge,
  • 1:11:57
    it's terribly boring.
  • 1:11:59
    On the other hand, pipe hanging manufacturing equipment
  • 1:12:02
    unless you're somebody who uses it, it's not that thrilling.
  • 1:12:06
    But if there is someone who loves writing and loves
  • 1:12:12
    communicating with people,
  • 1:12:13
    then they will immediately be picked to death by vultures
  • 1:12:16
    who need documentation written.
  • 1:12:17
    Tom Geller, yes.
  • 1:12:21
    I think that's really interesting,
  • 1:12:24
    and I'm really looking forward to seeing because in the Drupal
  • 1:12:27
    community, it feels like we've got a large enough community now
  • 1:12:30
    that we're starting to get sub-communities of people
  • 1:12:33
    who have those felt needs.
  • 1:12:35
    It's not just software developers who want to share their software,
  • 1:12:38
    there's additional layers of people who want to share the work
  • 1:12:41
    that they've done and we're starting to take baby steps towards that.
  • 1:12:44
    [Female] And I think on Angie's behalf, I'd like to say,
  • 1:12:47
    that sounds like something you're volunteering to do!
  • 1:12:49
    [Laughter]

Why Open Source Matters

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If you're reading this message, you use Open Source software. The last fifteen years has seen the meteoric rise of tools like Linux, Apache, Firefox, WordPress, Drupal and more; simplyusing Open Source is old hat. When it comes to building your company's web strategy around open source tools, though, the decisions can be fuzzier. The best-known arguments for Open Source are often ideological rather than pragmatic, and fail to account for the different needs of different projects and businesses.

In this Do it with Drupal session, Jeff Eaton will explain the no-nonsense pros and cons of Open Source, covering the big wins as well as the tradeoffs and common pain points. Whether your business is testing the Open Source water, betting the farm on community-maintained software, or open-sourcing its own creations, you'll learn how to avoid common pitfalls and set yourself up for success.

Additional resources: