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From Ross Gardler <>
Subject Re: Updates: IBM Lotus Symphony, Apache OpenOffice, IBM Docs and other fun stuff
Date Wed, 25 Jan 2012 14:48:11 GMT
On 25 January 2012 13:50, Rob Weir <> wrote:
> On Wed, Jan 25, 2012 at 7:08 AM, Graham Lauder <> wrote:
>> On Friday 20 Jan 2012 09:24:44 Donald Harbison wrote:


>>> Second, new features and function, worthy of consideration by this
>>> community as a 'Apache OpenOffice 4.0' release will be the primary focus
>>> for the IBM volunteers working in the project at Apache, after the project
>>> successfully completes the Apache 3.4 release.  See the AOO 4.0 Feature
>>> Planning wiki page here: **
>> IBM "volunteers?"  _I_  volunteer.  I don't get paid to be here, I come here
>> only on my own time.  That's what volunteers do, if someone is picking up a
>> salary to work on AOO code that's hardly volunteering, except maybe in
>> "doublespeak". Tsk!   However, whatever they're called, it will be good to see
>> them pushing along 4.0, we are at a point now, having been out of the market
>> for such a lengthy time, that with the new release there needs to be a
>> substantially different product.
> Let me challenge your views on this.  Anyone who participates in this
> project does so because they get more out of it than they put into it.

Agreed. I led a session at ApacheCon titled "Can I depend on Software
built By Volunteers?", the abstract is at [1] and the audio is at [2]
(no slides it was an off-the-cuff audience participation style

In this session we explore what it means to be a volunteer. We
challenge the mistaken opinion that volunteers cannot be paid. Having
established this we then look at whether volunteering in an ASF
project is usually driven by employment or "something else". What we
conclude is that it is "something else" in nearly all cases.

Consider that Jane is paid to deliver results for her employer. If
Jane finds that the best route to delivery is through community led
open source she ought to fight for the survival of that community at
all costs. It is in her interests to do so, both for her community
reputation (employability beyond her current role) and for her
employers satisfaction (employability in her current role). If Jane is
smart she will recognise that her personal reputation is more
important within the community than that of her employer. If she blows
her community reputation she loses her ability to deliver for her
employer as well as her ability to seek alternative employment
relating to that communities activities. A double whammy.

In ASF projects it is not possible for Jane's boss to say "make this
happen at any cost". If Jane thinks the move is inappropriate she can
simply say "that will not fly, it is not good for the community and we
cannot wield sufficient influence to force the community to comply".
Note, it is not Jane that is challenging her superiors, it is the
community she represents. At this point Jane's job is to figure out a
way forward that works for both the community and her employer.

Unfortunately, managing this balancing act is really hard to do. IMHO
this is why those who understand community led open source development
get paid more than most other developers.

The model is not perfect. It does break down if there is nobody to
represent alternative community views. However, as long as we have at
least one volunteer watching the "Bull Elephant" closely (nice analogy
Graham)  we will be fine (and historically this has been tested on
more than one occasion). It really doesn't matter who is paying for
our volunteers food, it only matters that they care about the



>  Further, they would be insane to participate in the project under any
> other conditions.  What they put in is obvious:  their time, their
> skills, their experience, their care, their overly long emails, etc.
> What they get out is less tangible, but it still exists.  In some
> cases it is a salary, in other cases it is enjoyment, or experience,
> reputation, etc.  Cash payments are they only form of reward.  Even
> those who think they are participating for purely altruistic reasons
> are doing so to enhance their self-image, imagining themselves to do
> altruistic deeds.  This is just basic balance of energy.  An animal
> will not survive long if it chases down and kills prey where the
> returned calories are less then those expended in the hunt.  Since no
> one has a gun to our heads, forcing them to work on this project,
> everyone here is a volunteer.  Everyone is free to go or remain, or
> participate to whatever level they feel gives them a sufficient reward
> (of any form) for their investment in the project.   Even those who
> are employed had and have a choice of jobs they could take.  Maybe
> they took their current job because it gave them the opportunity to
> continue participation in the project?  Any illusion about this basic
> fact, such as the the project has self-less martyrs and course
> mercenaries,  is just sentimentality and does not really promote clear
> thinking.  The form of your personal reward for working in the project
> has zero impact on your rights, abilities, prerogatives, status or (to
> me at least) the weight of your arguments in this project.
>>> - As part of the public
>>> discussions at Lotusphere, our product manager announced a proposed 'Apache
>>> OpenOffice 4 the IBM Edition' name. Yes, this is long and cumbersome. It is
>>> intended to describe what will be a future free download of Apache
>>> OpenOffice with extensions bundled in that are of interest to IBM
>>> customers; e.g. an extension to connect Apache OpenOffice to IBM
>>> Connections, a social networking offer (think Facebook for Business).
>>>  Connections offers Profiles, Community, Blogs, Wikis, Files etc. So an
>>> extension will enable users to save their documents directly to the 'Files'
>>> repository for community sharing, etc. Other extensions are being
>>> considered. All extensions will be no charge. There is no monetization play
>>> for Apache OpenOffice the IBM Edition as there was never one for IBM Lotus
>>> Symphony. We will need to seek the approval to use this proposed naming
>>> from Apache Trademarks and this PPMC. Look for that request soon.
>> I must admit this completely mystifies me.  I always tell small high street
>> retailers who sell machines with OOo on them: "Charge for it!"
>> The best test of value put on a product by the market is to sell against a
>> free competition and frankly I think Symphony would sell well as a consumer
>> product.  It looks good, it's interoperability, especially with MSO 07> file
>> formats is excellent, better than both LO and OOo, and it has UI enhancements
>> that I've been trying to get into OOo for years, especially Mail Merge and MDI
>> (which was an old Star Office 5 thing) and others.  Go the Symphony team!
>> Brilliant.   And yes I use and promote Symphony regularly.
>>> IBM is enthusiastic about the opportunity to collaborate with the community
>>> in a balanced way. You'll hopefully see that there is no hidden 'puppeteer'
>>> controlling our team member actions. Yes, we have individuals who are very
>>> active in Rob Weir and Juergen Schmidt, but we hope to see other
>>> individuals from our team contributing soon. Working in Apache is
>>> especially a big change of culture for our Chinese team, so I hope
>>> community members will be understanding and welcoming of this as you notice
>>> them begin to more actively participate and contribute as individuals. We
>>> believe there is an unusual and very exciting opportunity to bring new
>>> ideas and innovation to Apache OpenOffice. We also believe that many other
>>> like-minded companies and individuals will share this view, and step
>>> forward to actively participate in the community in the coming months.
>> [...snip...]
>>> Sorry about the long post. I do understand why it's easy to get caught up
>>> in the 'blind man and the elephant' game, and miss the whole damn animal in
>>> the process. IBM has often been accused of being an elephant, so I think
>>> this metaphor works here. We are very excited about the future of Apache
>>> OpenOffice, and will do our best to work to build a self-sustaining
>>> community based on diversity and balance. At the same time, you will see
>>> alot of energy and contributions coming forward over the coming months.
>> Don't apologise, I'm grateful you took the time and I'm glad IBM paid for that
>> time.  I am also glad you understand and I think the non-IBM community, even
>> given the above reservations, will take what we are comfortable with, at face
>> value and maybe over time a level of trust will emerge, it's just not going to
>> happen in 5 minutes.
>> I talked about power on the maillists way back at the beginning and the fact
>> that he who has time at the keyboard wields a considerable amount of
>> power despite the "Everyone has the same vote" rule and what holds true is
>> "Some are more equal than others".  True, it also means that shit is getting
>> done and that's the good side of the equation or at least you would hope so,
>> certainly evidence would point that way at present.
>> The problem tho is that the project starts to take on the personality of those
>> who are most present in terms of volume,  that has been evidenced by the
>> combative tenor of this maillist since the beginning.  The Community in the
>> old OOo system had it's moments and it's personalities, but the general tenor
>> was of a community doing what it loved, in the company of like minded people
>> with a raft of different skillsets in different communities.  It was a
>> community of communities.  Not saying it was perfect, but it was a lot more
>> welcoming than this community is at present.
>> Now IBM has zero to negative reputation in Open Source with a reputation of
>> being the most guarded entity on the block.  Secret deals to start the whole
>> Apache thing off first, but mouthing promises to be open.  Then the above
>> announcement, that was discussed in secret with the TDF but not a whisper to
>> the community or even so much as a heads up to the mentors.
>> Leopards and spots come to mind.
>> IBM staffers certainly seem to be making the most noise on the lists except
>> when it counts.  Take this announcement as a for instance.  The response to
>> concerns wrt the secrecy around this announcement from the top IBM guy here:
>> "If you'd come up with a few more crazy conspiracy theories we would have
>> talked to you!" and this to a mentor.
>> So you'll forgive us for for feeling like the blind man in the room with the
>> elephant wondering if and when it's going to take a dump..
>> The other thing that has a certain irony to it is the constant pot shots at
>> the Novell / SUSE guys, given Novell's long standing contributions to OOo and
>> OpenSource in general in contrast to IBM's limited to non existent
>> contribution.  And I realise that this is possibly more perception than
>> reality, but you're a marketing / pr guy, so I don't need to tell you the
>> connection between perception and everything.
>> So, the Symphony contribution is pleasing, which I already stated back at the
>> first announcement.
>> The dropping of Symphony in favour of an IBM edition of AOO, I can see the
>> value to the community from a marketing and brand recognition POV so that has
>> positives.
>> In general, I think, on the surface the positives outweigh the negatives and
>> while the subtext takes a little translating at times, the ASF's positive
>> actions with OOo give me a good feeling about the future.
>> But there's that Bull Elephant again, so I keep a wary eye out.
>> Cheers
>> GL

Ross Gardler (@rgardler)
Programme Leader (Open Development)

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