A blog for the enterprise open source community
In the OSI board we (must) trustMatthew Aslett, April 16, 2008 @ 7:18 am ET
Given the role the Open Source Initiative plays in protecting the open source brand and reviewing and approving licenses as conforming with the Open Source Definition, it is somewhat surprising how little interest there has been in the recent election of the OSI board.
As the OSI’s announcement explains, just two out of ten seats at the table were up for grabs as Raj Mathur and Matt Asay decided not to stand for reconfirmation.
Bruce Perens had previously campaigned to be considered alongside Martin Michlmayr and Harshad Gune and while he succeeded in that regard, he failed to win the votes needed to be elected to the board.
You may well be wondering “elected by who?”. One of the possibly unintended results of Bruce’s campaign has been to shed some light on the workings of the OSI and its elections. Mark Hinkle recently took a look at the OSI’s bylaws (which to be fair have always been available for everyone to see) and noted that “the bottom line is that no matter what the users, vendors, or even Bruce Perens want the board has no obligation to act based on their input.”
Which isn’t to say that this is necessarily a problem (it certainly hasn’t been to date), but it doesn’t mean that the election of the OSI shouldn’t be more widely reported and the structure and role of the OSI questioned or reconsidered. As Mark added:
“I suspect that many people are unaware of the workings of this important organization. They use, develop, and distribute open source software without a thought to the power the open source brand has. There are also many companies that rely on the open source brand to help grow their businesses. I think it’s worth our attention to consider whose running that show and how other organizations might join the governance of the brand.”
Ultimately, it comes down to a matter of trust. “When it comes right down to it the future of the brand is controlled by ten people who we ultimately have to have faith in to continue to do the right thing,” added Mark. “Hopefully my admission of my own ignorance educates and provokes the thoughts of others.”
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