27 Oct 2001 Qbert   » (Journeyer)

Birthday Musings

Birthdays are a good time for reflection. I wrote up a summary of my free software activities and my experience at Vovida/Cisco. In the process I got frustrated with the adoption of Vocal and wrote a call to action, visible in the notes section of my page. Here is this wonderful open-source technology, a huge gift to the community, and almost no one has heard of it. Cisco is marketing it to systems integrators; in the meantime the free software community has fallen by the wayside, after the initial disappointment we felt when people didn't hop on the bandwagon.

It's an interesting lesson that we released a huge project like Vocal and saw so little community response. Part of the reason, of course, is that the telephony business is so specialized, an niche engineering domain separate from free software. Still, it's very hard to build a community by fiat. Other commercial open-source ventures have had the same problem. For all the talk about their power, self-organizing processes are hard to control.

I have the feeling I will have to promote it to the community myself. First I can write an Advogato article; next I can start a home page for community Vocal installations; finally I can come up with a working installation. That's a lot of work. How much of it I do remains to be seen. I may end up pursuing my tentative plan to scale back to part time at my job and devote the rest of my time to free software. It will take some significant belt-tightening. (Living in San Francisco is not cheap.)

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