Older blog entries for sohodojo (starting at number 5)

At Sohodojo we have a few 'words to live by'. They include 'Small is Good' and a corollary, 'Simpler is Better'. As developers, most of us have learned this viscerally with regard to our own programming habits.

But simplicity and intimacy (an aspect of smallness, Miller's "Magic Number 7 plus/minus 3") apply at many levels of our lives.

The Advogato community as compared to the SourceXchange marketplace/community is a clear case in point my recent experience.

Frank Castellucci and I have a small OSS contract at SourceXchange, Spec Writing for Web-based Project Planning.

Visit to the SourceXchange site and see what kind of impression you get about what is going on there. Play a little game of 'Find the developers'... the community that is the 'backbone' of sXc's OSS marketplace. Try to find and get juiced about the projects that sXc has been matchmaker on. It's tough.

You are much more likely to find how they are 'moving and shaking' to spend the $35 million in venture money they have raised. You'll see announcements of all the other movers and shakers they are partnering with and how grand and wonderful their plans are for mainstreaming OSS.

It's not that doing this 'big corporate partnering' stuff is bad. It just should not be at the expense of, or at a higher priority than doing a good job of, their core competency which is developing and nurturing the developer/project community which is the basis of their business model.

The stats of our logs this month tell the tale. Here are the unique visitor sessions referred to Sohodojo (we host our sXc project website) from SourceXchange and from Advogato:

  • SourceXchange to Sohodojo: 110

  • Advogato to Sohodojo: 1165

(These unique visits are through October 1-20th.)

Simpler is better. With one (politically incorrect) GIF image and some clever programming (mod_virgule), Advogato is helping me (and Sohodojo) network and collaborate more effectively than the 'big guns' at SourceXchange. I am meeting exciting new people with similar research and development interests. Folks are finding out about who I am, what juices me up, and vice versa.

This is very exciting and very interesting... and I am glad to be a part of it.

Finally, if you want to delve into a bit more of the 'Simplicity Movement', check out author Bill Jensen's SimplerWork website which complements his 'Simplicity: The New Competitive Advantage' book.

17 Oct 2000 (updated 18 Oct 2000 at 14:38 UTC) »

Charles (cmacd),

Thanks for your thoughtful post on OSS and 'Third World' social problems. Since I am not a well-connected youngster with a bunch of OSS buddies on Advogato to cross-certify me, I can't reply publicly to your post. At the moment, all I can do is post this diary post. (Update: I left 'Observer Hell' thanks to a couple additional confidence votes, so I can now post this entry as a reply!)

While I would agree with some that the Third World has massive problems which defy solution with software alone, folks who have replied to your article may be missing an important point.

It isn't what Third World 'Have-nots' do _directly_ with OSS initially that matters. Rather, it is far more important that 'guerrilla activists' have access to powerful software technologies to mount their own grassroots campaigns to contribute to solving these pressing social problems that matters.

For example, my wife and I were Executive Consultants in object technology at IBM leading the classic 'Road Warrior' lives and it was killing us, spiritually as well as physically. We are now hosts of Sohodojo, an OSS 'applied R&D Lab' where we are attempting to rally OSS developers to contribute to our 'role/actor executable business model' technology agenda.

We are doing this because we believe such technology is essential as the 'software infrastructure' for 'Small is Good' business-webs which we intend to apply in business development within the U.S. Enterprise Communities and Empowerment Zones. (You will often hear these communities referred to as 'distressed' or targets for 'renewal'.)

For us, it is more important what you do with technology rather than seeing technology as an end in itself. That is the greatest frustration I find with the OSS community. We have so many folks with all this energy and skills and they think that technology for its own sake is the motivation for what they do. Technology is only really valuable when you apply it to something useful.

For us, that did not mean traveling around the world helping IBM customers build yet another 'enterprise system'.

If you would like to know more about our perspective, including our recent political 'change insurgency', feel free to visit these URLs:

Shamrocks and Nanocorps: Bridging the Digital Divide with 'Small is Good' Business Webs

Our 'EC Inclusion Amendment' change insurgency where we are fighting 'pork barrel politics' which is threatening to subvert the 'American Community Renewal and New Markets Empowerment Act', and

Role/Actor Scenario Patterns: A Model-driven Approach to Entrepreneurial Free Agent 'Elastic Networking'

Again, thank you, Charles, for your provocative post. I am sure it will cause at least some folks to think about these important challenges.

Dacta: Thanks for your comments about Freshmeat and their not accepting 'spec writing' projects. I hear you in terms of the 'many start, few amount to much' dynamic.

But I think that is where the 'human editorial review' process comes into play. Freshmeat should not 'blanket refuse' all projects in the early stages of the development lifecycle. They should take a look at the submission and make a judgement call.

Our 'Spec Writing for Web-based Project Planning' project, for example, is piling up a bunch of useful information which is of interest and utility to Open Source developers. I know this because our project homepage is now the third most active entrypoint into Sohodojo! And the interesting thing is that only about a quarter of those folks come in by way of our 'active project' page at SourceXchange. By far, they arrive by search engine queries which include 'Open Source' and 'project planning' or 'project management'. So we see that there is interest and value in our work.

We'd sure like developers to be able to find us more directly via Freshmeat. Perhaps, they will consider a 'provisional status' for projects in the early stages of the development lifecycle... accepted with a 'produce a tangible result by this date or be dropped' category for specs and such?

Anyway, Dacta, thanks for your comments. Regardless of what Freshmeat does, my minor rant did have the positive effect of bringing in my first cert- votes! I'm inching my way out of Observer status!

Cool, I got my first certification votes last night! I guess some folks resonated with my minor rant about Freshmeat not respecting the early stages of the software development lifecycle.

I was starting to think, "Well, the idea here is cool, but it seems biased toward an 'In Crowd' dynamic..." As I poked around it seemed like if you and your friends 'ganged up' on behalf of each other that you could pile up certs and move out of the nowhereville of Observer status.

Sure, this sounds like 'Sour grapes' from a 'loner'/'outlier'... and well, I guess it is. But then an interesting thing happened this morning when I got some votes from kindly strangers...

Anyone that voted for me last night became a 'Who the Hell is that?' Quest for me this morning. I read their diaries closer than I had read diaries previously. I went to their homepages. I went to their projects. No, I didn't do code reviews. But I poked around enough to get a decent feeling for the person... and then I reciprocated with cert votes for them!

That's when I realized how deceptively constructive Advogato is... I am getting to know about folks that I would not likely come into contact with in my daily routine. It's like a 'neighborhood pub' for Open Source developers as opposed to a 'Certification Guild'. Sure, there is a great need for project-based, post-mortem, public 'trust' (competence) metrics, but there is also a need for this less formal 'buddy system'... it's like a 'Mixer' for the freshmen class, a social environment to meet and greet your peers.

Thanks, Raph, for sharing your sandbox with the rest of us!

P.S. If you want to help spread the word about Advogato, you might consider using the 'Advogato member' gif images I created for use at Sohodojo.

10 Oct 2000 (updated 10 Oct 2000 at 22:25 UTC) »

I am a co-lead developer on a 'Wish List' project funded at SourceXchange (sXc). The project is 'Specification Writing for Web- based Project Planning Software' and it is co-funded by Collab.Net and Opendesk.com. You'll find the sXc 'active project' page here, our Advogato project page here and our project's homepage here at The Open Source Collaboration Technologies Competency Center hosted at Sohodojo.

We are not suggesting that there are not some interesting Open Source offerings in this domain. What is important about this effort is that the sponsors have funded the earliest stages of the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) starting with a good foundation look at the problem domain including a 'comparables analysis'.

Since this project is intended to be for the benefit of the Open Source development community, we've been trying to 'spread the word' about our project. As you'll notice on our Advogato project page, we don't have a Freshmeat listing URL. This is because we were denied a listing because our project deliverable is not a 'downloadable piece of software'!?!?

Damn! What a narrow and inappropirate criteria for an index listing. This project will certainly lead to MANY future bits of downloadable software, and at some level, the SRS itself can be considered 'downloadable' (although it is a 'document' rather than a 'piece of software').

I'll fire a note back to Freshmeat making a case for their expanding the index to accommodate the earliest stages of the Software Development Lifecycle. But I don't expect too kindly a response. Too often Open Source projects jump way ahead of the game and folks start slinging code before examining the problem domain, considering what's come before and deciding what to build.

I hope this trend is just 'early adopter' enthusiasm and we'll see an evening out of support and recognition for the all important front-end problem analysis. Having spent twenty-odd years as an 'extreme' Smalltalk developer, I absolutely know that the time you take to 'know your domain' pays off many times over when the code starts flying.

What do you think? (I tried to add a Wiki tag here to allow interaction, but I don't think I know what I am doing!)

30 Sep 2000 (updated 30 Sep 2000 at 19:10 UTC) »
Attention: 'Advogato Member' Images available

Hello Trustees and... the rest of us ;-)

I've spent nearly 20 years as what would today be called an 'extreme' Smalltalk programmer. As I transition from the 'Ivory Tower' of Smalltalk to Internet- based 'scripting' programming, I am learning to deal with flat files for source, "programmer's editors" as a development environment and CVS for version control. How I miss Smalltalk... but how I love the collaborative, open world of Open Source Internet programming.

Trust metrics are essential to my vision for role/actor executable business model frameworks. So I look forward to benefitting from, and contributing to, this most interesting community.

In the meantime, here's something I hope community members will find useful... an small 'Advogato Member' GIF image for use in linking from your site(s) to Advogato. It comes in two 'flavors':

We're using an image tag wrapped with an anchor tag to point to my 'sohodojo' person page. If you want to see how this works in-line, go here and 'view source' for details.

Advogato community members are welcome to use these images to help spread the word about this important community and your involvement in it.

If anyone with home-page article-posting permission reads this diary entry, please feel free to post a link to this entry to help distribute these images throughout the community.

Thank you,
--Sohodojo-Jim--

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