2006 was a pivotal year for Open Source. 2007 should be a banner year.
In 2006, the OSI’s agenda was focused on the problem of license proliferation (defining it, addressing it, and solving it), the harmonization of the definitions of open standards and open source software, and the launch of the new, version 3.0 website, which now serves this content. Of course the OSI also managed the day-to-day business of discussing and approving licenses, fund raising, answering frequently asked questions, and acting as faithful stewards of the Open Source Definition.
With approximately 60 licenses approved by the OSI since 1998, many open source stakeholders agreed that while choice was a Good Thing, too much choice was Too Much of a Good Thing. The License Proliferation Committee brought together a wide variety of stakeholders (license authors and license users, software developers and corporate attorneys) to discuss and recommend how to best remain inclusive and innovative while diminishing the risk of the open source community fragmenting into too many separate, incompatible licensing factions. Their discussions and recommendations resulting in a categorization that has helped simplify the understanding of the many open source licenses that exist, the development of software tools to help licensors choose appropriate licenses, and has precipitated the voluntary retirement of several licenses.
As Federal, State, and Local governments (as well as IT governance boards of private sector companies) increasingly seek to avoid proprietary lock-in and preserve free-market competition, these bodies are turning to Open Standards as their preferred protective mechanism. While we believe that Open Source is an answer to the problem of proprietary lock-in, we do not presume it to be the only possible answer, and thus do not advocate to these bodies “you must only consider open source in your procurement process”. However, given that the term Open Standards has been undefined, or defined so loosely that one could both claim to implement an Open Standard and, at the same time, effectively forbid an Open Source implementation of such a standard, we felt it necessary to address that problem. The Open Source Requirements for Open Standards ensures that whatever else the standard requires, it does not forbid an Open Source implementation.
Finally, as the OSI seeks to engage more members of the community in playing the role of defining and defending the community’s values, we have moved our website to a collaborative content management system (based on Drupal). This will make it easier for all Board members to blog their ideas, for the Secretary to post minutes of our board meetings, and for community members to have a more active voice in our discussions and deliberations. Events at the end of 2006 made it loud and clear that the community takes its rules and standards seriously, and that letter-of-the-law interpretations designed to undermine spirit-of-the-law covenants are a certain way to rally support from all ranks and files.
As we look to 2007, we are optimistic that our community will grow in number, influence, and success. For your support and energies to this end…thank you!