I’m giving a lightning talk later this month at the flossmetrics event in Portland, Oregon. I wanted to interrogate metrics–a too-encompassing term–from the developer’s perspective and so ask, What metrics do developers find useful? I found this one Q/A on Stackoverflow relevant.
It also accords with my impression. In open source communities sponsored by corporations, in particular, the measure of community work, health, production and everything else, including the effectiveness of the managers, is subject to anxious measure. The anxiety may be more obvious with open source communities, as they still represent unorthodox ways of doing things–an unorthodoxy that has at its heart the seemingly transgressive notion of giving away (you know, “sharing”) intellectual property. You can see why measuring the value then of the investment can be so fraught. Determining if the community is actually doing anything, let alone anything of value and even more important, better than an orthodox team, is something that from management’s perspective needs to be answered quarterly, in order to justify the risk.
But what metrics actually mean anything? If we were talking about marketing communities, where brand loyalty is enhanced by consumers collaborating together on better ways to consume the product and tips on how to navigate the environment–eBay comes to mind–then I would measure social media activity within the domain, as well as in standard social media vehicles. I’d look too to see if the most regular posters in the chats were also regular buyers and sellers; whether they were “influence” leaders and had large followings (or if not large, whether their followers were heavy spenders, say: quality over quantity). I’d look too to see what I could do to encourage this social consuming (such as make searches that relate to individual posters easier), and routinely try things. And, I could draw graphs and maps of activity and connectedness, relate effectively microeconomic points to macroeconomic conditions. I might learn that the reason there was a spike associated with, say, Fred’s posts on motorbikes had to do with fuel rising in cost.
What I would learn from tracking these activities–these metrics–would help me organize and manage the consumer communities better. (And there are many other kinds of data one can obtain that would make the consumer a better buyer and user of the product and also help other consumers.)
But these sorts of measures don’t really work in the same way when we are looking at productive networks. The demands differ, as does the nature. Yes, there are overlaps, obvious ones. But if I am working in a team, on a difficult project, knowing that Fred is posting a lot and is influential (duh) probably won’t really help me work better–either write better code with others or be happier about the code written.
OSCON is usually interesting. This year it’s more interesting, especially for those of us involved in community issues. I’m delighted, too, to see that “community management (for open source)” is even being regarded–finally–as a legitimate profession. For when I started this, back in 2000, it wasn’t. And even now, “community management” is likelier to mean managing consumers via social networking tools (aka social media), not engaging commons-linked producers working collaboratively.
Of course, the other talks are also rather interesting, almost as much as the intersections in-between talks.
“The Italian city of Trieste is moving to the Apache OpenOffice suite, replacing a proprietary office suite, the city’s newspaper Il Piccolo reported on 7 May. The switch will save some 900,000 euro in proprietary software licences over the next three years.
It’s an interesting account, though I wonder if the error would even have been possible with Apache OpenOffice. The writer, however, does state that the user incurred the error using an old version of LibreOffice. FWIW, I’ve never encountered this sort of error (or any, actually) using Apache OpenOffice -> .docx (or .doc or many other formats) in all my years of using AOO (and before then, OOo; LibreOffice takes off from an earlier quasi-fork of OOo). More likely, as I generally use AOO, whatever errors there be are silently dealt with by the application. Evidently, that’s too much for MSFT’s own version of an office suite.
I rather like this: “Adapteva is the sponsor of the Parallella project and the designer of the Parallella board. The Parallella project is a community of users and developers dedicated to the promotion and progress of parallel processing in the industry. The Parallella board is an open platform available to participants to explore, prototype and contribute to an open source library of expertise, information and code samples for the benefit of the community. The community of thousands of people is a professional community of experienced participants worldwide.”
The work being done by iilab.org is impressive and ranges wide. They just came out with a “panic button” that was sponsored by Amnesty International and which is meant to be used by those facing imminent arrest or occlusion to alert supporters, family, and others who often have no clue what has happened.
But the open collaboration project here is of particular interest to me–as are the really interesting links to the various “Open ….” endeavours. Thus:
In the world of Open practices
Yves’ article and observations here are interesting. They reflect the effect of changes in how we (or people like me) read many sites. I use Feedly. It aggregates RSS feeds and I can read these on any number of devices. As a consequence, I don’t actually visit sites like naked capitalism or any of the others I am subscribed to very often. And I didn’t really think about the consequences of my ceasing to visit them.
But advertisers do track these things and so do site owners, who deal with advertisers and set prices. The effects then of subscriptions is unclear, as it seems to deprecate the actual value of the site. A strategy that NC is now contemplating is truncating what is actually delivered via RSS, forcing the reader who wants more to go to the site. I can live with that.
I also suspect that in the next few years if not sooner more subscriptions will bloom. Ads are finicky things; subscriptions, which pretty much date back to the 19th century (and is how books were initially sold, at least in the US), are less so. So, in this model, I’d not only pay for my Feedly account, which provides useful tools for content aggregation, search, etc., but also to the various sites I subscribe to. However, the fee would have to be small and I would guess also set so that it could be itself packaged with other, related sites and services.
No doubt, many have already read this. It’s disturbingly accurate.
This is a fairly smart essay on Apple. It accords with what I and, I am sure, others have held: That Apple’s genius lay as much, if not more, in effectively controlling a section of the industry, from software to hardware:
Apple suffered when they could not operate at large scale. When you go your own way, you need a critical mass to maintain momentum, to stay ahead of the commodity horde. To pick just one example: CPUs. Prior to the Mac’s switch to Intel processors in 2006, Macs were generally more expensive and slower than the Windows PCs they were competing against. There weren’t enough Macs being sold to keep Motorola or IBM interested in keeping the PowerPC competitive, and Apple didn’t have the means to do it itself. Compare that to today, where Apple can design its own custom SoC CPUs — which performbetter than the commodity chips used by their competitors. That’s because Apple sells hundreds of millions of iOS devices per year. Apple’s commitment to making its own hardware provided necessary distinction while the company was relatively small. Now that the company is huge, it still provides them with distinction, but now also an enormous competitive edge that cannot be copied. You can copy Apple’s strategy, but you can’t copy their scale.