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News for nerds, stuff that matters

Do Alternative Software Licenses Represent Open Source's 'Midlife Crisis'?
by EditorDavid
15 Dec 2018 at 5:34pm
"it is clear to me that open source -- now several decades old and fully adult -- is going through its own midlife crisis," writes Joyent CTO Bryan Cantrill. [O]pen source business models are really tough, selling software-as-a-service is one of the most natural of them, the cloud service providers are really good at it -- and their commercial appetites seem boundless. And, like a new cherry red two-seater sports car next to a minivan in a suburban driveway, some open source companies are dealing with this crisis exceptionally poorly: they are trying to restrict the way that their open source software can be used. These companies want it both ways: they want the advantages of open source -- the community, the positivity, the energy, the adoption, the downloads -- but they also want to enjoy the fruits of proprietary software companies in software lock-in and its concomitant monopolistic rents. If this were entirely transparent (that is, if some bits were merely being made explicitly proprietary), it would be fine: we could accept these companies as essentially proprietary software companies, albeit with an open source loss-leader. But instead, these companies are trying to license their way into this self-contradictory world: continuing to claim to be entirely open source, but perverting the license under which portions of that source are available. Most gallingly, they are doing this by hijacking open source nomenclature. Of these, the laughably named commons clause is the worst offender (it is plainly designed to be confused with the purely virtuous creative commons), but others...are little better... "[T]heir business model isn't their community's problem, and they should please stop trying to make it one," Cantrill writes, adding letter that "As we collectively internalize that open source is not a business model on its own, we will likely see fewer VC-funded open source companies (though I'm honestly not sure that that's a bad thing)..." He also points out that "Even though the VC that led the last round wants to puke into a trashcan whenever they hear it, business models like 'support', 'services' and 'training' are entirely viable!" Jay Kreps, Co-founder of @confluentinc, has posted a rebuttal on Medium. "How do you describe a license that lets you run, modify, fork, and redistribute the code and do virtually anything other than offer a competing SaaS offering of the product? I think Bryan's sentiment may be that it should be called the Evil Proprietary Corruption of Open Source License or something like that, but, well, we disagree."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


Study Suggests Too Much Collaboration Actually Hurts Productivity
by EditorDavid
15 Dec 2018 at 4:34pm
An anonymous reader quotes Inc: Our attention in the workplace is a precious resource that often falls victim to tools like email, Slack, and so on, which bring a nonstop supply of things to read, things to respond to, things to file, things to loop others in on, things to follow up on, and in general, things to do. This "always on" dynamic has roots in a desire for increased workplace collaboration and productivity, but as is so often the case, it turns out there is a balance to be struck for optimal results. New research shows that groups who collaborate less often may be better at problem solving.... In a study titled "How Intermittent Breaks in Interaction Improve Collective Intelligence", the authors use a standardized problem-solving test to measure the contrast between time spent in collaboration mode against the quality and quantity of problem solving results. The group with no interaction predictably had the highest options for solutions, but those solutions were of lower overall quality. The group with high interaction had higher quality solutions, but less variety and a lower likelihood to find the optimal solution. The intermittent collaboration groups found the desirable middle ground to balance out the pros/cons of the no interaction and high interaction groups, leading them to become the most successful problem solvers. The article warns of a "collaboration drain", suggesting managers pay closer attention to when collaboration is (and isn't) necessary. "Once upon a time in the land of business, people primarily communicated through conversations, meetings, and internally circulated printed memos. In the absence of email, Internet, cell phones, and CRMs there was a repeating cadence of connection, then disconnection, even while in the office." "In this case, 'disconnected' really amounts to uninterrupted -- and able to focus."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



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