Advancing the Research Agenda on Free/Open Source Software
October 14, 2002
Open source software is one of the unique phenomena of the digital economy. Enabled by the Internet, it has grown dramatically over the past decade. It includes a major operating system (Linux), the dominant web server software (Apache), and thousands of individual projects. It has been embraced by large computer companies and has been hailed a paradigm shift in software development.
These successes, the unusual nature of open source development, and the benefits claimed for open source software - security, reliability, adaptability, as well as economy and openness - create opportunities for complementary businesses and pose important policy questions. While there is still little published research on the open source phenomenon, there is a large amount of work in progress. Open source has already inspired far-ranging speculation and debate about institutional economics, information architectures, intangible assets, innovation processes, standards, ethics, contracts, and intellectual property policy. At the same time, there are divergent views and practices within the open source movement reflected in differences in license, motivation, and business orientation.
The International Institute of Infonomics at the University of Maastricht and the Center for Information Policy at the University of Maryland are organizing a one-day workshop at the offices of the Directorate General for the Information Society in Brussels. This workshop, to be held on October 14, 2002, follows a workshop held January 28 at the National Science Foundation in Arlington, Virginia. The workshops explore the issues raised by open source development, its relationship to other forms of enterprise and community, and the implications for institutions and public policies in a digital society. They are intended to help develop a vigorous global research community around open source with connections to the open source development community and industry. They seek to enhance the visibility of open source studies within the social sciences and professional disciplines and to help policy makers better understand the enterprise-transforming nature of the Internet and the special characteristics of Internet-enabled innovation.
20-25 invited participants will submit their views on research priorities in advance; these statements will be used to structure the substantive discussion and will be made available on the Web. The workshop will be open to observers. It will result in a summary report outlining research options and priorities based on the submissions and discussion.
Support for the workshop is provided by the FLOSS project, funded by the European Commission's Information Society Technologies Programme and an NSF grant from the Program on Societal Dimensions of Engineering, Science, and Technology and the Program on Digital Society and Technologies. For further information contact Rishab Ghosh (International Institute of Infonomics) at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Brian Kahin at email@example.com.
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