FutureWeb open source panel discusses its evolution, growth, governance

30 04 2010

"The Future: Harnessing the Power of Open Source." From left to right: Chris DiBona, Brian Bouterse, Paul Jones. Photo by Elon University Relations photographer Kim Walker. Creative Commons rights.

With Linux creator Red Hat just down the street from the Raleigh Convention Center, open source has been a huge part of the Web’s development, and the Future of Open Source Panel reiterated that fact.

Chaired by Red Hat Executive Vice President for Corporate Affairs Tom Rabon, the panel included three men with from diverse business and technology backgrounds:

Brian Bouterse – Research Associate, Secure Open Systems Initiative with NC State University and Networking and Systems Specialist, The Friday Institute

Chris DiBona – Open Source and Public Programs Manager, Google

Paul Jones – Director, ibilio.org

To show how far they’ve come, the panelists spoke about their first experiences with the Internet. Bouterse, the youngest of the panelists, first used the Internet as a 10-year-old and became fascinated by the “button with the little world” that took him outside of the AOL realm. DiBona first experienced the Internet through a Compuserve game and remembers arguing with a sevice provider for a faster connection.

Jones has a unique story in which he had Tim Berners-Lee demonstrate his protocol from his rejected paper when he visited Jones at the University of North Carolina.

“Had a couple of beers and then we installed it and it almost worked,” he said. “Then we had a couple of more beers and it did work.”

The panelists also spoke about the start of their involvement in open source. DiBona said he became involved with Linux in college and that “it’s really nice being able to control your own destiny.” Similarly, Bouterse said the availability of the Red Hat Linux tools gave him the access and ability to become interested.

On the other hand, Jones said he was given Unix by AT&T years ago, and then it was taken away. AT&T then issued a statement restricting any programmer who had seen Unix from working on other operating systems because they had been “mentally contaminated.” This restriction, of course, did not last very long.

The panelists then evaluated the state of open source in its growth and development. DiBona said he’d put it “at the knee,” and Bouterse said it was somewhere in between a toddler and a teenager. Jones said the base ideas were good, but not enough projects “fork” and take a creative turn.

Jones said strong intellectual property laws will continue to help the growth of open source because it will encourage people to create their own code rather than stealing from someone else. He compared open source to American literature in the country’s early days; publishers preferred to print British literature because it was not copyrighted or the copyright was not enforceable.

The panelists had differing views about the government’s role in open source. Bouterse said open source is the correct mechanism for transparency, while Jones emphasized the roles of procurement, bondable stock and availability, and drawing on subsidized intellectual endeavors.

When asked how the public could help sustain and grow open source, Bouterse advised people to get involved in any way they can. If they cannot create content, they can become users. If they do not become users, Bouterse advises them to “take a moment and recognize when you are benefiting from open source.”

Jones takes it one step futher, asking the public to honor content creators by attributing their work to encourage them to keep contributing.

“I wouldn’t want to live in a world without open source,” Bouterse said.

-by Rachel Cieri

Video and more written FutureWeb coverage:
FutureWeb YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Futureweb2010#p/u
Flickr photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/38539612@N02/sets/72157623891937652/


Sir Tim Berners-Lee: Open government and the World Wide Web

28 04 2010

The second WWW keynote session began at 11 a.m. with Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, sitting down to a keynote plenary panel discussion on issues surrounding open government and the World Wide Web today.

WWW 2010 - Panel. Left to right, on stage: Tim Berners-Lee, Andrew McLaughlin, Nigel Shadbolt, David Ferriero and Paul Jones. Mediated by James Hendler. Introduction by Michael Rappa followed by N.C. Lt. Governor Walter Dalton. April 28, 2010. Photo by Elon University Relations photographer Kim Walker. Creative Commons rights.

The panel was moderated by James Hendler, a pioneer of the semantic Web from RPI. Panelists included Andrew McLaughlin, deputy CTO for the US Executive Office of the President; Nigel Shadbolt, director of the Web Science Trust and Web Foundation; Paul Jones, UNC professor and director of ibiblio.org; and David Ferriero, archivist of the United States.

Each panelist had an opportunity to answer a question, before opening it up to discussion to the audience.

Berners-Lee first addressed the overlying question of why society should push for access to government data on the Web.

“It is a resource that has huge value,” Berners-Lee said. “It turns out the data is much more powerful when matched up with something else online. The real benefit of the Web is the serendipity. You find that people will use the information for all kinds of other things.”

He says that open government on the Web also implies greater transparency, allowing the way the country operates to become very apparent and enables people to hold the government accountable. Berners-Lee says this can lead to stronger checks and balances and opens the government to the constructive criticism of the people.

“What keeps me up at night is more having to do with the culture of the government than anything else,” Ferriero said.  “For me, it’s a social problem. It is a bottom-up initiative (to encourage agencies to undertake more transparent practices.) Governments need to be transparent, collaborative and participatory.”

McLaughlin says one way society can encourage agencies to assume more transparent practices is by showing how open data sources can actually improve business practices.

“Open data actually helps you do your job better,” McLaughlin said. “We need to persuade companies that they can look better and operate more effectively by freeing the data.”

Jones spoke about some local initiatives, including the North Carolina Sunshine Foundation. The organization has developed a reputation as a strong advocate for open access to government information.  Citizen participation is crucial to the continued push for open government on the Web, he said.

“We’re trying to pull off a revolution as to how governments relate to data…there’s going to be some turbulence,” McLaughlin said.

As citizens continue to push back through the “turbulence” in the fight for open government on the Web, Shadbolt raised a rhetorical question that struck the core of the issue:

“How are you going to make sense of the data around you if you can’t find it?” Shadbolt asked. “We’ve got a long ways to go… but the assumption is we can move there.”

-By Ashley Dischinger

Video and more written FutureWeb coverage:
FutureWeb YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Futureweb2010#p/u
Flickr photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/38539612@N02/sets/72157623891937652/

The Future of Media and the Web

13 04 2010

FutureWeb 2010 Conference, Raleigh, N.C., April 29, 3:30 – 5 p.m.

Paul Jones, director of ibiblio.org, will be the chair of The Future of Media and the Web panel at the FutureWeb conference in Raleigh, N.C.

Chair: Paul Jones, founder and director of ibiblio.org, a site that is home to one of the largest collections of freely available information, including software, music, literature, art, history, science, politics and cultural studies.

Panel description: Newspapers cut staff to the bone as advertising and circulation declines, radio centralized and nearly collapsed, television’s move to HD moved even stragglers to cable. There is plenty of news on the Web – for now – but as we see the world of news changing at this very moment, we ask: Who will be the reporters? Who will we pay and how will we pay them? What will they tell us? And how will we use or view that news? Data visualization, datamining, storytelling, crowdsourcing and citizen journalism offer some directions and models but none of those are yet stable and trusted. One journalism school announced that all of its students must learn Flash, another touts social network studies, another is teaching programming to reporters, a news organization issues video cameras to former print journalists. What are the most sustainable futures? The panel will aim to specifically isolate the key challenges and opportunities in the looming future for the media and the Web and it will work to identify some specific action steps that can be taken today to work for a better tomorrow.


  • Penny Muse Abernathy

    Penny Muse Abernathy, Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics at the University of North Carolina. She is a former New York Times and Wall Street Journal executive and writer, with more than 30 years experience as a reporter, editor and media executive. She currently serves on the advisory boards for UNC-Chapel Hill and Columbia University and was inducted into the N.C. Journalism Hall of Fame in 1998.

Click here to watch Abernathy speak about the future of newspapers on FOXBusiness

  • Michael Clemente

    Michael Clemente, senior vice president of news for FOX News and former senior executive producer of the ABC Digital Media Group (2006-09), where he served as the executive producer of ABCNews.com and ABC News Now. During his 27 years at ABC News, he also held the positions of senior broadcast producer for 20/20, and executive news producer of ABC’s breaking news specials. Prior to working at ABC, Clemente spent two years at CNN, where he oversaw all live and breaking news coverage out of Washington and helped boost the popularity of signature talk shows such as Crossfire, Reliable Sources and Inside Politics.

  • Dan Conover

    Dan Conover has spent 20 years in the daily news business, with experience as a reporter, editor, videographer, blogger and Web administrator. He has won numerous journalism awards, including South Carolina’s Journalist of the Year in 2005 and multiple North Carolina Press Association awards for investigative reporting. Since 2008 he has taken up writing and speaking about media futurism, and is a semantic technology consultant with Chicago-based e-Me Ventures. He blogs at Xark, tweets as @xarker and a collection of his writing on media futures can be found at http://www.danconover.com/ideas/new-media.

  • Doc Searls

    Doc Searls, Berkman Center Fellow at Harvard and senior editor for the Linux Journal. Searls is a journalist with experience in print, radio and Internet. He also has professional experience in marketing, PR and advertising. Searls was selected as one of the 100 Most Influential People in IT by eWeek and is an open source guy and co-author of “The Cluetrian Manifesto,” a Web site that was adapted into a best-selling book in 2000.

  • Sam Matheny

    Sam Matheny, general manager for News Over Wireless. Matheny focuses on strategic media applications, where he is engaged with mobile wireless content delivery. News Over Wireless works with more than 150 local
    broadcasters and wireless phone carriers, including AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, to provide news and information on mobile phones. He is active in the Academy of Digital Television Pioneers, the Advanced Television Systems Committee, Mobile Marketing Association, the Open Mobile Video Coalition, and he was a 2007 American Marshall Memorial Fellow.

For more information about FutureWeb 2010 panel discussions, featured panelists and more, click here to navigate to the FutureWeb site. To register for the conference, visit the FutureWeb registration page.