In my last two posts, I discussed the evolution of open source knowledge: where we came from, where are we now, and how did we get here. I provided some examples of common misunderstandings and knowledge gaps and suggested that such gaps may be due to the need to take action without taking as much time to prepare and plan as is optimal. The sum total is that misconceptions and misunderstandings about open source persist both within and outside the software industry.
In my last post, I discussed where we came from and where we are now in regards to knowledge and understanding of open source software and licenses. I talked about how, not too long ago, there seemed to be a fair amount of denial when it came to the use of open source software in the enterprise. Today, open source software has garnered enough attention that the term "open source" is found far outside the software world. Yet, misconceptions and misunderstandings prevail. Why? How did we get here? And how do we get to the point where there is accurate and consistent knowledge around FOSS? More specifically, how do we get to a point where FOSS use in the enterprise incorporates a thorough and appropriate understanding that backs a FOSS policy that is tailored to the realities and practicalities of that particular business?
At the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit in San Francisco in mid-April, I gave a talk titled, "FOSS Knowledge: A little does NOT always go a long way." The title was supposed to be a bit eye-catching; the subject-matter, hopefully thought-provoking. I've attended my share of open source software-related events and often the topics covered in the legal or business tracks relate to trends, information, tools, and best practices for the use of open source software, particularly in regards to license compliance - basically what one needs to do. But I'm finding that it is ever-more critical to look at knowledge: the understanding, awareness, and education around open source software and licenses.
It's hard to imagine anything cooler than being an open source attorney who gets to attend tech conferences and rub elbows with geek extraordinaires. But I must say that walking through the airport holding my customized Linux skateboard did make me feel pretty groovy. The skateboard was a gift for speakers at LinuxCon North America in San Diego where I presented on open source compliance issues in apps and app stores, as well as sitting on a panel for SPDX.
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