If I'm known at all to anyone here, I'm known for the work on OpenOffice.org that others have done and that I helped to lead and promote, especially among international communities, and among those who, prior to OpenOffice.org, were usually left on the margins of open source works. Since I left Oracle, in 2011, to co-found the open source consultancy, Age of Peers, I've continued working with communities and companies engaging in open source. And I've also tried to work with HFOSS organisations, as well as those more abstractly dealing with IP law.

The centre of interest here is our claim to community and the commons, and this is nowadays enabled by the license we choose. But my interest and also my perseverance in this field is probably a character trait. My background, professional as well as educational and personal, has left me acutely aware of the logistics of community and of the narratives any community uses to define itself. Some of this I got through graduate school, at UC Berkeley. (My degree is in English.) But I was raised—like many community managers, I've learned—in several countries, in many cities, in my case, as a nomad. All of which left me not just slightly more than normally alienated but keenly aware of the social physics of community and identity.

I think that awareness helped me bypass obvious bottlenecks (like having hardly any staff and no funds) at OpenOffice.org and expand its community of contributors hugely over the first few years and then even faster. Yes, the code was good. And yes, I—no, we—had the impassioned and absolutely dedicated intelligence and support of people at Sun like Zaheda Bhorat and Stefan Taxhet. What I sought to do, and largely achieved, depended upon their and others' passion and competence. I broadened the scope of "developer" at first to include all who contributed, be it code or art or translations or even services. Later, clearer definitions were used more routinely. But the point as to establish areas where less-skilled coders, or even non-coders, could freely contribute and by so doing, earn political equity in the project. (That the project suffered from layers of irony and fundamental fracture having to do with Sun's role, despite the brilliant work of Simon Phipps to bring sanity into the works goes here without saying.) I also realised that though outside the US, open source had a far less encumbered field in which to grow, and that its nature, its emphases differed. There was, there is no single open source, no absolute way of collaborating, of making community.

But there is the desire, and it's strong, for local communities, however constituted, to use recognised licenses that are internationally recognised and understood. We can also see the impatient desire for working collaboratively in a range of areas and fields, not just in ICT, to address the problems we can't escape and which we know are going to get worse—and which we also know we can solve. 

Growing the OSI membership is essential to this (or any) ambition. I would want to work more closely with education services, but also with archives and libraries. I'd also want to initiate (or more accurately, foreground) a program to involve more of those open source efforts, companies, systems have, at best, ignored. 

I take this seriously. The issue of licenses that permit free collaboration and, for that matter, of license ignorance, is something that has affected me, and those I love, all my life, It is in part for this reason that I devote a fair amount of my energies toward HFOSS and toward projects that will ensure that those billions of children coming to school will not only have a school to come to but will be able to use tools that are not branded, costly, and links in that long chain to come.


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