Open source announcements and new FLOSSBOK initiative

It’s been a while since open access and open source events have been as interesting as they are now. While the things are heating up around Elsevier publisher, including a petition being signed by academics to refuse to publish or do any editorial work for any Elsevier journal, on the other side there have been open source changes  announced at the FOSDEM conference in Belgium.

The recent Free and Open Source Software Developers’ European Meeting in Brussels, FOSDEM, included many presentations and announcements over the conference weekend as multiple open source projects came together to meet in person. There were also several keynote addresses.

One of them was the announcement by Simon Phipps, a director of the Open Source Initiative (OSI) ,  that the OSI is in the midst of a transformation to a member-based approach and that it “ .. now has the core of an Affiliate membership, with delegates … the Board has invited [from] an initial set of Affiliates to join and collectively devise the new OSI”.

Phipps also stated that the organisation will continue stewardship of the Open Source Definition and will now also embrace the other parts of its mission, such as: building bridges between parts of the community, fostering  greater collaboration on open source, provide a venue for that united community to speak with a unified voice when issues arise (e.g. the ACTA treaty), and promote the understanding of open source through shared academic and advocacy activities.

I would like to draw attention to the new OSI project that many researchers, scientists and academics can find interesting.

Among the three announcements Mr Phipps made was one which I found both interesting and important for the research, science and academic sector, called the FLOSSBOK initiative.  It is a new initiative that OSI is hosting to create a “a “Body of Knowledge” to support academic curriculum development.  I think it’s a great idea and I intend to support it personally.

The goal of this project according to OSI Board Member Professor TonyWasserman  is to outline the topics important for anyone studying FLOSS, and to work toward defining learning objectives for various classes related to FLOSS. They expressed the hope that people, who are involved in the development and delivery of  FLOSS educational material will contribute to the outline, which can then be used by others to create their own classes and curricula.

The concept of FLOSSBOK  is based on an a decade old project, known as SWEBOK (IEEE Computer Society), that was used to develop a body of knowledge for software engineering. As Professor Wasserman said ” with any other open source project, FLOSSBOK must develop its own community to thrive and to create useful content. While the effort can start with the Education Committee of the OSI and with the leaders of various FLOSS Competency Centers, long term success depends on attracting people to the project and getting them to contribute their knowledge and experience to it. Please let others know about FLOSSBOK so that we may build up a useful document that can help more people to become knowledgeable about free, libre, and open source software.”

You can get more information on educational FLOSS material from OSI Competence Center with emphasis on open course material with licenses such as Creative Commons. And if either the OSI reforms or FLOSSBOK interest you, please take a survey so OSI know what you would want personally from OSI membership.

Danica is an internet researcher, consultant and speaker on social media and digital inclusion. Her academic research is rooted in her own practical experiences breaking down digital walls in central European society. She is Tech, and Research editor for Australian Science. Read more of her work at her blog, and follow her on twitter @DanicaR.

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