Forum .LRN Q&A: Response to dotLRN on .NET

Posted by Michael Feldstein on
Torben, I think you may be misunderstanding the current circumstances. First of all, Al has made it clear that there is no deal with Microsoft at the moment. All there is right now is conversationl. Second, I believe his reference to resignation was somewhat tongue-in-cheek. The point was that he is taking a strong stand on principle. Third, to the degree that there is conversation with Microsoft, it is regarding a *grant* which is funneled through an MIT institution. While it is always prudent to be cautious with Microsoft, this is quite different from any historic business partnerships to which you might point. Fourth, it is not true the community is not being provided with full disclosure of the working relationship. Right now there is no working relationship. Al has said he is willing to share any terms being offered with interested community members in a forum that is not open to everyone on the Internet, i.e., he has offered to share information with the community in a forum that will ensure it cannot be casually browsed by people outside the community. And finally, since we don't yet know the terms that are under discussion, we can't know if the the money from the grant will "redirect" resources, provide additional funding for work that the community already wants, or some combination of the two. Now, deal with iCampus were to convert dotLRN to .NET, then the issue of dividing resources would be very real and of great concern. However, both Al and Carl have rejected that possibility in their posts above.

Your concertns are entirely understandable. However, it's important for everybody to be clear on just where we are. There is no deal with Microsoft. Money is being offered by iCampus, an MIT project that is funded by Microsoft. Al and Carl are evaluating the offer with a skeptical eye. They have made their criteria for acceptance of any grant money very clear in their posts above. They have also made it clear that they are perfectly willing to reject the money if there are unacceptable strings attached. Al has invited all interested community members into a semi-private discussion of the terms of the potential arrangement and, presumably, whether and how the money can be accepted without compromising the goals and values of the community.

For such an important topic, it is critical that we all understand exactly where the situation is right now. Philip G's post regarding the situation was false (though I'm sure there were no ill intentions on his part). The rumor he inadvertantly started was based on just enough truth to get people understandably upset. We need to be especially careful not to add to the misunderstanding.