Forum .LRN Q&A: Response to continuation of dotLRN Governance

Posted by Carl Robert Blesius on


Thank you for your contributions to this discussion.

We in Heidelberg felt we had to go to Boston earlier this year because there were too many unknowns. dotLRN governance was only one point of many on my list discussed on an afternoon filled with meetings (where we met with Ben as well). What we briefly talked about that day was a start (I wish Al could have been present on that day). What was clear to me is that certain things had been neglected, because of slipping deadlines. Transparency was another very important point on my list (and in my opinion we would not been at this point right now if both OF and Sloan had put a little more effort in this department). There is still a lot of work to be done on BOTH of these points. I think everyone realizes there might be problems in the technicalities of the present governance document... and we take Ben's and the communities fears and comments very seriously. Another thing should also be clear though... we are dealing with a gray area here because dotLRN as it now stands is not the result of a volunteer effort (although it is clear how important volunteer work is) and OF is not a contributing individual but a company that was hired with dotLRN in mind.

Like MIT vendor independence is very important for us and like Ben I think us making a "huge issue" out of OF turning down participation is a red flag that we must carefully evaluate.

There are still a lot of unknowns... but all documents up to now are in the public sphere and almost all of the discussion has been pulled into the open now (for better or worse) and there is a lot to digest for everyone right now. I totally agree with Al... governance or no governance there is work to be done and transparency is something that we are going to push ASAP.

Arjun (and others at OpenForce),

I realize that OpenForce is much more than just Ben and I am sorry that we haven't had a chance to speak more with you all on this. Thank you for making it clear that Ben has acted as spokesperson. It makes sense to me that you put a lot of thought into this decision as a company (I am sure it was difficult). I also realize that you all have helped make what dotLRN is (for _us_ all) beyond what SloanSpace is. It is WELL known that you (OF) are respected for being VERY good architects and I think Al made a good choice in selecting you all to lay out the dotLRN framework (independent of any deadlines).


I respect your strong will and adherence to your principles. My original intention was not to attack or alienate, please accept my public apologies if it came over like that. I have put a lot of time into trying to understand what OF is trying to achieve/communicate. I think you have made it very clear that you are very strongly dedicated to an open-source cause. If you do not feel you can take part in the governance of dotLRN because it doesn't fit into your view of what open-source is, I can respect that. I was not attempting to alienate you (that would be even more detrimental to dotLRN than your choice not to take part in the governance).

I have seen an honest and pure attempt from MIT/Sloan to promote a mix that leaves room for a much wider dotLRN community representation, without compromising the technical direction (another one of our core disagreements that I do not want to reopen). Once again I can respect the fact that you do not agree and I think you have made it clear that your decisions are based on an honest dedication to the OpenForce cause.

I was not expecting you to compromise your principles Ben, but it was a surprise how you have chosen to protest. There are a lot more shades of grey in your very black and white idealistic picture (we have also talked about this at length).

There are a couple of reasons I think dotLRN has solid footing and one of the main reasons is because dotLRN is clearly a subset of OpenACS (a very organic open source project that permeates upward into dotLRN and makes it what it is, adding its own flavor of open-source stability). Another thing that is important are the ideas and energy that have and will continue to flow into dotLRN from in and around MIT (MIT has a history of disruptive ideas with practical results). Due to the dismal E-Learning landscape where a monopolistic situation is slowly taking shape dotLRN is poised to make a big splash and I strongly believe that dotLRN will quickly gain ground in Europe (in addition to the states) and I am looking forward to watching this happen.


P.S. I am going to be dropping out of this discussion for a bit and I also totally understand if Al does not respond much on this for a while either.