Forum OpenACS Q&A: Response to OpenForce's commitment to the OpenACS free software community

This was my email to Ben asking him to reconsider:


I am extremely disappointed in your decision and hope that you will re-consider. dotLRN owes its success to your leadership and that of OpenForce. I know others would also agree with me that OpenForce participation is critical to dotLRN's future. By your serving as kernel Gatekeeper and also OpenForce having representation on TAB, you and OpenForce will have the most influence and power to shape dotLRN's future.

What problems are we trying to solve with the organizational structure? If dotLRN were entirely a technical platform, then dotLRN governance should be of developers, for developers, and by developers. But dotLRN is a vertical application and for that reason it's success will not simply depend upon developers. dotLRN did not get built nor will it evolve because of developer "itchiness". Developers didn't come along and say...."gee wouldn't it be nice if we had an e-learning platform." dotLRN got developed because people put money on the table.

The problem we are trying to solve is simply this. If dotLRN is to succeed we need the widest possible adoption and as quickly as possible. In my estimation, we have a small window for success, twelve to eighteen months at most. In order for dotLRN to succeed, we need wide adoption. In order to have wide adoption, we need:

  • transparency. this point has been made eloquently by Carl and I won't make it again. this comes up over and over again with everyone I talk to. as soon as one starts to talk about "organic" processes, the decision makers head for the door. it's as simple as that.
  • legitimacy. having the MIT and Univ. of Heidelberg brand helps.
  • sustainability/funding. dotLRN will not succeed if we expect developers to code and thereby scratch an "itch"; most developers could care less about an elearning platform; they do care about having bread on the table. for me the primary goal of the EB will be develop a business plan so that dotLRN development can be sustained and that there is adequate funding to do the things we all want to do.
If you can persuade me that your governance ideas can achieve transparency, legitimacy, and sustainability, I am all ears. I have no interest in making technical decisions; neither does Carl; and neither will others on the Executive Board. We all share the same goal. We want dotLRN to succeed. All I ask is that you give us the benefit of the doubt and reconsider your decision.