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Sun, 2006-Jan-29

Launch of the Efficient Software Project Plan, and Call for Participation

Free Software is Efficient Software, but Efficient Software won't come into being overnight. The Efficient Software Initiative has hit another (small) milestone, in releasing its first project plan:

  1. Conceive of idea
  2. Promote idea via blogs and other viral media (we are here)
  3. Build a base of discussion between individuals to agree on the right models for putting money into open source, including solid discussions on whether it is necessary or even useful
  4. Build a base of three or more people across disciplines to begin developing concrete policy, business plans, and site mockups. Continue promoting and building awareness until at least one slashdot effect is noted.
  5. Use wider promotion to get feedback on initial discussions and established policies. Learn which parts are defensible and which are not. Adjust as required, and begin building a core implementation group. This group will have access to sufficient funds between them to make the business a reality, and will likely have strong overlap with earlier core team.
  6. Launch business based on developed plans

This plan is likely to require at least twelve months of concerted attention, and will likely strech over several years if successful. The ultimate goal is to build not only a business, but a business model that can be replicated into an industry. The goal is to fund open source development and directly demonstrate the cost differential to closed source software. If you have any comments or feedback on the plan, please let us know via the mailing list.

With it comes a call for participation on the project front page:

You can help us get off the ground!

Do you have a background in law?
Help us understand the Legal Implications of the Business
Do you have a background in business or accounting?
Help us understand the Profit Implications of the Business
Do you have a background in website design?
Help us develop possible website designs (this will help everyone stay grounded!)
Do you have a background in running large websites?
Help us understand how to set everything up
Do you have roots in open source communities?
Talk about Efficient Software! Get feedback! Bring people on board with us, and help us come on board with them

So, why should you get involved? Who am I, and why should you trust me to get a project like this off the ground? Well, I am not asking anyone to trust me at this stage. We are in the discussion stages only. The next stage is to develop a core group of people to push things forward. Perhaps that group will include you. If you really want to know about me, well... here I am:

I have lived in Brisbane, Queensland for most of my life now. I graduated from the University of Queensland with a computer science honours degree back in 1998. Since the time of my course I have been a involved in HUMBUG. My open source credentials are not strong. I have done a few bits here and there at the edges of various communities. I was involved with the sqlite community for a time and have a technical editor credit on the book of the same name. I have recently been involved with the microformats community, particularly with recent hAtom developments. I'm a RESTafarian. I have used debian linux as my sole desktop install for at least five years, and saw the a.out to ELF transition. I'm a gnome user and advocate. I'm something of a GPL biggot, or at least it is still my default license. I work in control systems, and have spent the last few years trying to "figure out" the web. I'm a protocols and bits and bytes kind of guy. I use the terms "open source" and "free software" interchangably. I'm afraid of license incompatability in the open source world leading to a freedom that is no larger than what we see in closed source software. I'm a father to be, with less than seven weeks to go until maybe I won't have much time to do anything anymore. I'm a full-time sofware developer who does a lot of work in C++. I work more hours at my job than I am contractually obliged to, so often don't have time for other things. I have a failed open source accounting package behind me, where I discovered for the first time that user interfaces are hard and boring and thankless things. That project came out of my involvement with gnucash, which I still think would be easier to replace than fix. I think python needs static checking because the most common bug in computer software is not the off-by-one error, but the simple typo. I haven't used ruby on rails because I think that any framework that requires I learn a whole new language needs a few years for the hype to cool down before it gets interesting. I render my blog statically using blosxom, partially because I didn't have the tools at hand for dynamic pages using my old hosting arrangements, but partially because I'm more comfortable authoring from behind my firewall and not allowing submissions from anywhere on the web. I used to be a late sleeper, but have taken the advice of Steve Pavlina and have now gotten up at 6am for the last six weeks straight. With all the extra time I still haven't mowed the lawn. I'm not perfect, and I certainly don't have all the skills required to create a new open source business model on my own. That is why I want this to be a community. I know how effective a community can be at reaching a common goal, and I think that the Efficient Software Initiative represents a goal that many can share.

So sign up for the mailing list. Get into some angry conversations about how open source doesn't need an income stream, or how selling maintenence is the perfect way to make money from open source software. I want to have the discussion about whether the kind of business Efficient Software is trying to build will create a new kind of free software market, or whether it just puts a middleman in the way of an already free market. Let's have the discussions and see where we end up. Efficient Software is something I can get excited about, and I hope it is something you'll be able to get a bit excited about, too.