GNOME Foundation: Open Source Collaboration at Work!

Sugar Labs – the no-profit foundation behind the sugar educational software platform running on the OLPC – joined the GNOME Foundation as part of the GNOME Advisory Board.

The GNOME Foundation after welcoming on board the Mozilla Foundation, and more recently Motorola and Google, keeps bringing on board third parties.

Reading the press release it looks like if the GNOME Foundation wants to explore the economics of technological clubs.

GNOME is actively cooperating with the makers of these platforms in order to make sure that they can use GNOME technologies as efficiently and effectively as possible and to enable cross-fertilization of resources. Members of the GNOME Advisory Board help the GNOME Foundation work with partner companies effectively and they also get a chance to collaborate with each other on their use of GNOME technologies. (emphasis is mine)

Stormy Peters, appointed Executive Director last July, confirmed my opinion through a google chat.

When I talked to all the Advisory Board members when I first started, it surprised me how many of them said they appreciated the space to talk confidentially to their potential competitors.

GNOME reaches a lot of users – millions for them. 14 million by one count. But none of them directly. They all have plans for GNOME, have things they add and have things they want to see in the future and things they’ve worked on that they’d like to add upstream. Having a place where they can discuss their plans together, so that they can best cooperate as companies and individual contributors in the project, leads to more cooperation and more innovative work upstream.

The Foundation likely has no plans to run direct marketing campaigns to tell GNOME’s stakeholders about the advantage of shared R&D, but it is already enabling coopetition now in some areas (e.g. GNOME Mobile).

The Collaborative Software Initiative or similar organizations have to build trust from scratch, on the contrary the GNOME Foundation is greatly valued by open source crowds, and not only. Still the GNOME Foundation has to prove to its present and future sponsors that the benefits of cooperation outweigh the costs, just like every technological club.

Community-led open source projects are transparent and accessible, but letting sponsors enter the game directly requires to pay attention to make efficient and effective open source collaboration markets.

Sponsoring the GNOME Foundation seems the easiest way to get into the club, but I would suggest interested parties to read also the GNOME Foundation membership guidelines. All in all the best way to (positively) influence a community founded project is still the same: engage, engage, engage!