Eclipse Ecosystem

A blog devoted to promoting the Eclipse ecosystem

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Open Source Community Development

Just to give an example of some of the terminology confusing the open source community, I've noticed more and more that people talk of open source as more than just a "software thing". This Wired article from 2003 nails the idea - the ideals of open source are appearing everywhere from biotechnology to supply chain management to organizing little-league tournaments.

So what are the ideals in question? Well, Ian summized it for me the other day in a single word - community. It's all about the community, and fostering the community is what an ecosystem is all about.

The challenge though, is that in a traditional commercial enterprise building a community is usually punted to a marketing department and staffed with marketing weenies. Marketing weenies, as they are, often get too distracted with terms like "lead generation" and "customer conversions" and therefore loose sight of the community ideals. Moreover, some community-building activities look strangely like traditional Business Development activities, which can lead to the odd political run-in.

I wonder if this is why many open source projects like Eclipse have been so successful at building a community. Without a traditional marketing or business development department involved, members focus on the community in a more genuine way.

I think is also explains why I struggle explaining to people what the heck it is I'm going to be doing here at Eclipse. Ecosystem development is not really traditional marketing, it's not really traditional business development, and it's not really evangelism. Yet, tell someone your role is to develop and promote a "community" and you'll get an even more confused look.

- Don


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