Saturday, October 22, 2005

I came to Amsterdam yesterday to attend a summit meeting of open source foundations. It was fascinating for me, as I realize this is yet another vibrant and growing community of social enterprises.

There seem to be dozens of these groups, each built around one or more open source software project. Common threads included:
- Volunteers contributing to the creation of the software, generally organized around a meritocracy
- Corporate support in the form of explicit sponsorships and/or paying corporate employees to work on the projects
- Nonprofit status, reflecting the social nature of the community
- Financial tensions, as the foundations themselves grapple with earned income and sustainability while interacting with corporate sponsors
- And, of course, free or open source licenses to the software being created

The majority of groups at the summit were from Europe or were international groups with significant European leadership. Yet, the social enterprise issues were similar to the ones I know from the U.S. And, the desire for peer learning was strong. Everyone was eager to swap notes and experiences, since the challenges we all face are quite similar.

After the summit, I attended the BarCampAmsterdam Bar Camp being held here. Bar camps seem to be a new phenomenon, modeled after the FOO camps organized by Tim O'Reilly. It's mainly techies showing off different cool things they are working on. One cool thing I saw was called plazes, which is a location-aware system.

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