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Open Source Summit

June 25 and 26, 2013


Image: Open Source Image

This year's Open Source Summit explained how to build, engage with, and maintain open source communities -- not only with software, but hardware and data as well.

This was not your average event! The multi-agency planning team was tasked with ensuring that the event provided substantive benefit to federal agency personnel, and the format was uniquely designed to deliver not just abstract content from subject matter experts attending, but also gave participants the opportunity to see this knowledge applied to a specific case study, and then to learn how to apply it to a specific situation.

In addition, have collated the results of the discussions during the event and have made them available afterwards so that others may learn from the shared experiences and wisdom of their peers.

Day One

  • 8:00am - Registration Opens with Breakfast
  • 8:30am - Opening Plenary

Open Source Communities
How they work. How to engage with them. How to manage them.

  • 9:00am - Why do people join them? Motivations for engaging in open source communities.
    • Pierros Papadeas, Community Manager, Mozilla Corporation
  • 9:10am - Governance Models and how to set them up.
    • Jim Jagielski, President/Director/Co-Founder/Member, The Apache Software Foundation
  • 9:20am - Federal Legal and Policy issues that impinge on community engagement.
    • Vicki E. Allums, Associate General Counsel for Intellectual Property, Defense Information Systems Agency, Department of Defense
  • 9:30am - Engaging America: The Open-Source Opportunity at the Census Bureau
    • Alec Permison, Applications Manager,
      • The Census Bureau is exploring open source communities as an avenue to increase developer engagement with our vast and growing public data platform. In support of this initiative we recently conducted two internal events leading up to the National Day of Civic Hacking. The first event was a "Vizathon" wherein employees submitted ideas for a data visualization and voted on a winner. That winner was then brought to the "Codeathon," our second internal event wherein developers inside the bureau built the application using Agile methods in a single intense day of collaboration in our technology lab. Our challenge now is to take the app we developed and build a community of developers who can take it, and our data, in new and unforeseen directions. Specific challenges include:
        • Deciding where and how we should host the code to maximize adoption.
        • Finding the most prudent approach to opening up of the code with regard to legal, security, political and contractual concerns.
        • Getting developers jazzed about our project and vast data sets. Some of the ideas buzzing around include using challenges (e.g.,, topcoder, etc.) and our developer portal (e.g., newsletters, best practices)
        • Ensuring the sustainability of the community (keep the energy up / encourage cohesion / collaboration).
  • 10:30am - Participant Problem Solving Session One
  • 11:30am - Participant Problem Solving Session Two
  • 12:30pm - Report Out
  • 1:00pm - Lunch

Converting Closed Communities to Open
If you have a pre-existing development community and you are open sourcing the project, how do you manage this complexity?

  • 2:00pm - Open Source Licensing - and transitioning to one.
    • Ben Balter, Government Bureaucrat, GitHub
  • 2:10pm - How to move a closed development community to open.
    • Mike Pulsifer, Lead IT Specialist, Department of Labor
  • 2:20pm - How to grow users into active community members and get your community more engaged.
    • Joseph Porcelli, Director, GovDelivery & GovLoop Engagement Services
  • 2:30pm - How do We Shift from Government-Led to Community-Led Software Development to Support Cancer Research?
    • Juli Klemm, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health
      • The National Cancer Informatics Program of the National Cancer Institute is committed to advancing cancer research through improving biomedical informatics, and we believe that active participation by the broad community is the most effective way to accomplish this. To this end, we are in the process of migrating the source code for approximately 50 of our cancer research software tools to the public instance of GitHub, as well as changing from our current custom open source license to the OSI-approved BSD 3-Clause license. We hope that both of these actions will lower some key barriers to entry for the community. We recognize, however, that shifting from a software release cycle that has traditionally been managed by the government through government contractors to a community-led process will involve significant cultural changes as well. Through these discussions, we hope to identify opportunities to enable these cultural shifts and transition from a closed community to one that is inherently open and collaborative.
  • 3:30pm - Participant's Problem Solving Session One
  • 4:30pm - Participant's Problem Solving Session Two
  • 5:30pm - Report Out and Closing
  • 6:00pm - Head to the local reception!

Day Two

  • 8:00am - Registration Opens with Breakfast
  • 8:30am - Opening Plenary

Creating a New Community
So you're releasing a project or data into the wild. How do you find people who care and get them excited about it?

  • 9:00am - The Foundations for Community Building. Determining where to host code, who are relevant pre-existing communities, how to reach them, and other fundamentals.
    • Thea Aldrich, Random Hacks of Kindness Community Support Manager, Second Muse
  • 9:10am - Growing a Community. How to find more members and get them actively involved.
    • Jeff Walpole, CEO, Phase2
  • 9:20am - Cross-agency collaboration on open source projects.
    • Gray Brooks, Senior API Strategist, General Services Administration
  • 9:30am - DARPA XDATA: Creating a new community, an organizational framework, and efficient mechanisms for government development and adaptation of open source big data tools.
    • Dr. Christopher White, XDATA Program Manager, DARPA
      • The DARPA XDATA program seeks to develop technology to leverage large volumes of government data at all stages, from analysis to operations, in the technical areas of scalable analytics, big data processing, and visual user interfaces. The program is in the first of a multi-year effort to develop computational techniques and software toolkits. Over twenty-five teams from academia, research laboratories, and small and large business are developing the software tools on the XDATA program. One goal of the program is to minimize design-to-testing time of new software by using near continual feedback from users and to capture all software development in the form of open source software libraries. These libraries will be released in increments after a workshop, evaluation, and exercise period each summer for the next few years. The first XDATA summer exercise will complete in August. One XDATA challenge is to effectively manage these staged releases at the end of each summer, ensuring that a new user and developer community grows around the effort, and that it is strong enough after a few years of DARPA support to sustain itself into the future. We hope to identify opportunities and best practices that will enable cultural shifts in government, business, and non-profit organizations to occur and then to facilitate the transition to a new community around DoD problems that is inherently open and collaborative.
  • 10:30am - Participant's Problem Solving Session One
  • 11:30am - Participant's Problem Solving Session Two
  • 12:30pm - Report Out
  • 1:00pm - Lunch

Open Discussion
We don't know everything you'll need to learn, so we leave this time for discussions that don't fit cleanly into the other time slots.

  • 2:00pm - Participant's Problem Solving Session One
  • 3:00pm - Participant's Problem Solving Session Two
  • 4:00pm - Report Out and Closing
  • 4:30pm - End!!

Image: Open Forum Foundation

This event has four parts, each of which is 4 hours long. The first three are each focused on a specific topic and follow this format:

  • (3) 10 minute speeches by experts
  • (1) hour long vignette where a federal employee will pose a current issue they are struggling with and receive advice from the three experts. There will also be opportunity for the audience and remote participants to provide suggestions and recommendations.
  • (2) 1 hour long small group discussion periods during which the participants will propose topic-relevant discussions that the experts and other participants will engage in. All will work to improve their understanding of the topic or find solutions to the raised issue.
  • (1) 1/2 hour Report out where all participants have the opportunity to share what they learned in their discussions to further disseminate knowledge and learning.
  • The fourth is unconference style to allow participants and experts to discuss additional topics they are interested in.

This event grows out of the past two years of success. The first Open Source Summit was held at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA and focused specifically on NASA's open source policies. Last year, OSS [full schedule] moved to the University of Maryland in College Park and broadened the discussion to include all agencies, including NASA, the State Dept, and the VA on the planning team.

At the end of the event, the proceedings of all discussions will be made available for others to learn from.

Image: Conference Findings
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