+1 on no "advertising" or "announcements" on this list. I agree that
it may sound churlish to stop good organizations from sending good
information to good people; I also agree that allowing it would
diminish the usefulness of this list. If the web page of offerings is
not enough, then maybe set up a separate list for that kind of thing.
+1 on Arnulf's analysis of freely provided course materials. MIT
started the Open Course Ware (OCW) movement a few years ago and it
certainly has not cut back on MIT's ability to attract "customers",
i.e. students. In fact, it has spawned a mini-industry of other
universities putting their materials online.
On Jan 18, 2008, at 7:58 AM, Arnulf Christl wrote:
Howard Butler wrote:
On Jan 17, 2008, at 1:34 PM, Cameron Shorter wrote:
If you were to lead the development of this material and put it
into the Open Source (with your name attached) this would give you
extra credibility and marketing reach.
Why? Why must OTG put their hard earned training materials in the
public domain and give them away for free for "extra credibility"?
What would then be the incentive for someone to pay $$$ to go to an
intensive training session?
Entrepreneurs, we have thoroughly analyzed this aspect over the past
years and come to the conclusion that publishing course material
openly is not detrimental to earning money. Quite the contrary it
even helps us making more business. The added value is generated at
several levels including both hard cash and marketing (find out
details below). As active FOSSGIS software contributors we are happy
to foster and promote the projects that we are involved with. In
some cases (for example MapServer and PostGIS) this is the only way
that we can give back our 2Ct contribution.
To better understand the involved factors we have studied uses cases
in detail. First we have grouped our clients into three distinct
categories who *use* our course material, these are: * Experts
Then we have identified three distinct groups who *profit* from
having course material released under an open and free license.
These are: * Clients (~users, as categorized above) * Creators (for
example the WhereGroup or Chandler OTG who produce "Intellectual
Property") * the FOSSGIS project and communities that are in the
focus of the training material (here MapServer and PostGIS).
A multidimensional matrix would probably make this transparent but
unfortunately I am too dumb to create it and will need to use words
to explain the dependencies.
1. Real Experts (hackers, nerds, freaks). They would never pay for
our courses because they are too damn smart. They wont offer courses
themselves (which would be detrimental to our business) because it
would bore them to death. But they still profit from having access
to material because it will speed up understanding the corresponding
FOSSGIS project. This will make them choose this project one over
another one because good developers are also lazy. This is good for
the FOSSGIS project and community because those people listen to
what those real experts have to say, recommend, etc. Hard to measure
- but unquestionably there.
2. Students. They will not be able to pay our rates anyway, so we do
not loose anything if we give them the material for free. Quite the
contrary, when those students leave school and come into a position
where they have to decide where to go - who you'r gonna ask -
Ghostbusters. This is a long term strategy that only market leaders
can follow. Corporations Besides that students can potentially also
enhance the course material, keep it up to date, etc. But only if it
is available under a FOSS license, etc. This currently does not
happen because universities and educational personnel are still in
the late sixties wrt their knowledge about Open Source but so what.
We have to be patient. Eventually the old farts who don't get it
will be replaced by those that we have helped educate with our
freely available course material and Bingo! If you lock your
training material away and treat it as "Intellectual Property" you
will be the only idiot who invests keeping it up to date. Why not
exploit those who are prepared to give (FOSS4G 08, Keynote by Damian
3. Professionals: Those are the ones that pay us money. They have a
problem on their hand, a budget to solve it and limited time. These
are the ones we love, we live off them. They would never bother to
try and learn by themselves with freely available material because
they have the resources to do it professionally and get somebody to
explain it to them. They don't have the time to learn it by
themselves. If they don't have the budget, they are not interesting
to us anyway.
All folks from these three groups will see who created the course
material and will memorize them as the experts on the topic. The GNU
FDL license has a clause where invariant sections can be defined,
typically this could be the front page and back cover, there you can
find the authors, company logo and web site links or the creators'
individual address, contacts. Link to the repository where the
document is maintained, mailing list or whatever you want to
advertise as important for this publication.
Therefore our competitors who offer the same training courses with
our material (Outrageous! My "Property") always advertise us as the
real real experts. Who're you gonna ask if you really wanna know?
Lastly - and so important that I cannot stress this enough -
obviously the Software Project is going to profit. Because the
largest open gash in FOSS' outward image is missing, rotten and
wrong documentation and training materials. If you miss that people
don't want you and go elsewhere. This is why EduCom is so important
to OSGeo (intellectual cross post).
My usual rate for this kind of consultancy is €145,- per hour plus
taxes. Writing this mail took me one hour (finding out the detail
took a little while longer though). From an OSGeo perspective all
this amounts to just a little more than 1€Ct because the greenback
unfortunately is so bad these days... This is frustrating and makes
one wonder why to produce anything for free.
I probably missed some things and got others wrong because I am just
a professional and not an expert. If you are an expert and know
which parts I got wrong, please let me know - then I can also profit
from this discussion. If it gets us anywhere we could also add this
to the Wiki.
IMO, what OTG is doing is a very classical business model of Open
Source development. Publishers like O'Reilly, Apress, Springer or
our own FOSS4G event workshops (did you know FOSS4G cleared 100k
this year? ;) ) follow this exact model.
The fact that OTG sees an opportunity to do this and has put forth
effort in developing materials is a signal there's a market there
and it is an indirect measurement of those projects' success -- not
a failure of the projects' documentation efforts. Not everyone has
the time to go learn all of this stuff on their own or the ability
to travel to FOSS4G and hope one of the workshops covers what they
need. I applaud OTG for developing a curriculum and providing
training services to serve this market, and I think the osgeo-
discuss is a perfect place for an announcement like this.
Does this mean that all businesses providing this kind of service
should now spam this list with their latest announcements? Maybe we
can add an announcement feature to the SPD which appears in the news
section for a few days? I just added a link to the EPR project
OpenBravo (little content but looks professional) as a new reference
site of how the SPD can be integrated into OSGeo's portal pages:
Best regards, Arnulf.
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