Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Thanks for sharing

Bjorn recently blogged about the importance of Eclipse projects being “open, transparent and permeable.” I completely agree, but think there are some hard questions around this.

First, there’s the volume of information. For any given Eclipse project, there are a number of communication channels. In no particular order:

  1. web site
  2. mailing lists
  3. wiki pages
  4. newsgroups
  5. Bugzilla
  6. articles
  7. source code
  8. other mailing lists associated with the project (e.g. Eclipse Councils)
  9. meeting minutes
  10. conference presentations and discussions

There’s probably more – 10 seems like a reasonable example set. Now, let’s multiple these channels by the number of projects I might be interested in (some projects might not use a particular channel, others might have specific channel… you get the idea…) and that’s a lot of information to absorb. Too much: I’m deeply involved in DTP, and I’m running as fast as I can to keep up with the DTP channels, never mind other projects.

Certainly I pay attention to other projects (example: the platform… who doesn’t?), but my view is a specific slice of their information content. There’s simply not enough time for me to do otherwise.

What I need is information summaries or alerts for topics I care about. I appreciate knowing about technical discussions, and having input into decisions I care about. But how to I isolate this information? I submit that another mailing list, wiki page, or such is not the answer… Telling me “it is there, just read this or that” misses the whole point.

Secondly, there is a back-channel of communication for dealing with individuals or organization/companies who want to have a “private” conversation. There are a lot of reasons why, and maybe I’ll blog about it later if people are interested. Most Eclipse project members I know encourage these conversations to come “into the light” as soon as possible, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a private component as well. Do you think this is a bad idea, out of the spirit of Eclipse? Maybe. Are all Eclipse project members willing to step into a panopticon with the community? I would, but only if I were convinced that everyone else would too (otherwise, I cut off an important and useful channel without corresponding benefit).


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