Vision and Growth Strategy

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Part 1: Research Component

Other campus organizations

School of Information and Library Science: "The School of Information and Library Science seeks to advance the profession and practice of librarianship and information science; to prepare students for careers in the field of information and library science; and to make significant contributions to the study of information. Faculty members further these goals by teaching and advisory work; by research and scholarly publishing; and by service to the school, the university, the state, and the professional community." No mention of "open source." 'Home to one of the largest "collections of collections" on the Internet, is a conservancy of freely available information, including software, music, literature, art, history, science, politics, and cultural studies. is a collaboration of the Center for the Public Domain and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.'

While ibilio does advocate open source software, ibiblio is not a student organization, and they do advocate other information other than software.

Free Culture Carolina: " is a diverse, non-partisan group of students and young people who are working to get their peers involved in the free culture movement. Launched in April 2004 at Swarthmore College, has helped establish student groups at colleges and universities across the United States. Today, chapters exist at over 30 colleges, from Maine to California, with many more getting started around the world. was founded by two Swarthmore students after they sued voting-machine manufacturer Diebold for abusing copyright law in 2003. Named after the book Free Culture by Stanford University law professor Lawrence Lessig, is part of a growing movement, with roots in the free software / open source community, media activists, creative artists and writers, and civil libertarians. Groups with which has collaborated include Creative Commons, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, and Downhill Battle." - See also:

This is likely the closest organization to COSI. While Free Culture certainly advocates for open source software, their scope is certainly much larger. COSI neither encourages nor discourages interest in media activism, creative artists and writers and/or civil libertarians. Additionally, Free Culture is an organization started at Swarthmore College and while FCC certainly makes Free Culture Chapel Hill friendly, the rubric is very global. There are particulars of UNC, such as our School of Medicine and hospital, our Law and Business Schools as well as many other departments and schools that don't fall into the Swarthmore Free Culture rubric. It's conceivable that at a school of Swarthmore's size that one organization could handle "free software / open source community, media activists, creative artists and writers, and civil libertarians," but such breadth is hard on a campus of this size. So, essentially, there are two ways in which we differ from Free Culture Carolina; 1) We are a homegrown organization that answers and affiliates (at current) with no other organizations. We'd like for our ideals to be picked up at other institutions, but those institutions will be following the Carolina model and not the Swarthmore model. 2) Our scope is more focused.

We believe there are other benefits to open source software (better software, quicker bug/security fixes, etc.) that don't necessarily align with the political agenda of Free Culture and overall copyright reform. That being said, we plan on having a great relationship with Free Culture and assume many of our members would also be interested in Free Culture. Erin Watson is one of the current presidents, with whom we've already had an extensive discussion. However, we have no intentions of excluded members because they don't agree with the views of "media activists, creative artists and writers, and civil libertarians."

Fighting Against the Digital Divide (FADD): This is a committee of the Campus Y led by Jeff Chen and SILS undergraduate Shawn Guy. Recently at the Campus Y Re-opening ceremony, Cristobal Palmer and Doug Whitfield had an extensive conversation with Jeff and Shawn about future collaboration. Though a graduate student, officer Doug Whitfield shares two classes with Shawn. "The purpose of Fighting Against the Digital Divide (FADD) is to provide University employees with the necessary technology skills to succeed in the workplace and in the future." While COSI feels that it can help support FADD's goals, clearly FADD has an agenda very different from COSI.

Technology Without Borders: "We target communities where children lack access to computers, and thus risk becoming educated, yet remaining computer illiterate. There are plenty of US companies that throw away hundreds of computers every year, and plenty of communities, especially in developing countries, that could benefit from receiving these computers. Our goal is to bring the two together in a significant and sustainable way that will provide basic computer education to people who could benefit from it. Club activities focus around global summer outreach projects, as well as local community service and campus activities that further our cause." Like FADD, it should be very clear this is not what we are doing. However, as is the case with FADD, there is a great opportunity for us to work with and support this organization by promoting the distribution of technology outside the US using FOSS (Free Open Source Software).

UNC Linux User Group: First off, this is not a student organization. This is simply a listserv and a facebook group. While Linux is an open source operating system, there is open source software for Windows and Mac and COSI plans on wholeheartedly endorsing these options also. Additionally, there are other open source operating systems aside from Linux, such as BSD (of which Mac's OS X is built upon) and Solaris. Clearly, UNC Linux User Group has a more narrow focus than COSI.

ASIS&T: "ASIS&T is the professional society for information science, fostering intellectual discourse and career development for information professionals worldwide.

The student chapter advances those goals at the local level, by sponsoring lectures, panel discussions, field trips, and other activities. They focus on areas such as database administration, information architecture, user-centered design, and web development.

   * President: Doug Edmunds
   * Vice-President: Dre Orphanides
   * Treasurer/Secretary: Scott Martin
   * Webmaster: Dan Lucas"

Open source technology is certainly within the scope of ASIS&T, but they are clearly not focusing on the matter. The words "open source" do not appear in their mission statement which was copied from

ISSUE: "ISSUE was founded to promote the education of undergraduate information science students. The organization fosters communication among undergraduates, graduate students, staff and faculty; acclimates undergraduates into the SILS community; builds public awareness of information science; and represents the interests of undergraduates. Membership is extended to all undergraduate majors and minors and other undergraduates taking classes at SILS.

   * Administrative Officer: Mia Barnes
   * Alumni Administrator: Cherrelle Scott
   * Chief Technology Officer: Spencer Smith
   * Chief Information Officer: Trent Reese
   * Treasurer: Elizabeth Weislak
   * Communications: Holly Mabry
   * Chief Management Officer: Robert Shoemake
   * Information Recorder: Crystal Essex" -

Once again, no mention of "open source" in their blurb.

ILSSA (Information and Library Science Student Association): "ILSSA officers are liaisons between SILS students and faculty, alumni and the Graduate & Professional Student Federation.

The organization provides a forum for discussion and action relating to school policies and issues and plans social events and career investigation opportunities. They inform students and faculty of current activities and issues. All SILS students are automatically ILSSA members.

   * President: Abbey Thompson
   * Vice-President: Libby Gorman
   * Technical Coordinator: Jonathan Morris
   * Treasurer: Vedana Vaidhyanathan"


For more information, see:

As SILS students, '07-'08 officers Douglas Whitfield, Jacob Kramer-Duffield and Jared King are members of ILSSA (Palmer has submitted an application for the SILS graduate program). While intellectually COSI could tap the resources of ILSSA, ILSSA is designed, very clearly, for the support of SILS students. COSI, on the other hand, wants to embrace all students on campus; from working with Kenan-Flagler students on open source business models on the south side of campus to digital recording and editing software at Hill Hall with the music students. Since the masters program is a two year program, all of the ILSSA officers are first years and share many of the classes with the aforementioned COSI officers, who are also first years. Abbey Thompson is also SILS GPSF Senator.

Contribution to University's Mission

The Carolina Open Source Initiative (COSI) will contribute to the university's mission by promoting computer software that will enhance the educational experience of students, the research of faculty, and services to the general population. Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) provides an option to those who do not wish to use or cannot afford traditional commercial software. The non-profit, national organization Open Source Initiative notes that "most/all open source software can be freely copied and used. There are no licenses to track and thus no related costs, or legal risks." By eliminating barriers such as cost and license fees, FOSS will enable a greater number of students and community members to engage in creative expression, research, and tasks of productivity using programs that are just as functional and more reliable and flexible than traditional commercial software.

Many students may worry about financing software such as Microsoft Office in order to complete assignments on a daily basis. This program costs a minimum of $185.00 when purchased for a PC through UNC Student Stores. An open source office suite such as Open Office provides nearly identical functionality and is available for no cost. Additional open source programs for tasks such as media viewing and creating are similarly available for no cost. Since the costs of achieving an advanced degree in a university environment are increasing, the use of open source software will contribute to students' quality of life and financial stability. Support, resources, and a community of users of these programs will be available through networks created and maintained by COSI.

Faculty and graduate students performing research will also benefit from open source software in many of the same ways that students will. In addition, COSI will provide the support for researchers from a variety of backgrounds to become intellectual leaders and researchers in this advancing field. While computer science students could gain a lot by developing programs that could be promoted through COSI, business students will find new opportunities for research and practice in developing business models concerning the advancement of the collaborative development of various types of open source software. Law students may be interested in the ramifications of copyright laws on open source software, and students studying social development may be concerned with how open source software has affected the digital divide in areas of the world where more traditional commercial software is too expensive. COSI will support these endeavors and search for additional ways in which open source software can promote research and intellectual advancement.

We also hope to diminishing the digital divide by promoting FOSS throughout the community. Many members of our local community as well as software users worldwide are greatly affected by the cost and licensing restrictions of commercial software. Open source software promotes the freedom of resources that advance quality of life, intellectual freedom, creative expression, and knowledge.

COSI will promote and recruit public speakers to come to campus who will discuss the issues of open source software.

Value of University Recognition

I think it's very clear that official recognition has the benefits of being able to reserve room space, SLICE space, web space (e.g. and apply for funding through Student Congress/GPSF Senate. There may also be posting policies in dorms or in campus buildings that only let official organizations post. Furthermore, current campus organizations, such as FADD (Fighting Against the Digital Divide) are hesitant to make plans with COSI until it gets official recognition.

Part 2 (questions 1-6)

1. Purpose, membership, audience

Our organization is intended to bring together people with interest and expertise in Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) on campus. There are various groups on campus that make use of or provide FOSS applications and platforms to one extent or another, but there is no group that exists to focus on the common issues faced by those on campus who would like to use, support, develop or maintain FOSS systems. SILS and other schools make use of mediawiki, for example. An increasing number of classes and student organizations are using open source wikis to support collaborative work through group and/or class projects. Also, the campus events calendar is based on a FOSS Content Management system. Many students use the Firefox web browser. The diversity of FOSS applications and systems means that everyone on campus is a potential contributor or audience member. COSI will provide an opportunity for students who want to give back to the campus by supporting FOSS apps for fellow students. COSI will provide resources for students seeking FOSS alternatives. COSI will also act as a united voice in encouraging the use of FOSS options where available, since their use is a way of giving back and adding value to the community--not just the UNC community, but the world community of software users.

2. Vision for COSI

COSI has a vision to model itself after both CCI and parts of ITS. We'd like a prominent CTOPS presence like CCI and a prominent support apparatus like ITS. We'd like to be the largest computer based student organization on campus with a membership base as large as some of the more prominent campus organizations such as YD and BSM. Lofty goals, but if you don't aim high, you'll never get there.

3. Funding, space requirements and fulfillment

Funding is always an interesting issue with open source. "Support" is often the economic model, and donations through paypal are another frequent model. For items such as speakers, we will plan on getting Student Congress support. For any events we might have, corporate sponsors, such as IBM or Red Hat will come into play. From working with prior organization, Doug Whitfield has learned that selling magazines and t-shirts are not good fund-raisers, at least not for the short term. We do not plan on taking dues at present, but this is an option we may explore in the future if need-be.

Space is less of an issue. Given the technological nature of this organization, much can happen in video conferences, Second Life or other such virtual organizational spaces. There is ample room in Manning Hall for physical officer meetings without reserving space. When the time comes to have meetings with the entire group, space can be reserved well in advance from the Union. As for storage space, there are many lockers in Manning that go unused. If an officer does not use a locker, then we could use theirs. Additionally, COSI could discuss getting a locker from Lara Bailey or Meg McKee in the SILS office.

4. Intended learning outcomes

Leaders will learn more about open source software.
Members will learn more about open source software.
Our intended 'audience' will learn more about open source software.

Specifically, leaders will learn the barriers of entry in fighting against the Microsoft monopoly as well as information on corporate relations and more about the way our university works. Members will also learn these things, but to a lesser degree.

5. project membership and leadership development

Since the barrier to entry is very low for contributing to COSI (eg. can you edit a wiki?), the bulk of our efforts towards growing the organization will be publicity efforts. To that end, we will post facebook invitations at the beginning of each semester which will link to our website. Members of the leadership will also be expected to request permission from their professors to speak at the beginning of class and/or post a group URL to the class listserv. Leadership positions will be offered to group members who contribute frequently and consistently to the organization. Leadership should offer a draw since it will afford the opportunity to meet and introduce speakers brought to campus by the group as well as contribute to an organization that play a large part in meeting the computing needs of UNC community members.

Year 1: Leadership and members will learn through trial and error, from discussion with campus leaders such as Paul Jones at ibiblio, members of ITS and various IT professionals from schools and departments around campus. Some of the current leadership has worked in IT departments in various campus organizations and that should help facilitate learning.
Year 2: Essentially, learning will take place the same way, except that there will be more learning from experience, rather than trial and error. Many of the current (but not all) of the current leadership will be gone in year two. However, given the technological nature of the organization, long distance communication should not be an issue in the event that new leadership needed to discuss particularly troublesome issues with old leadership. Members that learned as members in year one will become leaders that will learn as leaders in year 2.
Year 3: At this point, there should still be some carry over from the original leadership, as one of the current leaders is a PhD student. Some other individuals of the leadership team are North Carolina natives that have lived in Chapel Hill or the Triangle much of their life and likely will be looking for permanent positions nearing the area, which should help to smooth the transition.
Year 4: This is when we'd like to be large enough to begin a voting process for leadership. At this point there should be specific documentation and leadership training. Current leadership life plans may be heading elsewhere (ie with girlfriend beginning residency).
Year 5: The group should be well established at this point, where documentation, voting and leadership training are in full force.

The key to leaders learning is having leaders, which requires having members, which requires a prominent place at CTOPS and in the Pit EARLY in the year.

6. retention and transition plans

Year 1: CTOPS in 2007 will be key, as will Fall 2007. This will be important every year, but particularly the first year to get things going. If things don't go well the first year, excitement is going to wane.
Year 2: '08-'09 - Potentially half the current administration will still be UNC students during year two. Year two could be a very important year since World Domination 201 ( believe 2008 is the year Vista (or not) will take over.
Year 3: '09-'10 Year three the organization will come to grips (potentially) with who "won" (Apple, Microsoft or other). Further growth will depend on who wins. As we've stated several times before, we plan on supporting all OSes and thus from some standpoint, it doesn't matter. However, if a FOSS OS wins, our organization will have a much different mission than it does at current.
Year 4: '10-'11 As suggested in Year 4 of point 5, this is a major year. Jacob will be finishing up his PhD, and Doug's girlfriend will be ready to move away for residency. Additionally, we will not yet have the focus of the CCI initiative and we will be moving into a more democratic form of governance. The key point though is, whoever wins the 64-bit battle, open source software isn't going anywhere. Firefox works on Vista, as does Thunderbird. Students are getting more tech savvy, as their lives from birth have been more tech-influenced. It is key for the '10-'11 leadership to keep this in mind to be successful and not let a Microsoft victory in the 64-bit wars discourage them. The computer world moves so quickly, it's hard to know where we'll be.
Year 5: '11-'12 The new CCI contract does not expire until 2014, which is out of the scope of the 5-year plan. However, at some point, COSI will begin lobbying for a CCI contract that allows an open source OS or an open source based OS (such as OS X). Again, if there is a major change in the market or in CCI, COSI's mission is likely to change dramatically. What this means for members will be unknown until it happens. However, preparation for the new CCI contract WILL be a big deal. If Apple or some other beat out Microsoft, there will be a new CCI contract and COSI plans on being a strong student voice in that decision.