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Open Source in Information Science?

Today I tweeted “What would you teach in an Open Source track in Information Science?” Since my tweets also get carried over to Facebook, FriendFeed and even to the sidebar of this blog, I want to bring together some of the comments here:

@smalljones Good ?, tons! inventive uses of OS tech to preserve, catalog, and share info. How it can change the way we interact with info…

I think that could be a really good track to add to SILS, there’s tons of great stuff you could do! Which I’m sure you know 🙂

@smalljones: I’d look at OSS tools for building online collections of “stuff” (e.g., DSpace, Greenstone), but then again, I’m biased.

How to drive UX, IA, etc. in FLOSS projects as part of a distributed team

@smalljones is the goal to create experts in open source ideology or in open source technology?

More in the comments below.


  1. Paul

    4/15/2008 at 12:14 pm

    Posted on FB by Josh:

    What to teach in an Open Source IS track? Licenses licenses licenses! Dull, slightly arcane, but the foundation of the entire movement. Then, of course, there’s everything in Open Sources, especially business models (and how they’ve panned out…). Bonus points if you can get a whole syllabus on business-y stuff, and get the B-school involved. Also in business: how FOSS allows the creation of start-ups.

    There’s a lot of interesting discussion potential in collaboration techniques, including the recent move towards decentralized version control. It’s openness pushing further into itself, taking away the few central points.

    Another big development not reflected in OS is Open CourseWare and open journals. Openness getting pushed further afield.

    It would be interesting to get people to survey the state of software, to see where FOSS is best-in-breed (Apache) and where it’s not so much (iTunes). What else would I want to stick a bunch of person-hours into researching…

  2. An Open Source curriculum should definitely include some history. I’m picturing people having to present a puppet show with a bunch of Unix-bearded sockpuppets.

  3. as others have said FOSS involving business and profit (maybe in-sync with the B-school) is a great idea.
    Apart from that I would love to know about FOSS standards, hardware, design and content.

  4. Paul

    4/15/2008 at 4:45 pm

    Sara writes on FB:

    it seems to me that open source deals a lot with the general public, enthusiasts, and people who might not be affiliated with the academic or corporate world. Nevertheless, these people have something to offer in terms of knowledge or even expertise in a certain field.

    There are a lot of different kinds of people out there, some of them passionate and learned about certain areas, although their education may not stem from formal studies.

    In my experience at SILS, most academics tend to herd up with like academics and are not familiar with what goes on in other herds. If I were teaching an open source class, I would like to create an exercise or a project in which my students must act as a liaison between the information in someone’s head and an open source resource; they would have to find a knowledgeable ‘lay person’, conduct an interview, ask questions, and sift through the conversation in order to find pertinent material to use in resource development.

    As I said, I’m a little ignorant to open source studies. However, from a student’s point of view, most SILS students I talk to become frustrated if their courses are too theoretical and not grounded enough in the real world. We want practical applications, examples, and practice doing the things that we want to do when we graduate.

    p.s. When are you teaching this course? It sounds fabulous.

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