Thursday, November 02, 2006

Now Voyager depart, (much, much for thee is yet in store)

Welcome to my blog -- and welcome to the very first posting on the blog!

Looking at the site settings on, I can see that I created my blog site back in July 2004. Back then, blogging was still in it's infancy, and I was interested in what this phenomenon was all about, and how people were using this new medium to publish information that was of great personal interest to them. So why has it taken me so long to write this first post?

Well just like websites in general, the range in quality of bloggers and their blogs is quite remarkable. Overall I've been underwhelmed by the quality of many blogs that I have read, and the implication was always there that I'd do no better (and that still remains to be seen!)

I believe that interesting blogs are those that are both informative and express an opinion. Until recently I was working exclusively on a proprietary implementation of the Java specification for IBM. What "changed" is that IBM decided to participate in the Apache Harmony open source project, and I was lucky enough to be involved in that process. Up to that point it would have been inappropriate, or irrelevant to many people, for me to inform and opine on the issues that were of great personal interest to me.

Being involved with open source is a game-changer. I've worked on projects in collaboration with other companies, and worked in open standards groups such as the IETF, but nothing feels quite like working in an open source project. Open source projects provide a special combination of working on a shared architecture and code base, and working in a broad and liberal community with simple rules of engagement, that I believe is unique.

My first experience of open source was while working for IBM Canada through involvement with the early days of the Eclipse Project and subsequent formation of the Eclipse Foundation. That was a relatively smooth transition of an existing code and community from 'closed' to open development.

Starting to work with Apache was a different experience. It required learning the Apache style of working and interaction, which I had never really appreciated as an enthusiastic consumer of their software. I think I've seen enough now that I get the basics if not all the subtleties.

So now I feel that I can write about aspects of life that relate to a broader community of fellow travellers. Some of my opinions, ideas, and rants are not going to be appropriate to inflict directly on the Apache Harmony development team, who are a great bunch of people and rightly focused on the task in hand. To date it has been my office co-workers (and bewildered family members) who have endured such outbursts. At least now I will have a distinct channel to express myself, and people can make the decision whether to follow along or not.

Let's see if I can beat my current record, and get round to a second posting within the next two years.

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