Phipps Proposes OSI Shake-Up

Is The OSI Still Relevant?

Jessica Thornsby

The OSI to draw up a new, member-led governance charter.

The OSI has recently come under fire at Simon Phipps’ blog, with one visitor referring to it as a “zombie” that “staggers on, consuming brains.” So, is it time for a shake-up of the OSI? according to Simon Phipps, the answer is yes.

The OSI Board member has called for an OSI reform, and his ideas centre around OSI becoming a member organisation with a representative leadership, which is different to the current model. The OSI currently consists of a Board of Directors, but the route onto that Board is unclear. Phipps points out that this uncertainty results in “new blood” being in particularly short supply for the OSI, which has led to the Board passing a motion to impose time limits on Board membership. With this motion, a number of long-standing OSI Board members are due to retire over the upcoming twelve month period.

Phipps is currently calling for all those who have a problem with OSI, to consider joining the initiative. “Plenty of people spent time here and on Slashdot throwing rocks at OSI – many deserved – but there’s an opportunity to join in to fix things,” he says.

But, is OSI still relevant? Phipps has previously laid out three points where the organisation still “plays a very important and relevant role in the world of software freedom.” Firstly, according to him the OSI and OSD are important tools in maintaining an open source standard. Secondly, OSI is a major player in the licensing game, encouraging old “incorrectly approved licences” to retire, and guiding organisations away from creating new, unnecessary licenses. And, lastly, the OSI is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to calling-out these ‘incorrect’ open source licenses, something that was seen recently in the WebM licensing debate.

Phipps is aware that OSI could do more to keep up with recent trends in the world of developers. He proposes placing a focus on open data and cloud computing, and ensuring that the “next generation” of software developers are aware of the full scope of open source.

The OSI are currently working on a new, member-led governance charter for OSI. Anyone with thoughts on how the OSI should be run, are encouraged to get in touch with either the OSI Board or Simon Phipps himself.

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