Economic Participation in the Age of Networking: Digital Ecosystems of Knowledge, Business and Services. Bruxelles, November 7th, 2007 | Achievements of the first 3 years and future perspectives of the Collaborative EU research and deployment of Digital Business Ecosystems.


Bruce Perens

Bruce Perens Bruce Perens is a leader in the Free Software and Open Source community. He advises large corporations and several national governments on Open Source policy. He is creator of the Open Source Definition, the manifesto of the Open Source movement in Software.
Perens is a vice president at Sourcelabs, a venture-funded company that provides Open Source services to Wall Street. He is a visiting researcher at Agder University in Norway, funded by a national grant.
He was HP's first Senior Global Strategist for Linux and Open Source, and was Senior Research Scientist for Open Source with George Washington University's Cyber Security Policy Research Institute. The Bruce Perens' Open Source Series from Prentice Hall published 24 titles with Perens as series editor. Perens previously spent 20 years in the computer graphic animation industry, 12 of them at Pixar Animation Studios. He has a credit on the films A Bug's Life and Toy Story II.

Summary of the opening keynote

Open Source provides much of the software infrastructure for many of the world's largest companies and organizations: Merrill Lynch, Google, Pixar, Amazon, the City of New York, and probably you - although you might not know it. Innovative products like Linux, Firefox, and Apache are the market-leaders in their sectors, but there are tens of thousands of Open Source programs, used for just about everything. But the economics of Open Source are non-intuitive: how can you make money by giving software away? Why did IBM de-emphasize AIX, after spending Billions, in favor of Linux, the product of a loose collaboration of programmers that it can never control? How can the world's greatest city trust Open Source to help manage its jails?

Perens will show how Open Source is often the most effective strategy for creating and utilizing new innovation. He will explain the economics of Open Source and how it works for profit-generating companies. His talk will be clear to decision makers yet informative even for Open Source pros.


Longer Profile

Bruce Perens, today he is most active in evangelizing to government and industry. He has presented at UN, EU, and national government events and has met with many high-ranking politicians and two heads of state. He advises local and national governments and a number of "Fortune 100" corporations on Open Source policy.

Perens is probably best known as the creator of the Open Source Definition, which is both the manifesto of the Open Source movement in software and the specification for its licensing. Perens was the person who announced Open Source to the world, and co-founded the Open Source Initiative. He is the founder of the Linux Standard Base, the main standards project for Linux; and Software in the Public Interest.

Perens also founded No-Code International, an organization that lobbied successfully for the worldwide elimination requirements for examination in Morse code proficiency which were mandatory for licensing of ham radio operators. In that capacity, Perens helped to change a treaty of the International Telecommunications Union, and a law in all but one country that permits Amateur Radio. Russia is said to be alone in still requiring Morse code proficiency of its Radio Amateurs today.

One of Perens main areas of political and policy activity is the Individual as Innovator.

This includes:

Open Source, Open Hardware, Open Content Open Source is uniquely accessible to individuals and loose remote collaborations, while other forms of software development are focused on corporations. Open Hardware is the practice of sharing hardware designs under the rules of Open Source software licensing. Open Content is writing and media that are licensed as Open Source and open to wide collaboration. The Freedom to Tinker The ability of individuals to: perform scientific research and experiments for innovation and for their own education, to have access to scientific materials, and to be able to modify consumer equipment as part of their research - for example to replace its software with software bearing other features (often Open Source). Learning Without Teachers Systems for education for those to whom teachers are not available, practical, or even desirable. In general, Perens believes that discovery-based learning is superior to pedantic systems in delivering students that are capable of creativity and who can conceive of and produce new products. Amateur Radio for Education Amateur Radio is one of the few ways that a student can gain hands-on knowledge engineering real wireless communications systems, including space communications. It's the only system capable of worldwide communications without a commercial or government-owned infrastructure. Such infrastructures are always blocked from student tinkering for the protection of the network. Using Amateur Radio, a student can become a global network operator with significant responsibility. The Amateur satellite program, AMSAT, has launched about 60 satellites since 1963 as "hitch hikers" on commercial or government payloads, and is the only significant operator of space technology outside of government and large corporations.

Another area of activity for Perens is Democracy in the Internet Age, lobbying for network neutrality and the delivery of balanced information to the voter. Voters will decide for whom to cast a vote based on the information they receive. Perens believes that the internet will be the main medium of democratic discourse in the future, and that control of the internet and of the devices and software used to access the internet must be broadly distributed among the public in order for these systems to be free from attempts to unduly influence the voter. Thus, Perens feels that Open Standards and the inter-operability between multiple vendors that they define are critically important to the future of democracy.

Perens invests significant work into the topics of liberty and freedom, the public welfare, and the interaction of economics with Open Source and Open Standards. Some of his research papers are available on this site.

Today, Perens is employed as a vice president at Sourcelabs. His position there allows him to spend half of his salaried time on any Open-Source-related activity of his choice, without any influence from Sourcelabs on what he says or does in that role. This independence allows him to maintain his credibility as a leader in the Open Source community. The other half of Perens' salaried time is spent counseling Sourcelabs' customers on their corporate Open Source policy and processes and Sourcelabs itself on internal policy and direction. Sourcelabs also provides Perens' with funds for travel to pursue his Open Source activities. Perens travels a week to ten days per month, pursuing issues of the Open Source community and visiting Sourcelabs' customers.

Perens is also a visiting researcher at Agder University in Norway, under a grant from the Competence Fund of Western Norway. His work there centers on European government policy regarding Open Source. He has spent a month at the university each summer for the past two years, and visits several times each year, usually for about a week each time.

In the past, Perens has been HP's Senior Global Strategist for Linux and Open Source, the founder and CEO of Linux Capital Group, a business incubator starting Open Source companies, a board member or chairman of several corporations, and senior scientist for Open Source with the Cyber Security Policy Research Institute at George Washington University.

Perens lives in Berkeley, California, with his family most of the year.

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