Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Reflections on Power

I wanted to share with folks a few of my personal reflections on the nature of power. To start with, it's important to understand what specifically I mean by the word power. Of course Wikipedia is our best friend when it comes questions like that. If you look there to help understand what power is, you'll see that it says "Power has many meanings, most of which imply (a capacity for) control or force." At the time of this writing, there was also a very powerful message at the top of the page, "You can help Wikimedia change the world!" Indeed! It is on this sociological aspect of power that I'd like to focus because it has interesting implications for open communities as well for the individuals in them. Of course power is definitely about control and force; even in the sociological sense, power is both something that constrains (i.e., controls the results of an action) as well as something that enables (i.e., forces the results of an action in particular direction). In the exercise of power there is a balance between coercion and influence, with the ultimate purpose being to bring about change (or perhaps to prevent it).

A particularly powerful analogy for me is to think of power as flame that is fed by the force of living things. As introspective conscious entities, we're in a unique position to contemplate power in this pure form. I visualize power as a flame into which I feed my thoughts and from that a manifest entity with a life of its own takes shape. That entity can and does exist independently of me, but I feed it and without anyone like me, it would vanish in the blink of an eye, just as would a flame without its fuel, the oxygen to consume that fuel, and the conditions in which to renew and drive the process. And just as a flame has power over its environment, so too, power has power over us. It's an extremely important principle to keep in mind that the extent to which one tries to coerce power, it will take control.

So I see power as a flame that should be held forth with a gently cupped hand both as something to carefully nurture and protect and as something with a life of its own to be kept separate and at a distance lest it consume more than one might intend. It's is not something to be clutched with a greedy fist and held close, for surely it will consume the holder and then it will escape entirely or cease to exist. Like the old saying "If you love something, set it free; if it comes back it's yours; if it doesn't it never was." When you share your power freely with other like minded people, the power grows in unexpected ways. Beware of those who will clutch and grab for power, and be most wary of that person being yourself. Greed is a basic human failing, don't ever assume you are above it. As the saying goes, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I believe the Eclipse community specifically, the open source movement in general, and the internet as a whole, are incredibly powerful forces that will do more to change our global society than perhaps any political force ever has. The internet has brought down barriers to the flow of information and to the spread of ideas. It's ignited a new type of flame, the open community, that we all feed. We cannot help but influence it and we should be particularly wary of those who will coerce it for the gains of a small few. Rest assured that those who are too enamored by power will be consumed by it. A global force manifested in the internet is sweeping the planet and it empowers us all. The flow of information is no longer controlled by the editor of a journal , the publisher of a book, or the CEO of a corporation. We all have direct control over the information that flows around the globe, often within milliseconds of when we produce it. Others can rapidly build on these ideas and of course in the end, the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts.

So nurture power, exercise it transparently, and share it wisely. Individuals control the world.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Fall Musings

The EclipseCon submissions are picking up their pace though no doubt there are quite a few people waiting until the last minutes to sneak in their submissions. Speaking of sneaking, look who was sneaking around my pond this lovely sunny fall morning.

I took these pictures out of my bedroom window. There were actually two of them, but I didn't get them both on camera.

Darin mentioned that foxes might help take care of my diversity problem, i.e., the mink that was eating all my frogs. Ironically, that problem took care of itself: she electrocuted herself under that rock shortly after last week's photo was taken. I wonder if there is anyone else I could convince to crawl under that rock, but clearly I digress...

With regard to EclipseCon, I highly encourage folks to think about giving short talks. I know you don't get free attendance for those, but they are very little work to prepare, they will given you a chance to talk about the cool things you are doing, and of course, most importantly, they will give everyone else a chance to find out more about you and your cool work. This is likely to help you establish contacts with like minded folks and meeting people is half the fun at EclipseCon. There are a great many short talk slots and not so many submissions for them, so the opportunity is ripe and I highly recommend folks planning to attend give a little more thought not just to attending but also to participating. Don't be shy. Help make this the most diverse conference ever. Show us your colors.

I'm looking forward to the runtime summit too. Like the Eclipse platform, EMF is well recognized as a basis for implementing tools, but it's not so well recognized as providing a very flexible and powerful runtime. EMF's core runtime even works stand alone with no dependencies on any other Eclipse runtime jars and the 2.2 runtime works with Foundation 1.1, so it can even be used on small devices. I think it's important that Eclipse's technologies be recognized as a powerful basis for runtimes as well as for tools, and this summit can help with that. It's one of the fallacies of our industry that there are tools and there are runtimes, and never the twain shall meet. Think of how much more productive developers could be if they can use common technology as the basis of both.

I'm also excited because Tom, Boris, and I are investigating supporting the core EMF runtime and the EMF edit framework that works with GWT. Tom is making very good progress. He's one of my favorite people at Eclipse because he's so incredibly helpful. I think he sets a really high bar as one of Eclipse's outstanding citizens. Check out his offer to help provide and maintain a 3.3 language pack. He's like a ray of sunshine on a frosty morning.

I've also been keeping in eye on the DTP newsgroup. I'm actually I'm a closet newsgroup junkie. Oops, I guess it's best to not say that out loud. In any case, I watched with interest the thread by Jeff Ramsdale about his offer to develop an EMF Open Data Access component. I think this will help feed EMF data into BIRT, so I'll bet a great many people will derive value from that.

Closer to home, the new Mint component is being provisioned now and there is yet another new proposal for a Temporality component. I'm very pleased that the modeling community is growing so incredibly fast. It seems to me that diversity breeds more diversity as I watch more and more people wanting to get involved in the rapidly growing set of components. I also had a few private conversations with companies looking to join the party, so I expect the pace of growth the pick up further. Eclipse is a great place to be!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Kudos to Eclipse's IP Team

David Sciamma submitted Contribution Questionaire 1862 today for the contributed code base of the new EMFT component that will provide support for graphical Ecore editing. I'm really very excited about it!

Imagine my pleasant surprise when it was approved via the parallel IP process in less than 1 hour. Incredible! Cheers to the IP team!

Don't over do it though!

For personal reasons, I won't be able to got to OSSummit Asia after all. So Crusty (guess which one is Crusty) won't get to meet MLP until another trip.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Coping with Diversity

Like the modeling community, orchids are extremely diverse. They represent the largest family of flowering plants, which might surprise you since they seem so exotic and rare. It surprises me that the modeling community has yielded no EclipseCon 2008 submissions yet! But I'm hopeful the community will soon produce some blossoms because, as if by good omen, my Cattleya just went into bloom the other day. Not only does it look lovely, it smells wonderful too!

There was a heavy frost last night, so that pretty much does in the last of the late bloomers. Come on modelers, don't be late bloomers like my Delphiniums.

You'll be frosted if you miss the November 19th deadline that's rapidly approaching!

And then, not unlike my Euonymus, you're likely to turn scarlet from embarrassment for being left out in the cold.

So be first and propose lots. It's a predatory world out there.

I was shocked to find a mink at my pond just a few hours ago! This sure explains a lot though. The missing koi, the dwindling frogs (note what's hanging out of her mouth), and the sparsity of this year's tadpole population. See the rock behind her? She just dove into the water and has her burrow in there!

Oh my goodness. I can't just send the dogs to chase her away like the heron either. I'm not sure what to do about her. At least she hasn't chewed a hole in the liner like that darned muskrat did a few years back.

Ah, diversity, it's a double edged sword...