One of the arguments for choosing Apache/BSD/MIT software licenses over Free Software licenses like the GPL is that the former harness the profit motive of individuals and companies for the benefit of the open source users. There is hypothetical positive feedback: Apache/BSD/MIT licenses allow proprietary extensions, which in turn lift up the open source source software by giving back bug fixes and feature enhancements.
Does this actually happen? Is the give-back significant, or does value mostly work its way up from open source community contributions? How many fixes and features come from work on proprietary, pay sites? How many come from proprietary, commercial software products?
I've made proprietary MapServer-based sites -- sites available to paying users, but no downloadable code or configuration -- and when they required enhancements or fixes of MapServer, I made the improvements and then gave them back (with consent of my customers) to the MapServer community. However, most of my MapServer contributions were made through my work on community, for-the-public software. The same goes for MapServer in general: most recent work on MapServer was (i'm digging up the stats on lines of code) done to implement OGC standards (WMS, WFS, WCS, SLD) for public-facing Canadian government web sites.
Do any of my readers have examples -- I'm specifically curious about any involving MapServer and GDAL/OGR -- of proprietary sites or software that have extended and improved open source GIS software?
Kai is working on PrimaGIS for Plone 3 at this week's Snow Sprint. I'll try to pass along updates throughout the week.
There is a question in All Points Blog this morning:
Slashdot reports that in preparation for the Google flyover of Sydney, a number of dotcoms spent hours making huge signs that would be visible from the air.
Is this spam?
No. Google's stunt was a clear invitation for exactly these kinds of smaller publicity stunts.
More on Google Book Search maps at The Stoa Consortium: Google Maps and Millions of Books.
Chris Calloway and TZPUG are ready to accept registration for Camp 5 (March 10-17, 2007 in Chapel Hill, NC). Philipp von Weitershausen is a great instructor; don't miss this chance to learn about Zope3 and Five from one of the community's most knowledgeable developers.
Big website update:
The annual Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial (FOSS4G) conference brings together the people who create, use, and support open spatial software. No other event brings together members of the open source development, open data creation, and open standards promotion communities like FOSS4G -- it is truly a "meeting of the tribes".
I am usually critical of OSGeo, but cannot deny that every statement on that welcome page is true.
[Rumors that Kirok will deliver the keynote to the tribes are untrue.]
The line about meeting of tribes is groan-inducing -- and you won't actually get to witness the GeoServer developers and GRASS developers ceremonially brew coffee around a hooka -- but there really is a pervasive, fun community spirit at these conferences. If you're looking to learn more about the universe of open source GIS and open data initiatives, or have something that you're pushing forward, you should go to Victoria this Fall for the total immersion experience.
GeoCarta's Roger Hart just reminded me of something I miss: the Great Salt Lake. Follow the links through his blog to the USGS's new bathymetric maps of my favorite little inland sea. Back in the day, I fished for perch and sailed in Gunnison Bay. Evaporation from the lake contributes to the annual 500" of snow dumped on Alta. Sea Monkies (Artemia franciscana) frolic in the smelly, briny compartment south of the railroad causeway. The modern lake is a remnant of ancient Lake Bonneville, which suddenly poured into the Snake River about 14,000 years ago. Estimates of the flow during the flood event are as high as 33 million cubic feet per second.
The image to the left of ancient and modern lake levels is from an online class at the University of Utah.