As of half a day ago, Drupal's accepted student projects for the Google Summer of Code 2009 have been announced (and of course, also for the other participating organisations). We selected 18 wicked students with intriguing project proposals, and had a hard time sorting out which ones to take because the number of promising proposals was pretty high this time for Drupal. We still should be able to provide motivated students with mentoring even if they didn't make it to the final list, assuming Google's prize money was not the primary motivation to apply for SoC.
In addition to the official Drupal list, I also noticed a Drupal-related project hosted by Creative Commons. Also, former Drupal SoC alumni Allister Beharry (who worked on DAST in 2007) is now showing up with a project for upstream PHP. Other favorites of mine include the entirety of KDE and X.org projects, as well as my buddy klausi getting accepted for a Drupal/Rules project.
The coolest thing for me personally, though, is the selection of not one but an thrilling number of two awesome projects related to Version Control API: Marco Antonio Villegas Vega (a.k.a. marvil07) will work on internal API improvements and other stuff like SSH key authentication, while Daniel Hackney (a.k.a. chrono325) takes care of better VCS support and Rules integration. Both want to help with the transition of Drupal core to a distributed version control system such as Git, and will be mentored by Tony Narlock (skiquel), Sam Boyer (sdboyer) and of course me. With a little luck, we should be able to avoid the epic failure of last year's project and push Version Control API to the next level.
And of course, pushing it onto drupal.org is still on the plate and will be the first thing for me to work on after I finally submit my thesis in mid May.
Now I'm a member of that hardliner fraction that emphasizes the "Free" aspect of Free Software (or Open Source, whatever), because it empowers users to choose which tools I can use to operate on any given set of data - as long as that data is available at all and follows open standards. I'm delighted that, nowadays, I can run my system on an open kernel with open drivers, get 3D accelleration from an open X Window System, and have it all fall into place with the wonderful KDE 4.1 desktop (shameless plug). It's all software that I can trust, because the Open Source development model guarantees that the code won't be stripped of crucial features or spiced up with indiscrete phone-home functionality and advertisements. I know that I'll be able to swap applications while still keeping all the important data, and I know that if something goes wrong, everything will still be alright in the end.
With a tad of worry, I watch the trend of people giving away lots and lots of personal data to the web, in exchange for comfort or reliability. Mails keep being stored by GMail or other mail providers with fancy web interfaces, pulling them away and on one's own system with POP3 is a dying practice. Life is being captured in Blogger, Facebook and Twitter. If I want to browse through my friends' photo albums, I need to register on StudiVZ (German Facebook rip-off) because that's where they store them. Those services are provided by people who I do not trust to do the right thing, because even if the web sites run Free Software, the way it works does not guarantee that my data is safe and my interests are being followed - it might just not match the business model of the web site providers.
If you think that sounds like a lot of paranoia, you're probably right. Still, the point that I'd like to make is that we had all of this before: the user depending on proprietary software that controls what happens to the data, and thus creating vendor lock-in - which is a network effect, and causes more people to use the same software. As the desktop is slowly being freed from lock-in, the exact same thing is now being shifted onto the net. Instead of having to trust Microsoft for their office data, people now have to trust Facebook for their social online life. The only difference is that MS Office costs lots of money while Facebook is free (as in beer), because of their business model.
As of today, the web is not open. The GPL is the new BSD, and the web is the new freeware (not to be confused with Free Software). In order to let users keep the freedom that is now available (and usable) on the desktop, open source web software must work on decentralizing the web. Users should be able to keep their own web presence like they keep their desktop system: personal, trusted and only passing data around when that is desired. It shouldn't be necessary to have a single huge web site where the data of all different users comes together; instead, users would have their own data store that, for example, sends out twitter updates to the data stores of all the intended receivers. Instead of a central site that's in charge of everything, lots of small sites would communicate with each other, and the user would be in control of the data.
If the web replaces the desktop, it should be judged by the same criteria, and that goes not only for bling and usability but also for openness. Personally, I think that centralized, data-centric web applications are the biggest threat for openness and self-determined choice of client software since MS Office came around, and Google is doing well covering that issue by supporting Open Source where it doesn't hurt their main strategy. But at least they're being honest about it and try to do it nicely: I'm still a big fan of the Summer of Code and GHOP programs :P
In other news, both my Japan/India trip and Drupalcon were a blast, and I'm finally going into stealth mode now. See you later!
Der Google Summer of Code geht wieder los. Diesmal allerdings ohne mich (zumindest bin ich nicht als Student dabei), primär weil ich den ganzen Juli für einen Drei-Länder-Trip eingeplant hab. Nächste Woche wird das dann genauer ausgearbeitet, oder so.
Nichtsdestotrotz verspricht es, sowohl für Drupal als auch für KDE und überhaupt sonst auch wieder ziemlich interessant zu werden. Vielleicht kann ich sonst irgendwie aushelfen und motivierten Studenten unter die Arme greifen (hab mich jetzt für Drupal als möglicher Zweit-Mentor angeboten), jedenfalls bin ich gespannt was dieses Mal rauskommt. Traditionellerweise sind ja nur ein kleiner Teil der angefangenen Projekte tatsächlich von Nutzen für die Open-Source-Projekte, das Spannende ist also, wie viele der angekündigten Großtaten sich diesmal zu einer wertvollen Spende an die Community entwickeln werden.
Ansonsten, ja, ehm, frohe Ostern!
Also, das Semester hat angefangen, und trotz der vielfältigen Deadlines überall (meinen ersten Arbeitstag als Drupal-Entwickler hab ich schon hinter mir, und es scheint meine Übungsgruppen würden mich diesmal ganz gut unterstützen) muss ich mir heute wieder mal Zeit nehmen, um Neuigkeiten zu verbreiten:
Genau, San Francisco wird die weltweit erste Stadt mit omnipräsenter Gratis-WLAN-Versorgung. Earthlink baut das Netz auf und Google sponsert es. Bin gespannt, wann die Stadt Wien anfängt, Funkfeuer zu subventionieren. Aber das ist eine andere Geschichte.
Ich nehme an, ihr habt schon mal von Second Life gehört? Eine realistischere Version von "Die Sims", welche gerade einen unheimlichen Hype und weißichwieviele Neuhinzukömmlinge in die ach so interessante Alternativwelt hat? Jedenfalls, deren Schöpfer Linden Labs scheinen determiniert zu sein, die Software hinter ihrem virtuellen Universum open zu sourcen, und gestern haben sie mal mit dem Client angefangen, also dem Programm, das auf dem eigenen Computer lauft, die Welt anzeigt und die eigenen Aktionen steuert.
Mit der Serversoftware wollen sie das Gleiche machen, aber die Vorbereitungen dafür (der freigegebene Quellcode soll immerhin auf Sicherheit und Verständlichkeit geprüft sein) können noch dauern.
Bis dahin ist mir Second Life trotzdem noch genau so suspekt wie andere Online-Zeitverschwender wie z.B. World of Warcraft oder Real-Life-Simulatoren wie die Sims. Aber hey, soll ja Leute geben, die wollen tatsächlich das stinknormale Leben am Computer wiederholen...