Importance of the Tools in Innovative Environment

In previous blog posts I have been writing about openness, sharing and collaboration which are the basis for innovative environment. When people are physically in same place openness, sharing and collaboration happens in every day activities. People tend to socialize with colleagues, family and friends and they share their thoughts, opinions and comments.

When we come back to “virtual community” where people are spread all around the globe we need tools for collaboration. Everybody are familiar with different wikis, blogs, discussion boards and issue/task management systems which are basic collaborative tools. They enable sharing ideas, collaboration and increase openness. I think these tools are in place in Symbian community and they are quite well adopted by members. There are lots of entries in Wiki, lively discussions about technology in discussion forums where developers participate. I was thinking how Symbian Foundation could encourage members of the community to collaborate more in development activities?

Project Infrastructure

Now when Symbian Foundation offers basic infrastructure for distributing information by wikis and discussion forums we could extend “the single source of information” to Symbian related projects. I was thinking about idea that in addition to basic communication infra Symbian could offer infrastructure for “incubation project”. The Project Infrastructure could contain version control services and information sharing services.

In practice if I wanted to initiate project which goal is to develop application for Symbian, I just create project and after that I have “project space”. Project space could contain version control for source code and “landing pages” where contributors could get information about tools, practices and so forth.

A good example is Eclipse.org and its list of projects. The list of project could be visible for everybody and developers could easily find interesting project where to start contributing. Also list of project could be a good source of new ideas for OEMs and other members in the community. In addition to that they could also sponsor the development of interesting applications.

My point is that if developer wants to start developing own application with the community, it must be easy. This would also boost innovativeness in the community.

Collaborative IDE

How to boost collaboration in developing software? Mozilla Labs has very interesting project called Bespin which is collaborative development environment for web programming. I was wondering if this kind of approach could be useful also in Symbian development (in future)? I like the idea of development environment that is in “cloud” and I could easily start developing software without extra hassle. I just open web browser, log into my “project space” and start developing code in collaboration with other project members. In theory the collaborative IDE would offer “virtual pair programming environment” where developers could see written code in real time and give instant feedback, comments, opinions etc.

Of course there are obstacles before this kind of approach would be possible including device access, testing, etc. but I think that we need to think future possibilities too.

But that is something I was thinking recently.

chipmunck controller

Importance of Communication

A while ago I found Lars Kurth’s presentation from Package Owner workshop held in Finland. The presentation itself was very interesting and it has very good points how to get people to participate. As I mentioned previous posts that openness, sharing and collaboration are in major role when “creating environment that permits innovation” Lars has very good points how to enable this around the package.

One thing that came up from Lars’s presentation was importance of communication. There are different aspects where communication is very important. Lars pointed out that package owners must communicate very actively to get community involved around the package. Package owners must be very active communicators and they need to use and follow different communication channels like mailing lists, forums, blogs, wikis, Bugzilla, you name it.

Communication is important when promoting package and getting contribution to it. The same comes with my ambitious task: I must promote this activity in different channels. I write this blog, I have used different forums and wikis. I have not been doing this long time and I can say that getting contributions from others is very big challenge. That’s why I was wondering if Lars’s example would help me in my challenging task. If I follow steps from Lars’s presentation and do the following things:

  1. Be present and responsive: Wiki pages for “Innovative environment and its enablers”, own mailing lists and discussion forum.
  2. Evangelizing about “innovative environment enablers”: Creating “buzz”, this blog and other online medias like Twitter and other social media services.
  3. Actively recruiting contributors: positions open for people who has experience in building innovative communities 🙂

What do you think? Would these actions work also in other areas in open source communities?

That’s all from this time. Happy and collaborative new year 2010!

Cheers!

symbian_speedy_mug

Learning Symbian Foundation

My previous blog post was a historical because it received two comments from its readers. Both comments were excellent and I decided to write blog post inspired by them. This is how collaboration works I wrote something and received comments and comments inspired me to write more. So here we go again 🙂

New Form of Collaboration

Symbian Ecosystem has been long time quite closed and everything related to Symbian was very confidential. Everybody who was working with Symbian/S60 code had to write NDAs to get access to source code. NDAs usually limits information changing and now those who have been taught to this model are amazed. What this mean, what open source mean, how this changes the game?

It changes a lot and everybody needs to understand the rules of open source, obey the community rules, start to play with community rules. I think that this is challenge also for those big multi-national corporations, that Slinky mentioned in his/her comment. They must also start to think differently and it takes time, everybody are learning how to play with new “open source rules” in Symbian Foundation.

What comes to “crowdsourcing” and challenges that can be solved by the crowd. It is also new thing in this ecosystem and if Symbian Foundation has same kind of service like InnoCentive. I would say that InnoCentive-kind of model would work also in Symbian Foundation. There are rules how “solvers” are rewarded if they have posted solution to the challenge.My opinion is that InnoCentive won’t be so popular if solvers won’t get paid. But still GOS has a point with time-to-market and “software is ready when it is ready”. I need to think this further 🙂

Attractiveness of Symbian Foundation

GOS mentioned in his/her comment Mozilla and Linux communities where contributors are very enthusiastic about the projects. I agree that Symbian Foundation may not be in that position but I bet that there are people who are enthusiastic about Symbian and they have will to develop it further. But it might be true that there is room for improvement in area of attractiveness of Symbian Foundation.

I bet that there are interesting projects in Symbian Foundation and its packages. The only impediment is that developers may not know where those interesting projects are located. That’s why I am thinking that Package Owners could spread more word, create buzz around package and try to gather contributions to own packages. I have read somewhere that only interesting projects will live in open source world.

Proper Open Source Community

Slinky pointed in his comment that Symbian Foundation is not yet proper open source community. Well, if we compare Symbian Foundation to Linux or Mozilla, they have decade long lead over Symbian Foundation. As mentioned earlier they may had challenges in starting the community and hopefully Symbian Foundation can learn from their mistakes. Symbian was not born in open source community but we can raise Symbian Foundation to well-bred open source community. It will not happen in one year it may take another year too. Fortunately we have those big multi-national companies that supports community and collaborate to make Symbian Foundation even better 🙂

That’s all from this week!

Ideas from Symbian Ideas

 

In the previous post I was writing about openness, collaboration and sharing. I also mentioned ideas.symbian.org, the place where community members can exchange ideas. I looked closer what is going on at ideas.symbian.org and what kind of ideas are there and how they may support in creation of “nimble environment that permits innovation”.

Ideas that Support Collaboration

Sophie Yim has posted idea about Starting and running a Symbian development IRC-channel. The real-time communication with community members would help community members to share ideas, ask questions regarding to software development challenges and not to forget other topics that are related to Symbian Foundation.

Emre Can has posted idea about “crowdsourcing” and how community could give valuable feedback. I think that “crowdsourcing” is good example of collaboration and this idea can be refined forward. We can take wider look to “crowdsourcing” and how Symbian Foundation members can utilize it.

For example some member company has a challenge and they publish challenge to community. Some community members start solving the challenge and after they have solution they submit solution to company who requested help. Company rewards winning solution and they can profit from it. In theory this should be win-win situation where company and solution provider profit.

Ideas that support Openness and Sharing

Ideas.symbian.org itself is good example of openness and sharing. Community members are openly sharing their ideas and hopefully we have momentum to implement the best ideas.

Mike Kinghan has posted idea about build and test results portal where developers can see the status of platform builds and tests. This is example of openness and how community members can access to this data. I am not sure how much this is overlapping with Quality WG’s activities and Quality dashboard they created.

symbian_ideas

This idea have not been posted yet to ideas.symbian.org and it is related to sharing, collaboration and openness. There are currently services like yet2.com, NineSigma and InnoCentive where companies open their product development challenges and utilize talent outside their company borders. They seek solutions from on-line communities, like services listed above.

If companies get solutions from the community they reward the people behind the solution. I was thinking that this would also work in Symbian Foundation where members could seek solutions to their R&D challenges. I must post the idea to ideas.symbian.org and see if it gets support 🙂

 

That’s all from this week, let’s keep in touch!

Symbian Foundation: Creating Nimble Environment That Permits Innovation

Introduction

My name is Petri Poikolainen and I am currently working in Finnish information and community technology company called Digia. My work relates closely to Symbian development and I am currently Digia’s representative in Symbian Foundation’s Release Council. If you like to hear more about Digia or my work in Release Council you can find my contact information from the About the Blogger section.

“Create Nimble Environment that Permits Innovation…”

…is the name of the task that I volunteered in the last Release Council Workshop in London. The workshop topic was “How will Symbian OSS change the way mobile phones are delivered in the future?” and almost all release council members were present. We had great time finding out the most important topics which were: Innovation, Cost & Speed, Biz Models, Visibility and Collaboration. Under the most important topics we defined (almost) concrete actions that are implemented by the community members.

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So, why am I writing this blog article? I am writing this because the action, that I volunteered, is so broad and I cannot implemented it by myself. I need all help that is available and I try to inspire other community members to think what innovative environment in Symbian Foundation means for different stakeholders? I would like to hear opinions and views from different stakeholders: developers, package owners, member companies, council members, code contributors and so forth. All comments and ideas are welcome, they are contributions to Symbian Foundation community 🙂

If everything goes like in the movies we will have lots of good ideas which narrow the broad scope. We will identify the most important factors that creates nimble environment for innovation. After this we might be ready to create more concrete actions that are related e.g. to tools that enables innovation, methods or processes, the best practices and so forth.

What Enables Innovative environment?

I like to share my opinions about innovative environment enablers. I think that the most important enablers are openness, collaboration and sharing. I am sure that there are more important enablers and if you notice that something is missing, please collaborate and share your opinion with others 🙂

Openness, Collaboration and Sharing

Symbian Foundation has been acting openly since its beginning and this is a right track. How we can act openly by ourselves in Symbian Foundation? If we start to work openly in community it would help to boost up innovation and every member can tap the innovation potential of the community. Ideas.symbian.org is good example from openness from ideas point of view. Somebody shares idea and if the idea is interesting it gets comments and the original idea may get even better.

Innovation does not usually happen by single person sitting on the coach watching the famous sitcom (good ideas may arouse during watching the TV :). My belief is that innovation happens when collaborate and share ideas, comments, views, solution proposals. The collaboration is also one key for successful community. If we don’t collaborate and we trust only on heroic efforts of individuals it won’t last forever.symbian_idea_toaster

Without sharing we cannot create environment that permits innovation. Everybody must share something: views, opinions, ideas, comments, code and so forth. Sharing builds the community spirit, accelerate discovery, spur the innovation in the community. You are what you share.

All members can benefit if start to build “nimble environment that permits innovation”. Developers can share their ideas and ask help for certain coding challenges, they can help others who are struggling with the development. Member companies can tap the innovativeness of community in their own R&D activities: there are always talented people outside the company borders. Package owners can direct the community being open and collaborate with community inspiring them to contribute for the common good.

What next?

As said earlier this is very broad topic and I need your help to understand what “nimble environment that permits innovation” means to different stakeholders: developers, package owners, member companies, council members, platform contributors and device creators? I have opened discussion thread in Symbian Foundation Forum where we can discuss more about this topic. Of course you can comment this blog post directly and share comments immediately. I will use comments and discussions to narrow the scope and try to find the most important things that are refined forward. I believe that in some point we will have concrete and doable actions which drive the Symbian Foundation community to more innovative community.

Thank you for reading this post!

Further Reading:

  1. Wikinomics – How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott & Anhtony D. Williams
  2. We-think: Mass Innovation, Not mass production by Charles Leadbeater