16 Mar 2001 Cardinal   » (Journeyer)

Doesn't that just figure. An article appears which I'd like to reply to, so naturally my apprentice certification vanishes before I can get to it. Oh well, it's all transitory. Begin random musings.

cvs commit -m "Why am I here?" ./ChangeLog

My ill-fated reply wasn't so much to jtauber's article as it was to ftobin's first reply that mentioned cvs2cl. I'm not sure mapping a CVS log directly to a ChangeLog is the right thing to do. The cvs2cl page has a link to some writing on CVS Logs and ChangeLogs that addresses the relationship between the two logging systems towards the bottom, in the paragraph headed "ChangeLogs and the CVS log".

His reasons are mostly semantics, though, and I imagine cvs2cl can address those concerns (Namely the first bullet point, the difficulty to sort log entries by date). The underlying issue I see, though, is audience. What generally goes into CVS logs isn't what should go into a ChangeLog, imho. ChangeLogs are higher level than CVS logs. The folks that read them aren't interested in what code fragment changed or that a typo was corrected in a header file comment. Yet these sorts of messages will end up in the CVS log as a matter of course. After all, that's what it's for. The CVS log describes the sequence of changes to the code. Instead, the ChangeLog should be a narrative of general changes. Features added or modified, problems addressed (Including bug #'s if a bug tracker is present) and the like. So. I would argue for maintaining a ChangeLog, rather than relying on the CVS logs to be useful to the public at large.

OSS Project Organization and/or Politics

I had an interesting conversation earlier tonight that spanned a host of topics, one of which was the scalability of the development tribe. For a nominally sized group of developers, there's little need for a structure of control over the project. Development can progress by virtue of each developer doing his or her thing, and discussion and peer review keeping the project aiming in a fairly consistent direction. However, take that group and double it a couple times over, and that falls apart. Some controls are needed, and in many projects we can catagorize them as benevolent dictatorships or as commonwealths. Both can work, but there's a third model that I think can work better than both, which is a commonwealth, but with some people being more equal than others.

The horror! In a given project, the votes of all contributing individuals must be equal, right? Well, not necessarily. What happens when an individual is completely off his rocker, and his vote or influence puts the well-being of the project at risk? Surely it would be clear to a the majority that said individual is indeed inviting trouble, but what if it wasn't so clear? A core group needs to have some veto power, especially in a large project. Smaller projects can cope with dissent, but in a large setting the problem can grow more difficult to manage.

So, how far do these various models scale? Linux has been the subject of criticism before for Linus being a benevolent dictator, but it certainly seems to be working. And even then, he has his core group to which he's delegated much responsibility. So I'd say that model scales fairly well. How about the others?

GNU Lobby?

Don't like the DMCA? No, I imagine not. Lots of people don't. But the Internet is leaving the hands of geeks and techs and entering the eager clutches of business and its lawyers. Sure, we have our advocates, and while we could always use a couple more solid representatives, what it seems we really lack is the legal power. The EFF and FSF make an admirable effort to defend liberty from the onslaught of corporate interests, but the sad truth is those big businesses have a lot more lobbyists than we do, and when it comes to the laws that threaten to shape our net, that's all that matters. So wouldn't it be nice if the community at large could get a strong support group of lawyer and lobbyist types to help in the fight? It seems that way to me, at least.. At 1:41 am.. Maybe I'll have something more thought-out in in the afternoon. End random musings.

It's the year 3030.. And here at the Corporate Institutional Bank of Time, we find ourselves.. reflecting.. Finding out, that in fact, we came back. We were always coming back.

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