August 2010

It is my great pleasure to introduce the August issue of the OSBR - my first issue as Editor. The editorial theme is Interdisciplinary Lessons.

Culture can be defined as: "This is how we do things." Culture helps establish norms within a discipline and sets the ground rules for getting things done, but it can also stifle creativity and innovation. Great leaps forward often come by chance, through innovation introduced by outsiders who bring a new perspective. In this issue, the authors describe the value of interdisciplinary lessons and approaches. They encourage us to keep our eyes open and look for inspiration in other fields to better meet the challenges we face in our own. Serendipity is nice when it happens, but sometimes we need to make our own luck.

As always, we encourage readers to share articles of interest with their colleagues, and to provide their comments either online or directly to the authors.

The editorial theme for the upcoming September issue of the OSBR is Keystone Companies and submissions are due by August 15th. October's theme is Sales Strategy and submissions are due by September 1st. Please contact me if you are interested in making a submission.

Chris McPhee



Some believe that great advances, discoveries, and innovation result from concentrated efforts within distinct fields. However, progress using this traditional practice has been slowing for some time. The next great discoveries are unlikely to come from further refinements in highly-specialized fields working in isolation. Rather, they will come from creative collaboration between practitioners and researchers from two or more distinct fields, combining their knowledge, theoretical principles, and methodologies in ways never before considered.

I recently had the pleasure of giving a talk at the Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. There I met a vibrant group of researchers and practitioners from diverse fields, including molecular biology, art history, criminology, architecture, English literature, and engineering. I expected to gain insights from one or more of the fields represented at the conference, but I was surprised to find that every presentation I attended yielded valuable interdisciplinary lessons that could be applied to my own field of research.

This issue analyzes lessons from other disciplines to provide a new perspective on the challenges faced by open source communities, practitioners, entrepreneurs, and other participants. The goal is to extract and apply the collective wisdom of a diverse group of authors to help solve relevant problems. The first two articles in this issue provide specific interdisciplinary lessons from diverse fields that are relevant to open source communities. The remaining articles describe projects in which platforms are being developed to promote, encourage, and analyze interdisciplinary work.

Teresa Jewell, author of, recounts lessons from the history of the feminist movement and applies them to the challenges faced by open source communities. She argues that inclusiveness and cohesion are key to successful social movements and that a united approach would strengthen open source communities. A focus on achieving common goals is more likely to promote the development of the open source movement than divisive internal debates.

As author of the second article, I review select lessons from disciplines that are relevant to open source communities. First, lessons from the fashion industry challenge the notion that intellectual property protection, such as copyright, fosters innovation. Second, lessons from the gaming industry are applied to the challenges of community development and business model development in open source communities. Third, I show how lessons from the field of scientometrics can inform efforts to measure the health of open source ecosystems. Finally, I suggest approaches to uncover further lessons in other fields.

Michael Ayukawa and Julie DuPont describe the OpenOttawaLibre project, which is being developed to strengthen Ottawa’s position as a creative city. Michael is the founder of Cornerportal and Julie is a Cultural Planner for the City of Ottawa. They use an interdisciplinary approach to bring together creative industries, businesses, academia, local and global talent, and government to solve existing and emerging problems. They prescribe an ecosystem approach to event organization and facilitation to improve discussion and debate between participants, while breaking down organizational barriers and avoiding polarization.

James Makienko and Leonard De Baets, from Carleton University's Technology Innovation Management program, describe a project to develop a deal development platform for business ecosystems. By extending an open source customer relationship management tool, the platform will track the flow of a deal and the interactions between the players involved at different stages, from the moment a customer submits a problem, through refinement of proposals and prototypes, to completion of the deal. An emphasis on co-creation between customers and suppliers represents a shift from traditional linear development models.

Frank Horsfall, Bloom Founder and Lead, wraps up the issue by describing the Bloom open source project. Bloom is a relationship visualization tool for complex networks and business ecosystems. The article provides an overview of the visualization technology and, using a real-world case study, it shows how the tool can be used to quickly reduce large amounts of data on network connections into understandable, manageable, actionable chunks for decision-makers.

Mekki MacAulay

Guest Editor

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