This past week, NASA hosted it’s first Open Source Summit at Ames Research Center. The event was an overwhelming success and it really set the stage for the future of Open Source at NASA. If you didn’t have a chance to attend, the event brought together engineers and policy makers across NASA and respected members of the open source community to discuss the challenges with the existing open source policy framework, and propose modifications that would make it easier for NASA to develop, release, and use open source software. The summit was an attempt at something new and revolutionary - we reached out to the public and actively involved them in a critical conversation related to NASA’s mission.
The event brought together over 700 registered participants, 545 of them who participated online.We were honored to have top minds in Open Source at the event including:
- Pascal Finette, Director of Mozilla Labs
- Dr. Robert Sutor, Vice President of Open Systems at IBM
- Chris Wanstrath, CEO and co-founder of Github
- Brian Stevens, CTO and Vice President of Worldwide Engineering at Red Hat
- David Wheeler, Institute for Defense Analysis/DoD
- Linda Cureton, CIO for NASA
- Terry Fong, Director of NASA Ames Research Center’s Intelligent Robotics Group
- Patrick Hogan, NASA World Wind
We witnessed the beneficial interaction of physical and virtual participants coming together and engaging in very productive debates and brainstorming solutions to our mostpressing challenges. This diverse community had multiple ways to join the conversation: watch the live feed via Ustream, comment through chat, join breakout discussions via Maestro audio conference, and submit feedback on Google docs to shape the policy discussions. More than 47 topics were suggested for discussion with more than 638 votes cast. The topmost challenges were discussed and debated in further detail, producing more than 66 substantivesolutions in response to those barriers.
The event also had a large public reach. Within the last 24 hours, twitter alone generated 3,199,713 impressions reaching an audience of 1,190,435 followers. There were over 1,200 tweets tracking the many discussions and extending the conversation even further into the public sphere.
Open source brings numerous benefits to NASA software projects, including increased software quality, reduced development costs, faster development cycles, and reduced barriers to public-private collaboration through new opportunities to commercialize NASA technology. This inherently transparent, participatory, and collaborative approach is revolutionizing the way software is created, improved, and used. Although open source release has already provided numerous benefits to NASA, the full benefits of open source can only be realized if NASA is able to establish the processes, policies, and culture needed to encourage and support open source development. This will require expanding open source activities beyond releasing software only after completion and finding new ways to support two-way collaboration with an open development community throughout the entire software lifecycle.