[Koha] LibLime Thoughts

MJ Ray mjr at phonecoop.coop
Fri Apr 30 21:23:06 NZST 2010

Kelly Sherman <ksherman at ptfs.com> wrote:
> LibLime (a division of PTFS) is disappointed to learn that the HLT Koha
> Committee has chosen to cancel our scheduled conference call.  [...]

is another view of that which doesn't completely agree with the above
interpretation, in case anyone hasn't seen that yet.

> We are asking for participants from Koha libraries that may
> want to partner with us to maintain documentation, design new development
> features, catalog bug issues, and promote Koha successes world-wide. [...]

As a worker-owner of for-service Koha user/vendor software.coop, I
feel it's not credible for one private-sector Koha vendor to try to
call itself an alternative to a not-for-profit community structure
hosted by Koha's parent library trust and supported by most other Koha
vendors and a lot of users.

If anyone wants to donate to LibLime's single-entity effort, please
do, but make sure that your contributions are available for the whole
community to use.

The danger is that contibutions will be limited to LL/PTFS due to
unclear or missing licensing, or stuck in systems that don't export
their data easily.  Some users have spent over a year working to
recover some documentation from unclear licensing in a
poorly-structured LL-hosted system and I would be very happy if the
Koha community never needed to do that again.

I feel it would be better to take part in the main project to maintain
documentation, design Koha, track bugs and promote successes (email
me, Chris, your vendor or the list if you want a hand getting
started), but everyone should be free to make their own decision.

If you're undecided, please try taking part in the online meetings, at
the conferences and generally in the community.

If you're decided, please choose to work with good community
participants (compare http://koha-community.org/support/paid-support/
with those whose owners appear on the lists, as a rough guide) and
avoid cuckoo companies who try to replace the community effort.

> LibLime wants to assume the best and understands that the HLT Committee is
> new to business matters, acquisitions, and financial transactions on the
> scale required to move the Koha project to the next level.   Perhaps the
> newness of these experiences has resulted in their one-sided point of view;
> their conflicting and inaccurate web posts; and their decision to
> participate in a conference call, only to decline it the next day.

I really don't get this.  How is it assuming the best to insult them
as newbies?  The HLT Committee contains members from companies which
are as old as PTFS and three times as old as LibLime.

I suspect the problem is that PTFS is new at working with structured
community companies and tried to bounce it like it was a US
corporation.  For example, asking a civil society group to sign a
non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is highly unusual.  It is almost never
in the community interest to sign them, so community companies and
trusts very rarely do.  NDAs hinder reporting and oversight.

NDAs also have a particularly notorious place in the free software
story.  See the first section of http://mjr.towers.org.uk/writing/fss
which are (buggy) notes from a talk I gave in 2003.  That's FOSS 101.

I think it shows the HLT Koha Committee's business wisdom that they
realised that a conference call in the early morning is not a good way
to start negotiating an international acquisition.

Oh and the HLT Koha Committee also contains former LibLime Vice-Presidents.
So once upon a time, LibLime didn't think they were so inexperienced.
Which LibLime should the community believe?  The old Metavore-owned
one or the new PTFS-owned one?  Owner changed: all change please!

> We will support Koha through the koha.org website and we will continue to
> work towards our goal of developing and deploying a true next generation
> system that manages both print and digital collections in a single
> application.

Firstly, please don't continue confusing people with the fork of an
old version which doesn't allow users to touch the source code or base
configuration.  Do the decent thing and rename at least.

Secondly, a merger with Archivalware?  Great, that'll become GPL and
sooner or later users will share it.

But Koha has nothing to fear: managing the collections is possible in
Koha already and has been for a long time: software.coop got started
with Koha for a library that used it to track video kit, back in 2003.

Managing the digital items themsleves is a different problem and
attempting to merge that into Koha seems like a mistake to me.  The
buzz about LMS 2.0 is about smaller specialist components that
cooperate, not about making new monoliths.

Hope that helps,
MJ Ray (slef)  Webmaster and LMS developer at     | software
www.software.coop http://mjr.towers.org.uk        |  .... co
IMO only: see http://mjr.towers.org.uk/email.html |  .... op

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