O’Reilly and Open Source

O’Reilly & Associates is just starting an open, online
discussion on open documents. If you like the idea of the forum
(see my “seed” posting below) go to:


and just start clicking; the procedure should be pretty easy to
figure out.

The groundswell of Open Source, or free software, technologies has
created a sea change in commercial book publishing. Several
publishers, including O’Reilly & Associates, have started
offering books under various open-content licenses so that they can
be freely displayed on Internet sites, distributed with software on
CD-ROMs, taken apart to be used for course handouts, and in some
cases printed by other people besides the original publisher. As
revolutionary for the publishing industry as this distribution
mechanism is, some projects go even further to work directly with
the developers of Open Source projects. We are likely to see the
integration of professionally edited and produced documentation
into the model of Open Source development over the next few years.

Having recently finished one project myself under an
open-content license — Using Samba — and having started work on
several other such projects, I’d like to invite all interested
persons to a discussion on how the Open Source community and
professional publishers can

  1. Involve developers of open source software more directly in the
    development of high-quality guides and other professionally-edited
  2. Find the development models for open documents that work well
    with the successful models used for open-source software.

There are many angles to consider — quality control,
Internet-time release schedules, the big-picture thinking required
to keep the book’s balance and structure strong during updates,
risks and benefits of forking, adequate compensation for writers
and publishers, dealing with the natural tendency to want to hide
work in progress with competitive publishers — so take your pick
and give us a thoughtful post!

Andy Oram, Editor
O’Reilly & Associates, Inc.
90 Sherman Street
Cambridge, MA 02140-3233
email: [email protected]
phone: (617) 499-7479
fax: (617) 661-1116

Related Story:
O’Reilly Hosts Web Conference On Open Source Publishing
03, 2000)