TechRepublic goes Open Source...kinda, sorta, maybe

Yeah, the title is catchy, isn't it? And all you Power To The Penguin

types are grinning and giggling and dreaming feverishly at the

possibilities, but before I get anyone too worked up by my explanation,

I need to make one thing diamond-crystal clear: This is all hypothetical. That said, on with the show...

So the VP caste of CNET has handed down a new set of priorities which,

fortunately for you all, includes the directive that we finally address

all the frayed edges of TechRepublic that have driven us crazy for the last, oh, 3-5 years. I drew the short straw, so I'm working up the laundry list of problems. Jaqui,

vocal and devoted member that he is, decided to take it one step

further (too far?) and wanted to know if we couldn't sponsor a

medium-is-the-message open source project, where users code an

"idealized" prototype of a new TR, demonstrating exactly what it is

they want from us.

And I'm trying to call his bluff. (Remember: hypothetical.)

If I can get some of the higher-ups to sign off (a freakin' huge if), I'll conjure up some Wiki space and Jaqui's merry band of volunteers

can work with me and mine to set up a design spec for the "perfect"

TechRepublic. Once the spec is finalized, Team Open Source can go about

coding a proof-of-concept prototype, if only to give our internal

engineers a working model to consider in their own designs.

Personally, I can't see this project getting past the spec phase

(assuming I'm allowed to take it even that far). I'm pretty convinced

that once you guys begin to understand just how formiddable our data

replication, redundancy, scaling, ad-serve compliance, and network

registration specs really are, you'll run screaming into the night

before nary a function is coded. (And no, we are not going to let you

behind the firewall to grab our confidential data, either. That's a

security and legal liability nightmare waiting to happen, which is why

we don't have an open API.)

I'd love to be proven wrong, however. I'm ecstatic that we have a user

base interested enough in improving the product that this is even a

consideration. And the spec document alone should be a fun exercise, if

only to scare the crap out of you people. My ultimate dream is to get

an awesome spec doc, and then run a parallel dev challenge between the

external group and our own internal dev team, winner take all. If

anybody (still) wants to sign up

for the project, post to this discussion. We can use all the help we can get!