It seems as if a few emails from this list did not make it into the archive
because of an error in the import. This is no big deal; those emails
weren't that important.
But I thought it would be a good opportunity to send a reminder about why
we use mailing lists with public archives.
The reason is that this is important for handling community growth. Our
archival record is what will make it easier for new contributors to get
involved and get an understanding of the history of the project. Please see
Karl Fogel as a reference
It's my pleasure to share with you this draft of the BigBang Governance
I hope it's also self-explanatory as possible. Please don't hesitate to
raise any questions and concerns about it. I encourage you to review the
references in the Precedent section for more information about where
particular policies have come from.
I expect that other forms of self-regulation will come up over time. For
example, details of how we do code review or manage a release cycle. I
think these decisions can be deferred and left off the bylaws for now, and
documented later as guidelines.
I have just changed the software license of BigBang from GPLv2 to AGPL-3.0.
Soon, I won't have the ability to make such a decision unilaterally. This
sort of decision will only be made by community agreement. You may all soon
decide to reverse this decision and if so I won't block the change.
However, I wanted to "nudge" the project in this way and explain my
When we started the BigBang project years ago, we had to address the
question of software licensing. For Free Software principles, I wanted to
copyleft the software. This got push back from some potential contributors
in industry and people interested in partnering with the project
In the end I decided to stay with the GPL license because of a project
mission that is related to Free Software: the educational mission of open
and reproducible research. One reason to build BigBang is to create a
platform for data science education that is available to everybody. Open
data from the projects that around foundational to the Internet, including
standards and protocols, as well as software, are part of the historical
record of how our world has become what it is. As much as any legal or
cultural history, an understanding of this technical history is essential
to our competence as world citizens. It is our shared inheritance. BigBang
is designed to make this technical history available to scholars and
students in the interest of an informed digital citizenry.
The GNU copyleft philosophy is aligned with this educational mission. My
hope is that as contributors to BigBang, we will be conscious of our work
being a contribution to global, civil, and collective self-understanding.
This self-understanding cannot be proprietary; it must be held in common.
GNU licenses prevent "forks" or downstream development work on the project
from being incorporated into proprietary systems. This will give us peace
of mind: our work will be harder to coopt for the kind of private interests
that would make our civil understanding of technology even more difficult.
We met an obstacle early on in committing to these goals through our
software license. This project began at UC Berkeley. And while Berkeley has
a long history of contributions to open source software, we discovered that
it was not an environment compatible with Free Software principles. I have
to give Nick Doty tremendous credit for his patient navigation of
Berkeley's bureaucracy to get an answer to some questions about
intellectual property. Among his findings were that Berkeley permits use of
GPLv2, but forbids use of GPLv3. This is most likely because Berkeley would
like to reserve the right to patent software created by its students, even
if that software is originally licensed open source.
Therefore one of the motivations for moving the BigBang project to
DATACTIVE infrastructure is to position the software as a project of the
University of Amsterdam, rather than of UC Berkeley. I have to ask our
contributors from UvA to follow up on this point. But my hunch is that UvA
is less aggressive about defending its privilege of software patenting than
As the likelihood of Berkeley making any claim to patent contributions to
BigBang is in fact quite low, I must admit that this change in licensing
and the timing of it is perhaps as much a symbolic gesture than a
substantive one. Putting the project under the auspices of DATACTIVE is in
more ways than one a commitment of this project to the public interest. It
may even be a way of steering the project towards a more European vision of
the public interest than a Californian one. All these questions will
ultimately be up to the community to decide.
Thanks for your patience with this long email. More information about GNU
licenses can be found here:
As part of our transfer of the project over to Datactive, the official
website of the project has now changed. It's URL is:
This website can be edited by editing the Jekyll templates of this branch
of the git repository:
More info here: https://pages.github.com/
You will note that many of the links on this website are now *broken*,
since they point erroneously to the sbenthall/bigbang project.
These links have to be fixed as part of this ticket:
Is there anyone willing to take on this issue of updating the website?
*p.s. I've been copying the NOW DEPRECATED bigbang-dev(a)lists.sudoroom.org
<bigbang-dev(a)lists.sudoroom.org> on these changes, because I haven't wanted
to lose anybody in this period of rapid transition. However, soon I will
not send any more updates to the old list. If you are interested in
participating in BigBang development and have not already done so, please
This is an *important* update regarding BigBang.
We are in the process of *transfering* the GitHub project to a new
location. This means we are moving the issues, milestones, and wiki of the
project. This is in order to facilitate moving the project infrastructure
into a place where it can be managed by the community. (Big thanks to
Harsh Gupta for suggesting this!)
The project currently located at :
will be moved to the new location:
Because there is already a *fork* of bigbang in the *datactive*
organization, this is a little tricky. I will be *deleting the fork* so
that there's no conflict when I *transfer the project*.
In preparation for this, I have copied the issues from datactive/bigbang to
sbenthall/bigbang, so that history is preserved.
I'll be doing these steps momentarily. This email is to make it clear what
I'm doing so nobody is surprised.
I'm excited to announce that we are officially changing our mailing list
To stay involved in the BigBang project, please subscribe to this mailing
This change is the first in several that mark the transition of core
BigBang infrastructure into the stewardship of the DATACTIVE
<https://data-activism.net/> research collective, and the expansion of our
community. Big thanks to Niels for setting up these lists.
The archives from the old lists have been transferred to the new Mailman
instance, hosted by GreenHost. Thanks to Sudo Room (Max, cc'ed) for setting
up the original lists.