FACE="Times Roman" SIZE=3 COLOR="red"> Jack Park
Street address
Palo Alto, CA Zip
FACE="Times Roman" SIZE=4 COLOR="black">

Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 12:00:47 -0700

Mr. Rod Welch
The Welch Company
440 Davis Court #1602
San Francisco, CA 94111 2496

FACE="Times Roman" SIZE=5 COLOR="black"> Subject:   FACE="Times Roman" SIZE=4 COLOR="black"> Towards an SDS enterprise


Following up on our lunchtime conversation yesterday, I am including a very rough draft (not even complete yet) of a sketch of a business model that I think could satisfy the open source needs I have expressed.

As I have said to you many times, I cannot take any time (oops, I just did) to think much about any project that is not fully intended to be open source. I personally cannot and will not take time to develop some "core" technology that would be licensed out to the OSS world; we open source jockeys abhor black boxes.

Thus, as I sketched to you and Howard, there could exist an enterprise that supports both proprietary and open source software, ala http://www.lutris.com that supports http://www.lutris.com that supports http://www.enhydra.org.

The attachment is just one suggestion (mine) on how that might be done. I shall bring a couple of printed copies of this paper to hand to selected individuals (e.g. Pat, Cliff, ???) to help get this conversation going.

Please note that I have placed great emphasis on the notion of full disclosure. I have spent some time at your SDS site and have commented that your technology is potentially very useful to the OHS/DKR effort. I would like to employ SDS to the fullest extent that it is now implemented in that project. But, this letter is not simply a ploy to gain access to your technology; I view the technology as greatly valuable (as do you) "out there" in commercial land. Thus, participation in such an enterprise would be of interest to me as well. My criteria for participation, however, remains OSS access. I believe that I have sketched a solid line between the needs of SDS and the needs of OSS.




Jack Park

Copy to:

  1. Joslyn, Cliff

  2. Adam Cheyer

  3. Howard Liu

Towards an SDS Development Enterprise

Author: Jack Park
Date: 25 July 2000
Draft version: 0.1

  1. Intent and Problem

    The intent of this proposal is to sketch a business model by which an organization can be created to implement and promote applications of SDS technology.

    A problem is created when Rod Welch wishes to produce proprietary versions of his SDS system while soliciting consultations with individuals who are committed to Open Source projects.

  2. Proposed Solution

    This document outlines a mechanism by which the SDS Knowledge Management System can be constructed in a proprietary fashion, while satisfying the Open Source requirements of candidate authors on the project.

  3. Solution Mechanism

    1. Introduction

      We propose a business model in which an entity (DotCom) is created, funded with venture capital, supported by contracts, sales, and so forth, and which operates to serve two purposes.

      • Produce and market a commercial, proprietary SDS system.

      • Support an Open Source standard for the File Format of the SDS, to encourage open source SDS implementations. Implement this activity under an open source license that requires disclosure of improvements (including "bug" fixes) to the technology covered by the license. An example license is the Mozilla license http://www.mozilla.org

    2. Arguments

      We present two sides of the "coin" related to the proposed solution. We admit that these arguments are, in all likelihood, not complete, perhaps not even accurate.

      1. Pro

        • Offers a mechanism by which the implementation of an SDS produced by entity can be remain proprietary. Since entity owns the copyrights (and any patents on the technology) to the documentation of and license to the fully disclosed file format, entity can modify the license to suit.

        • Offers a mechanism by which the fully disclosed file format produced by and read by SDS can be duplicated in the open source arena.

        • Since license requires disclosure of improvements to the technology, open source offers the opportunity for added engineering support for the technology at no direct cost to entity.

        • Opens the door to competition by building market awareness of the technology. This can occur as evidenced by the fact that Microsoft retained rights to the OS they supplied to IBM, and once "clean room" BIOS roms were created, the market for IBM technology opened wide.

      2. Con

        • Opens the door to competition, reducing market share for the product created by entity.

    3. Ontology


      A Knowledge Management system as constructed by Rod Welch and colleagues. The SDS may be viewed at http://www.welchco.com The use of the term SDS in this document refers to an implementation created under proprietary environment by entity itself. A baseline metric for use in the definition of SDS used here is the full functionality of the computer program(s) that result in documents available at welchco.com. It is important to note that, from time to time, the functionality of the SDS as represented at the welchco web site may be enhanced or improved. Such enhancements are intended to be included in this definition. However, from time to time, new features may be added to SDS. Those new features are not considered to be a part of the SDS. Therefore, for purposes of the implementation of an entity as expressed here, it is wise to perform an inventory of present SDS functionality.

      File Format

      The key to this proposal. SDS is presumed to work with (e.g. create, read, edit, etc) files that are capable of being stored on a computer disk, serialized and sent to other computers, formatted and displayed, and so forth. This proposal advances the notion that if the file format of SDS is fully disclosed, it will be possible for the open source community to construct implementations of SDS and, thus, advance the SDS state of the art.


      A documents which grants rights and defines responsibilities for Open Source Users of the SDS File Format.

      Open Source User

      Any individual or entity that produces software in accordance with the SDS documents and license.


      A project of the Bootstrap Institute: http://www.bootstrap.org An SDS-like software package is thought to be useful as one component of the OHS/DKR system. Bootstrap Institute would be an instance of Open Source User.


      Extensible Markup Language

      XML Doctype

      A particular Tag that establishes the kind of document being represented.


      A marker within a document. Within XML, tags are paired, meaning that there is a start tag and an end tag. For instance, the tags for the author of a document itself might look like:





      Full Disclosure

      In order to achieve the goal of advancing the state of the art of SDS technology, it is necessary to permit implementations of SDS technology within the open source community. To do so, a File Format is created that will ensure interoperability of all implementations of SDS technology. Full Disclosure means, specifically, that all Tags are fully described. This means that each tag is fully described as to how its content is created and used. For some tags (e.g. *author*), the description is obvious. For others, (e.g. *time* and *subject*), complex relationships may exist; those relationships must be fully disclosed. How those relationships are implemented need not be disclosed.

      Success Criteria

      The lone measure of success intended by this document is that of full interoperability of the SDS system (defined above under SDS) through sharing of files between SDS and implementations generated in the open source community.

  4. How it works

    The proposal is to create an entity (DotCom - e.g. SDS.com) that:

    • Can attract funding through venture capital resources

    • Can attract participation through cooperative relationships with government agencies

    • Creates, manufactures, and sells the SDS product.

  5. Creates, maintains, and distributes documentation on the SDS application programming interface (API), specifically, the specification for a File Format that the SDS produces and consumes.

    1. Relationships

      Composite Commercial and Open Source entity

      Relationship with venture capital

      Entity is intended to be a conventional "dotcom" enterprise that maintains a "dotorg" enterprise in support of the Open Source community. Entity will establish relationships with venture capital organizations. An example of such an entity is http://www.lutris.com which maintains http://www.enhydra.org to support its web server technology.

      Relationship with government research agencies

      Numerous government agencies (e.g. LANL) have programs that are related to SDS technology. For this reason, it is reasonable to assume that relationships in the form of consulting contracts, cooperative research projects, and other kinds will be established in order to move the development of SDS technology forward.

      Relationship with Open Source community

      A relationship with the open source community is desired for purposes of establishing a broad support base for SDS technology. An example of a member of the open source community is the OHS/DKR project, where SDS technology is believed to be of value as one component of a software project of greater ambition than present SDS technology. Indeed, by way of this cooperation, it may be that OHS/DKR technology will find its way back into SDS technology.

    2. File Format

      This proposal advances the notion that, for the open source community to be able to create implementations of SDS technology, it is reasonable to release to that community such information as will enable those implementations. The criteria for success of this venture are associated with full interoperability of open source projects with files created with the SDS product itself.

      This proposal advocates the application of an XML namespace to the construction of a file format. Typically, one thinks, in terms of a "file format", of the so-called flat file, much like a spreadsheet or word processor document. With XML, the file format need not be restricted to flat files, given that XML lends itself well to use in relational database schemas. Thus, the proposed file format does not restrict that way in which SDS documents can be stored or transmitted.

      A significant advantage of an XML format is that, with use of style sheets associated with the XSL (XML Style Language) standard, it is possible to convert an SDS document into any presentation format desired by those who interact with the document. This renders SDS documents available on the web, printed on paper, or available on palm computers.

      An XML doctype (SDSML)

      We propose an XML doctype with the name SDSML. We further propose that an XML DTD be created to support this. Thus, a typical SDS document might look something like this fragment:


      *title>some title*/title>

      *author>Joe Bag'O'Donuts*/author>


      Full disclosure of technology to support all tags

      Full disclosure is discussed above under Ontology. It is intended that there be standardized within SDSML a complete set of tags. Should SDS add tags to the file format from time to time, those tags must become part of the published standard. Let us reiterate a key point on disclosure of technology. It is not intended to disclose the details of any particular code generated internally in the implementation of SDS; rather it is intended that the relationships, including algorithms, formulas, and so forth are, in fact, disclosed. How those relationships, algorithms, or formulas are implemented is left entirely up to the open source community. Criteria of success is measured in level of interoperability between SDS and other implementations.

  6. License

    An Open Source license is the key to the success of any venture implementing this proposal.

    Copyright ownership

    Copyright ownership is owned entirely by entity. This means that any contributions to the technology of SDS will fall under that license; contributions made internally or externally (in the open source community) fall into the meaning of contributions.

    It will be of great importance, in structuring a License, to formulate a precise distinction to those elements of software that constitute a contribution to the SDS technology, and those which simply extend SDS by adding new features. As an example, consider the Bootstrap project - OHS/DKR. This project will likely add numerous features to perform aspects of knowledge management that are outside the present SDS capability. Such extensions should not be considered as part of the SDS license.


    Rights of entity

    Rights of open source users


    Responsibilities of entity

    Responsibilities of open source users