“Over time, we’ll get more data, more powerful computers, and better predictive algorithms. We’ll also do better at helping group-level (as opposed to individual) decision making, since many organizations require consensus for important decisions. This means that the ‘market share’ of computer automated or mediated decisions should go up, and intuition’s market share should go down.”
– Andrew McAfee, The Future of Decision Making: Less Intuition, More Evidence
In years past, sifting winners from losers from the previous calendar year was an exercise in intuition, relying entirely on the experience of the individual and their personal recollections of twelve months’ worth of events. Unsurprisingly, then, the quality of these recollections showed a high degree of variance, as recall is an inconsistent skillset and even assuming a perfect memory, questions of personal bias arise.
Today, however, we increasingly live in a world that’s driven by data rather than intuition. Judgment still has its place, but it must be informed, if not governed, by facts, not opinions.
It was in this context that yesterday Black Duck announced its 2011 Open Source Rookies, a list of the year’s top new open source projects. Leveraging quantitative data from the Black Duck KnowledgeBase and Ohloh.net, metrics included “commit activity (commits per day), size of the project team and the number of in-bound links to the project.” The value of these measurements cannot be overstated, reflecting as they do actual project and therefore developer behavior. Instead of relying on surveys or estimates developer engagement, it is directly observed and captured.
The implication here is clear: this is a list created by developers rather than Black Duck or any other third party. Because of this, the implications become more significant. The presence of projects such as Orion signals an interest in online development and editing, the traction for Cloud Foundry, OpenShift and OpenStack an escalating interest in cloud. But most importantly, the surfacing of projects such as Canvas, Rudder and Salt that haven’t yet enjoyed the limelight is an opportunity to make the developer’s voice heard.
As a continuation of the trend towards evidence based decision making, the Open Source Rookies program is worth watching, and for what it can tell us about the projects to watch moving forward, it’s worth watching closely.