[Numpy-discussion] Future of numpy (was: DARPA funding for Blaze and passing the NumPy torch)

Matthew Brett matthew.brett@gmail....
Sat Dec 22 11:36:58 CST 2012


Hi,

On Thu, Dec 20, 2012 at 5:39 PM, Nathaniel Smith <njs@pobox.com> wrote:
> On Thu, Dec 20, 2012 at 11:46 PM, Matthew Brett <matthew.brett@gmail.com> wrote:
>> Travis - I think you are suggesting that there should be no  one
>> person in charge of numpy, and I think this is very unlikely to work
>> well.   Perhaps there are good examples of well-led projects where
>> there is not a clear leader, but I can't think of any myself at the
>> moment.  My worry would be that, without a clear leader, it will be
>> unclear how decisions are made, and that will make it very hard to
>> take strategic decisions.
>
> Curious; my feeling is the opposite, that among mature and successful
> FOSS projects, having a clear leader is the uncommon case. GCC
> doesn't, Glibc not only has no leader but they recently decided to get
> rid of their formal steering committee, I'm pretty sure git doesn't,
> Apache certainly doesn't, Samba doesn't really, etc. As usual Karl
> Fogel has sensible comments on this:
>   http://producingoss.com/en/consensus-democracy.html

Ah yes - that is curious.  My - er - speculation was based on:

Numpy - Travis golden age in which we still bask
Sympy - Ondrej, then Aaron - evolving into group decision making AFAICT
IPython - Fernando, evolving into group decision making, AFAICT
Cython - Robert Bradshaw - evolving into ... - you get the idea.

and then reading about businesses particularly Good to Great, Built to
Last, the disaster at HP when they didn't take care about succession.
In general, that reading gave me the impression that  successful
organizations take enormous care about succession.  I can't think of
any case in the business literature I've read where a successful
leader handed over to a group of three.

> In practice the main job of a successful FOSS leader is to refuse to
> make decisions, nudge people to work things out, and then if they
> refuse to work things out tell them to go away until they do:
>   https://lwn.net/Articles/105375/
> and what actually gives people influence in a project is the respect
> of the other members. The former stuff is stuff anyone can do, and the
> latter isn't something you can confer or take away with a vote.

Right.  My impression is - I'm happy to be corrected with better
information - that the leader of a to-be-successful organization is
very good at encouraging a spirit of free and vigorous debate, strong
opinion, and reasoned decisions - and that may be the main gift they
give to the organization. At that point, usually under that leader's
supervision, the decision making starts diffusing over the group, as
they learn to discuss and make decisions together.

As I was teaching my niece and nephew to say to their parents in the
car - Daddy - are we there yet?

If we are not already there, how are we going to get there?

> Nor do we necessarily have a great track record for executive
> decisions actually working things out.

No, I agree, the right leader will help form the group well for making
good group decisions.  I think.

In the mean-time - now that there is a change - could I ask - where do
you three see Numpy going in the next five years?    What do you see
as the challenges to solve?  What are the big risks?  What are the big
possibilities?

Cheers,

Matthew


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