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

Dag Sverre Seljebotn d.s.seljebotn@astro.uio...
Sun Dec 23 02:56:22 CST 2012


On 12/22/2012 06:36 PM, Matthew Brett wrote:
> 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.

I don't really want to prolong this thread, but I feel like I should 
correct a factual error. Cython started with Robert Bradshaw (and other 
Sage members) and Stefan Behnel exchanging patches on top of Pyrex; 
there was definitely no leader at that point. Then I came along; there 
was no leader at that point either (but I was aware that the two others 
had a longer track record of course).

Robert Bradshaw was declared leader in order to break the tie when I and 
Stefan Behnel had argued for a 100-post long thread and could not reach 
a conclusion. And at least in this case, we were able to settle on a 
leadership structure then, when we needed it, and didn't regret not 
doing it earlier.

Dag Sverre

>
> 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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