Episode 78

University Open Source Engagement


30 January 2024

40 mins 29 secs

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About this Episode

Thank you to the folks at Sustain for providing the hosting account for CHAOSSCast!

CHAOSScast – Episode 78

In this episode, host Matt Germonprez is joined by panelists Sayeed Choudhury from Carnegie Mellon University, Clare Dillon from the University of Galway and Lero, Allison Kittinger from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Data Science Institute, and Zach Chandler from Stanford University. They discuss the intricate relationship between open source software and university missions, the role of libraries in supporting OSS, and the collaborative culture fostering community and innovation. The overlapping terrains of open science, open scholarship, and open source in the academic world are explored, along with the challenges and promises of developing universities OSPOs. Join us as we highlight the dynamic growth and potential of OSS in enhancing educational experiences and research output. Press download now to hear more!

[00:00:22] The panelists introduce themselves and tell us what they do.

[00:01:49] Sayeed begins discussing why universities care about open source software, emphasizing its alignment with university missions and its importance as a research output and educational experience.

[00:03:30] Allison continues the role of open source in academia and the importance of creating a supportive culture around it. Zach expresses the importance of open source software in research and teaching, emphasizing the value of sharing and innovation in Stanford’s commitment to open source. Clare speaks about the perspective from Lero and the need to improve engagement with open source software across Irish universities.

[00:08:12] Matt asks about the relationship with universities’ engagement with open source and libraires. Allison discusses the parallels between open source and library functions like scholarly publishing, suggesting the potential need for dedicated open source support within libraries.

[00:10:47] Sayeed highlights the libraries’ neutrality and curation role within universities, suggesting this aligns well with open scholarship and open source software. Clare shares positive interactions with librarians in the open source ecosystem and praises the librarian discipline. Zach commends academic librarians for their alignment with open source ethos, despite his OSPO not being situated within a library.

[00:13:45] Matt asks the panelists to describe a day in their life concerning open source engagement at their universities. Clare talks about working on a framework for open source policy for Irish universities, inspired by Ireland’s National Open Research Forum, involving various stakeholders.

[00:15:14] Allison mentions her day involved planning and hiring for an outreach specialist role to support open source efforts and future team expansion and discusses focusing on outreach efforts for open source within the community and campus, including event planning and needs assessment.

[00:17:03] Zach describes his day like Allison’s, involving consultations on open source licensing and learning from advanced open source projects. Sayeed compares open source work at universities to tending a garden and discusses strategic and operational aspects of his role, emphasizing building social capital.

[00:21:02] Matt asks if the panelists see their work as building community within their universities. Sayeed discusses building community as a convener and center of competency, helping students and faculty navigate open source issues.

[00:22:30] Allison sees her role as building the open source program and community, inspired by the Wisconsin idea that the university’s work should benefit the entire state. Zach focuses on building a community among coding leads from various labs through the Maintainers and Contributors Roundtable, aiming to support and elevate software production. Clare highlights the diversity of people involved in open source at universities and the broader societal impact of open source beyond just software development.

[00:28:04] Matt asks whether the panelists are making positive strides and acknowledges the newness of some OSPOs. He notes potential challenges like getting various university layers to understand their message. Zach feels successful in engaging the research community and uncovering new projects but faces the challenge of integrating these projects into a meaningful framework.

[00:29:44] Allison talks about the excitement and challenge of focusing on key areas without getting overwhelmed by the multitude of directions and projects available. Clare highlights the importance of sharing experiences to avoid duplicating efforts and points out the challenge of translating open source concepts for non-technical audiences. Sayeed discusses the gains at CMU, where the OSPO is beginning to be seen as the go-to for open source. He brings up the challenge of meeting immediate and specific demands from university members like choosing licenses.

Value Adds (Picks) of the week:

  • [00:36:16] Matt’s pick is a book he read: Of Bicycles, Bakelites, and Bulbs: Toward a Theory of Sociotechnical Change.
  • [00:36:39] Clare’s pick is an email titled, “Hope is a verb” from Roger Steare, Corporate Philosopher. Also, an article called, “How to Cultivate Hope,” in Psychology Today.
  • [00:37:21] Sayeed’s pick is committing to walking 10,000 steps a day.
  • [00:38:12] Allison’s pick is Uplands Pleasant Ridge Reserve Cheese.
  • [00:39:12] Zach’s pick is Zee Bracket.


Matt Germonprez


Sayeed Choudhury

Clare Dillon

Allison Kittinger

Zach Chandler



CHAOSS Project X/Twitter

CHAOSScast Podcast


Georg Link Website

Matt Germonprez X/Twitter

Sayeed Choudhury X/Twitter

Sayeed Choudhury LinkedIn

Clare Dillon X/Twitter

Clare Dillon LinkedIn

Allison Kittinger LinkedIn

Allison Kittinger Website

Zach Chandler LinkedIn

Stanford University Open Source

Lero OSPO-GitHub

Ireland’s National Open Research Forum (NORF)

Of Bicycles, Bakelites, and Bulbs: Toward a Theory of Sociotechnical Change by Wiebe E. Biijker

Hope is a verb” by Roger Steare

Uplands Cheese-Pleasant Ridge Reserve

Zee Bracket

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