Free/Open Source Software is radically transforming how software is being developed by different communities in diverse disciplines. Many of the grand challenge topics for engineering research increasingly rely on the development and use of FOSS systems (e.g., the International Thermonuclear Energy Research (ITER) project for fusion research), and in some topics, the development and experimentation with FOSS-based systems are likely to be central to future research activities (e.g., advanced health informatics, secure cyberspace, enhanced virtual reality, and advanced personalized learning systems). However, FOSS remains a computing technology at its core, while FOSS development remains a web of complex socio-technical processes. But these processes are not well understood nor readily predictable, as informal practices are widespread and continually adapting. As such, FOSS is amenable to technological advances, socio-technical innovations, and systematic empirical studies that can emerge from research in the Computer Science community and beyond.
We seek to articulate both multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary perspectives on how and why FOSS has become such a source of technology-centered global transformation, and what the future may hold. We need to identify key research problems and experimental studies going forward, along with the requisite research infrastructure and shared data repositories needed to support this research. We also need to identify future roles that Computer Science can play in fostering, sustaining, and expanding the ongoing development of FOSS as a realm of technology development and use, as an engine of innovation in other scientific and cultural disciplines, and as a socio-technical movement that has Computer Science at its core.
Our objective is to bring together a diverse audience of computer scientists and social scientists within an research workshop to explore these issues, challenges and opportunities. The workshop will focus on articulating emerging problems and questions that arise in the development, use, and evolution of FOSS systems, tools, techniques, and concepts, and to do so in ways that give rise to a new research agenda that becomes the basis for a new cross-disciplinary research program on FOSS.