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Difference between code and content

I have tried to sum up (what I believe is) the most salient part of this
argument on the website. Quoting from http://opencontent.org/bazaar.shtml

Perhaps it has to do with a fundamental difference between code and content, let
us say prose, for example. While there are almost an infinity of ways to code a
program so that it fulfills a specific purpose, whether or not it fulfills its
express purpose is a rather objective matter. Even the subjective part of
coding, decisions about specific implementation issues, can to some degree
compared objectively in terms of reductions in file size, memory footprint, or
execution time. In other words, the improvement of a program is, pardon the
term, a relatively objective matter.

The betterment of a piece of prose is a different matter entirely. How do you
compare one piece of prose with another? While there are some comparatively
objective sides to prose, such as mechanics or accuracy of factual information,
prose is a much more subjective matter. If a well-meaning programmer introduces
some bad code into a program, it should be readily evident when the code fails
to compile, execute, or perform its stated function. When someone inserts "not"
into a sentence, however, there is often no quick, objective way for us to tell
that the content of the prose has been tainted. This is certainly an issue for
source content creation.

I believe that Eric has, in his relation of the "maintainer" and his/her role,
afforded us the solution to this dilemma. The open source content project
coordinator has the same responsibilities as the open source software project
maintainer. While there is certainly a distinction to be made between the
factual and hermeneutic sides of an open source history project, a responsible
maintainer must be accountable at least for factual accuracy. For example, while
one open source Civil War project might interpret the causes of the "recent
unpleasantness" to be issues of states' sovereignty and another might explain it
in terms of human rights, we would expect both projects to be as factually
accurate as possible, and hold the project maintainer accountable to see that it

This and the other roles which make for successful open source content
development will develop over time as part of the culture of open source content
development. I mention them here only to raise awareness of some of the issues
of OSCD and help the community begin a dialogue on the challenges of succeeding
in such an undertaking.


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