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Key Takeaways From The Linux Foundation Member Summit

By November 15, 2021November 21st, 2021Blog

Author: Wenjing Chu, ToIP Steering Committee Member, LF Edge Governing Board Member, Sr. Director of Technology Strategy at Futurewei

The Linux Foundation Member Summit (LFMS) is an annual gathering I always look forward to because it offers organizations and open source community leaders an opportunity to cross domain boundaries and collaboratively manage our common investment in open source. We learn strategies from each other on how to face our biggest common challenges.

But of course, this year wasn’t like any other.

Covid-19 was the elephant in the room. Most of our partners outside of the U.S.—the EU, APAC, even Canada—could not join us in person. For most attendees—including me—this was their first in-person conference since the pandemic began (last year’s LFMS was cancelled at the last minute). But that also meant having the masks, the questionnaires, and yes, vaccine passes (unfortunately, not Good Health Pass compliant).

What has been happening while we’ve been holed up at home? In this year’s LFMS, two themes stood out:

  1. The safety of open source software. Numerous high profile, high impact digital system vulnerabilities occupied news headlines in the last year. Software supply chain, especially open source supply chain security, is identified as by far the most urgent shared challenge in open source. 
  2. Countering the retreat from collaboration on open source and open standards. Whether caused by the spillover of international tensions into open source, or by the lack of personal interactions during the pandemic, either way we need to restore it. We need more collaboration, not less.

The relevance of ToIP is clear here: I would go so far as to say that the very center of the open source community’s collective attention is trust. This is true no matter whether it is in the fight against the pandemic in Public Health, the safety of open source software supply chain, FinTech, AgStack (agriculture), public education, green tech, open voice interfaces, or global collaboration in open source and standards.

In that vein, let me share takeaways from several ToIP community members who attended LFMS along with me:

Judith Fleenor, Director of Strategy Engagements, ToIP Foundation

“Listening to all the keynotes and speaking with other project leads, I feel there is so much synergy with the Trust Over IP dual stack interoperability design and what other Linux Foundation projects are working on. The hot topic on everyone’s mind is security and digital equality. Interest in creating a landscape of digital trust to help with the challenges the world is facing was high, whether that be in product supply chain, FinTech, AgTech, resource management, health credentials, enterprise identity and access management or software supply chain. The Trust Over IP dual stack has a place in all those ecosystems. I left feeling what we are doing at ToIP is more relevant and needed now than ever.”

Jim St. Clair, Executive Director, LF Public Health

“It’s exciting to be able to leverage the groundbreaking work we’ve done in ToIP to develop the ‘trust stack’ to apply that to a broad range of open source health solutions, enabling new ways to incorporate privacy and consent into healthcare delivery. This is especially applicable in LMIC (low and middle income) countries, where digital identity offers a new mechanism for patient identification and delivering health benefits while protecting privacy and self-sovereign identity”.

Michael Nettles, Senior Vice President for the Policy, Evaluation and Research Center of ETS; ToIP Steering Committee Member

“The promise of making high quality educational content available and accessible offers the greatest prospect for addressing the national and global challenges of teaching, learning, assessment and recognition. In my inaugural 2021 Linux Foundation summit, I appreciated the opportunity to hear, visit with and learn from new and emerging colleagues and friends from around the globe, about the vast opportunity and potential offered by an expanding open source culture and society, and challenges of identity, security, financial sustainability and the ongoing need for invention.

The summit was abound with evidence of the benefit of collaboration across industries for addressing common technology, human and content challenges, and also how greater access to knowledge and exposure is leading to expansion of opportunities for learning, invention and commerce. I am looking forward to applying these lessons at the intersection of education and public policy and broadening working to expand the audience of participants.”

Kaliya Young, Ecosystems Director, Covid Credentials Initiative;
Chair, ToIP Good Health Pass Interoperability Working Group

“In 2004, I went to my first Open Source Convention (OSCON) to promote and represent Identity Commons. I think it was there that I met Brian Belendorf for the first time – I went for many years after that. Being at the LF celebration felt like ‘OSCON for grown-ups’. Many of the people I had first met there were also in Napa last week.  The session that I found most interesting were asking about how the open source side of LF and the newly brought in open standards JDF part played well together and about the governance and leadership of process in the foundations communities. ”

This year is the 30th anniversary of Linux (the operating system), and of course the Linux Foundation organized a celebration to mark the occasion. It is also a time for reflection (Confucius says, 三十而立). If we compare today’s technology landscape with that of 1991, we’d agree that technology has marched forward at a remarkable pace for the benefit of humanity. In LF Executive Director Jim Zemlin’s words (my rephrasing, sorry), the easy problems have all been tackled in the last 30 years—only the hard ones remain. I believe one of the hardest remaining nuts to crack is a general purpose trust infrastructure for the Internet. That is our mission at the ToIP community. So my biggest takeaway from LFMS was: let’s get on with it!

Outside the LFMS event tent, at dusk, on the grass