inBloom — Data, Privacy, and the Conversations We Could Have Had
Bill Fitzgerald
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Thank you for noting the missed opportunity (to put it most charitably) represented by their use of “open source” to gain trust and legitimacy while starting. I had a ring-side though not central seat to some of this, and they could never get past the lust for centralizing the data full stop, which renders any actual open source efforts moot. The teachers and educational administrators had all clamored for “open source” during the formative days of the project precisely because they believed that would give them sovereignty over where the data lived and the evolution of the project. This was sadly not to be. As you say, if they had encouraged the states (or individual districts, or private schools, etc) to have greater control over the data, by making it easier to install and configure and showing them how to run it on their data centers if they wished, with interoperability protocols for students who crossed from one system to another, they could have addressed many of the objections that led to their downfall. The brand confusion between inBloom the code and the company is just one part of it; if they’d allowed/encouraged private sector firms to become licensed providers of support and integration and customization services around the open source platform, then even more of the concern about trusting inBloom with the data and the direction of the platform would have been mitigated. But as a company formed more in the mold of Salesforce than a foundation in the mold the Linux Foundation or Apache Software Foundation, inBloom couldn’t help but think that way. Hopefully next time around the sector can get this side of the solution right.

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