I _Really_ Don't Know

A low-frequency blog by Rob Styles

I write code 4 libraries

Warning: Emotional rant follows.

For about a year now I've been hanging out on #code4lib, an IRC channel for coders working in the library/archives/learning/lms space. I'm not a salesperson and I've never tried to sell anything.

So I was a bit upset to see Dan Scott accuse me of being "in full sales mode" in his comment on Dan Chudnov's blog. I take that kinda personally.

The reason I chose to do the lightning talk was essentially because I saw a lot of talk about Open Source and yet one of the biggest problems we face (all of us, not just me) is one of Open Data. I probably was "in full sales mode" but for Open Data, not for Talis.

I went to Code4Lib to share ideas, to listen and to talk. It was great for that. You know, we're all paid to write code for libraries; except Erik Hatcher, who's paid to analyse Japanese texts or something.

That's the nub of it, we're all paid to write code 4 libraries. Some of us are paid directly, one-to-one from the library coffers, some of us are paid by a vendor, who then splits the costs across many libraries. If Dan can't "sell" his ideas to his bosses he doesn't get paid; if I can't sell my ideas to my bosses I don't get paid. Same thing.


So, my question to Dan is... What business models are OK then?

  • Being employed by the library as an individual?
  • Selling your skills to the library as an indiviudal?
  • Selling your skills to the library as a small company?
  • Selling your skills to the library as a big company?
  • Selling a product to the library as an indiviudal?
  • Selling a product to the library as a small company?

Or is it how much we charge that's a problem? We haven't worked out costings for the Talis Platform, we're not accepting orders yet.


We were there, sharing - give and take. How much did your vendor give to Code4Lib? How much did you give? (er, in Dan's case a lot actually.) I don't want you to think what we're doing is cool because Richard or I have a 'slick' presentation, we want you to think what we're doing is cool because we're trying to help you. Maybe that's just a step too far for an evil vendor. Here's how it played out on IRC some time ago:

[20:17:28] <mmmmmRob> @karma talis
[20:17:30] <panizzi> mmmmmRob: Karma for "talis" has been increased 1 time and decreased 5 times for a total karma of -4.
[20:17:38] <mmmmmRob> WTF?
[20:18:01] <mmmmmRob> :-(
[20:18:04] <miker_> @karma mmmmmRob
[20:18:04] <panizzi> miker_: Karma for "mmmmmRob" has been increased 13 times and decreased 0 times for a total karma of 13.
[20:18:12] <miker_> so, you're ok :)
[20:18:23] <miker_> you're karma reflects well on your overloards
[20:18:25] <mmmmmRob> yeah, but WTF did we do to get hit four time?
[20:18:42] <miker_> mmmmmRob: you're a ScaryVendor(tm)

The problem here is this distinction between the people and the vendor. I work for Talis, RJW works for Talis, Talis is us (well, not just us obviously).  Just like Equinox is miker, bradl, phasefx and the guys. We're employee owned, we make the decisions - saying Talis is evil is the same as saying I am evil.

That's also why I'm blogging this on my own blog; that's me; that's Talis.

<full sales mode>

Talis is a great place to work, and we're hiring. mail me at:



echo ${NICK}.${SURNAME}@${SCARYVENDORNAME}.com | sed -e "s/[m]{5}(.*)/\1/";

</full sales mode>


Mike Rylander -- VP of Sarcasm

SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO..... How much software do you want to buy today? (...he says, using his best imitation of a cardboard standup...) I have really got to start working on my sarcasm-over-IP implementation, because it is so not working right now. For the record: [panizzi([email protected])] Highest karma: "rsinger" (534), "edsu" (439), and "eby" (278). Lowest karma: "{VENDOR THAT'S NOT TALIS}" (-261), "{ANOTHER VENDOR THAT ISN'T TALIS EITHER}" (-232), and "{STILL NOT TALIS -- STILL A VENDOR}" (-223). I'd call -4 statistical noise... Or that's what I tell myself about my 5 personal decrements. ;)