The “Supermind” of Open Source

I am reading Superminds – the The Surprising Power of People and Computers Thinking Together by Thomas W Malone–a book which calls out various facets of injecting Artificial Intelligence into thriving ecosystems of humans working together to augment the collective intelligence of these groups as a whole. Malone takes us through a journey into a world that brings to bear collaborative technologies and machine learning to aim for the perfect enterprise — An enterprise that can be ideally positioned to formulate and execute the most effective strategy to be successful. Respecting one of the “super brains” in the recent past, Malone calls this enterprise “Alberts”. I continue to read this page-turner and within a few pages, Malone references Wikipedia and Open Source software as highly de-centralized online groups that are much more prominent — just as he had predicted in his Future of Work book published in 2004. This got me thinking. Can this concept of the “Supermind” be applied to Open Source? Taking a cue from Malone’s idealistic enterprise–“Alberts”, join me as I inject a new member into the Open Source community–O2S2.

Continue reading

Pass the Torch Without Dropping the Ball

A replacement plan/document is a great community resource, even when you’re not being replaced.

A year ago, as the role of RDO community manager at Red Hat was moving from one person to another, that team started thinking about what needs to be in place to effectively transition a role. More generally, the managers started thinking about planning, and documenting, for anyone’s eventual replacement.
Continue reading

Don’t Lick the Cookie!

The phrase “cookie licking” has become popular in recent years to define a pattern which can be problematic in communities. Its meaning comes from a story: Mom makes a plate of cookies, and sets the on the table for the family. After everyone has had their cookies, there is one left on the plate. The cheeky child of the family wants to have the last cookie later, but has no confidence it will still be there when she comes back, so she grabs the cookie, licks it, and puts it back on the plate, secure in the knowledge that no-one else will want to eat it.

Continue reading

The Danger of Devaluing Community Volunteers

It is a convenient myth for a lot of people in the free and open source software community that our projects have few barriers to entry beyond a base set of knowledge about the project new contributors want to try to join, and the skills need to contribute to a project.

Diversity, to a lot of people who buy into the pure meritocracy myth, is a problem that can be solved by accepting anyone who can contribute. It’s the contribution that matters, not the person’s race, gender, or other identifiable status. Train more people up, the meritocrats will argue, and the diversity problem will be solved.

Continue reading

DevConf.us: Launching a New Event

DevConfUS LogoIt takes a village to raise a child, so the saying goes. That is also certainly the case for launching a new tech event, as the attendees of the inaugural DevConf.us have learned this week.

DevConf.us has successfully started in the George Sherman Union on the campus of Boston University, and runs until this Sunday afternoon. Registration is free of charge, so developers from all across the New England area are welcome.

Continue reading

Building Community Roadmaps

Road map imageA project roadmap is a valuable document for a community open source project. For growing projects, even when the developers are predominantly working for one company, the roadmap is invaluable and accomplishes a number of things at once:

  • It is a great tool for setting shared priorities and setting limits for what is in and out of scope for the project
  • It encourages the developer team to be transparent about planning and provides context for more discrete quantities of work
  • For engaged community members, it gives an opportunity to contribute to the improvement of the project, by suggesting features which are not on the roadmap, or by volunteering to develop features, which are included but not yet committed by the core team
  • Finally, for casual users of the project, and visitors evaluating whether they would like to use the project, it gives an idea of what is coming down the road

Continue reading

An OSCON Milestone

2018 has been a big year for Linux. Red Hat is celebrating its 25th anniversary (as well as Slackware!), and we are not the only ones with significant birthdays. This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the Open Source Initiative (OSI) and a touchstone conference in the open source ecosystem: OSCON. And this year’s show is celebrating in style, moving back to where many would say it always belonged, Portland, Oregon.

Continue reading