When you do some site housekeeping, it’s also a good time to do a little content housekeeping as well.
When I wrote the May 29 blog entry, “Taking a Break,” I really wasn’t trying to be prescient. But what was meant to be a gentle reminder for community members to take mental health breaks, turned into the next-to-last blog posting on this site for over a month’s time.
That’s because when the May 31 post was attempted to publish, we discovered some serious issues on the previous content management system that prevented the automated CI process from clearing content to be posted on this site.
There are two main branches of what is broadly known as free/libre open source software (FLOSS). Free software licenses are restrictive in the sense that if you use software and modify it, and then want to share it with someone else, you must share your changes with the original project.
Open source software licenses are defined as permissive, since there are typically no sharing requirements on the code. You make your changes and then share the code only if you want to.
Memorial Day in the US is traditionally the unofficial start of summer, but ironically it’s also the start of a busy community season around the world.
With more students out of school, code contributions on various projects tend to rise. Conferences also tend to increase in frequency (particularly towards the end of the season). But even as life gets busier, it’s important to remember to pace yourself.
Let’s not kid ourselves: the free and open source community is not all laurel (yanni?) leaves and Kumbaya. There are arguments all the time.
Vi vs. emacs. Restrictive vs. permissive. Open vs. proprietary. Heck, on most days, I have had discussions about one or more of these topics before I’ve finished my morning coffee.
When you add business interests in the mix, the arguments add a whole new layer of motivation because now we’re talking about money and sales.
It’s a pretty violent metaphor, this notion of what happens to your open source software project if one or more of its members might get hit by a bus. Or a truck. Or whatever motor vehicle of doom happens to be barreling down the road of fate. At first thought, one might simply want to urge people to look both ways when crossing the street.
But the bus factor is a real concern for many open source projects, because too often a lot of the work finds itself in the hands of just a few people, who in turn become very critical to the project’s success.
We do this, typically, by displaying plumage that is synchronized. If I am a fan or a particular team, and I see someone wearing a matching jersey, then I can identify with that person in some way, even if it’s the first time I have met them.
This week is our annual Red Hat Summit, a time when many of our nearly 12,000 employees put their work down and come together to work with customers and determine how best to work together moving forward.
This may seem pretty antithetical to the goals of a team like ours, where free and open source projects are the focus, not commericial support and training. But actually customers get just as much benefit talking with the community projects as they do the sales and engineering teams.
Throughout IT is the notion that when you are promoted to being a manager, you should somehow be able to do the things you have been doing. If you are a coder, you should be able to code and manage. If you are a writer, writer, sysadmin… the same theory holds.
The manage-from-within notion is something a lot of community managers have to contend with every day. It is an especially fuzzy boundary because, typically, community managers aren’t really managing people at all, but rather guiding resources and providing support. So why shouldn’t they get to also work to their strengths?
Because nothing could be further from the truth.
Given the rapid growth of open source, it seems reasonable to expect that undergraduate students in computer science or software engineering programs would graduate with an understanding of open source and the ability to make project contributions. However, most students are not being taught core tools and concepts such as licenses, version control, and issue trackers as part of their degree program.
This special episode of Community Central shares the results of recent research anthropologist Matt Bernius conducted for Mozilla on the state of undergraduate education around open source software. Matt will also discuss the gap between undergraduate computing education and community expectations, and explore both the reasons for the gap and approaches to bridging it.