October 14, 2014
I was inspired to write this post by a good friend of mine who reminded me they look for something inspirational to read or watch every evening before calling it a night. This post is for you. Wherever you are and whenever you are reading this. You matter.
This isn’t like my normal posts and it’s certainly far more personal than my usual. Read it anyways. I don’t know what you are busy working on. I don’t know what makes you tick or what motivates you to do the things you do. Your life and your choices are your own based on your life experiences and your connections with others. One thing I do know. I know you matter. I’ve spoken on this topic numerous times at various conferences. In fact I just recently offered the closing keynote for an event in Bulgaria where I shared this very idea. Each of you matter. You are special. You have talents and abilities unique to you. No one else who has ever lived or will ever live again has the same set of opportunities to change this world like you do.
Your opinion matters.
I’ve heard a quote which says if two people agreed on everything then one of them is not need. I believe we can expand this to more than just two people. I believe in communities you will never fail to find differences of opinions. Some of you have loud voice and like to share your opinions with everyone listening (and everyone not listening); others have a soft voice and your opinion has to be practically dragged from you. And of course there are others who are in the middle somewhere. All of you have an opinion that matters. Don’t be afraid to share it. If you are in the first group I mentioned- don’t be afraid to listen. We don’t all have to agree. The goal is not to make everyone agree with us. The goal is to communicate and grow. Here’s a quote by a good friend of mine…I think it speaks volumes.
Loud voices silence wispers.
— betweenbrain (@betweenbrain) October 13, 2014
Your work matters.
We all have different skills. I could never do some of the things my friends do. I’m amazed at the abilities of others and the things they are capable of. Call it a gift, call it a talent, call it a skill. Whatever you call it. It matters. Your work and what you spend your time doing matters. This is especially true in an open source community. When we’re all working together as volunteers we are contributing our talents to a greater good. We are working together to make something amazing. Just as no one else has your opinion no one else has the same opportunity to do things that you do. Your skills, your talents can do great things and the work you do matters. If you haven’t read my previous post about open source appreciation I suggest you do so now. Because your work matters. And I thank you for it.
Your life matters.
Last point before I leave you. Your life matters. I mean your real life. Not your social profile. What you do and how you choose to spend your time matters. Do so wisely. Don’t lose sight of what is truly important to you. Stop and think about your time and your life. Are you happy with how your days are spent? Are you enjoying your life? Your life matters. Not only to yourself but to others. Your family, your friends, your workplace, your volunteer communities. There are dozens of places where you make a difference. Be sure you’re happy with yourself. Do those things that make you happy and make your life matter.
So as you finish reading I want to thank you. Thank you for reading my blog and for taking the time to connect with me. Each of you that has said gone out of your way to speak with me, to shake my hand, or offer a hug in friendship. Thank you. You matter to me and I wish nothing but the best for you.
Remember, we’re all in this together.
September 30, 2014
Open Source Appreciation
When you’re volunteering in an open source community most of the time you understand that you are giving your time and talents without any expectation of payment. Monetary payment. You do the work because you see the value in the community and you see the opportunity to get involved, contribute your skills, and make a difference. You don’t do it for the praise and you don’t do it for the personal gain. You’re volunteering.
However there is an opportunity for the community here to do something remarkable. Open source communities have the chance to appreciate you as the volunteer. There is an opportunity to offer heartfelt thank you and appreciation for the donation of your most valuable asset – your time.
The Greatest Community
The best open source communities understand that their volunteers are worth far more than a check from a venture capitalist firm or a sponsor payment seeking some specific return on investment. These outstanding communities place their worth and their value in their volunteers. Those individuals who are so committed and dedicated to the community they give the one resource they can never get back. They give their time. When these superior communities understand this principle it is reflected in their attitude, in their behavior, and in their treatment of their contributors and volunteers. They demonstrate excellent appreciation.
How can this appreciation be demonstrated by an organization or community where finances and money are not the motivating or driving factor? What are some ways in which appreciation can be shown. Great communities have already figured this out and the put these ways into practice on a daily basis. Here are a few examples.
A Public Acknowledgement
There are several great examples of this idea of public acknowledgement. I’ll give only one which I found recently and thought it to be an exceptional one. If anyone is familiar with Mozilla Firefox they have done some amazing things to publicly appreciate their volunteers. One of those is the San Francisco Monument they’ve constructed. It’s a fantastic example of just one way in which Mozilla has very publicly demonstrated appreciation for their volunteers.
Of course it doesn’t take a marble pillar to publicly acknowledge the hard work and effort of volunteers. Sometimes all it takes is a blog post. Finding ways to publicly thank those individuals giving their time is a fantastic way to demonstrate appreciation.
A Personal Note
You don’t always have to be public in your appreciation. Some communities send a note to active volunteers thanking them personally for their work. This is almost the reciprocal action of the public acknowledgement. Rather than publicly thanking someone you can do it privately.
I’ve seen some examples of this which are truly awesome. A handwritten letter in the mail. Yes, that’s right an actual snail-mail post thanking someone for their efforts. It doesn’t cost more than a stamp, an envelope and a little time. But the value is immense. If you’ve ever gotten a personalized note you know what I’m talking about. It’s a great feeling to feel appreciated and valued. It doesn’t cost much to personally thank someone.
I was going to list several more ways but I erased my points because I want to leave you with these two thoughts. Public and Private appreciation. A personal connection. This is what it all comes down to. The ability to connect with each other not just as a community of volunteers working on a project but as people interacting and growing.
Our communities are a place where relationships can thrive. Lifelong friendships can be made and personal growth is encouraged. The truly great open source communities realize without volunteers they have no future. These communities show this realization through their personal relationships and thoughtful appreciation of each volunteer. At the end of the day its the relationships which matter.
In our communities the focus should be the person not the project .
May 6, 2014
Where’s the Value in Open Source?
Open Source is valuable. Very few people would argue that point. There is most definitely a sense of intrinsic worth. But where does this value exist? Is it in the code produced or in something else?
By the very nature of open source, (read more about the standard four freedoms here) the ability to view and access the source code is a powerful, driving factor. Because the code is so freely accessible and a prominent focus of open source it can easily be considered to be the value of open source.
Lines of Code
This assumption in the value of open source being the code corresponds to the influx of available services to measure and quantify this code. Take for example the social code-sharing website, GitHub. This overwhelmingly popular service provides all types of stats on code and changes made. In fact, GitHub recently released a new feature called “pulse” and it provided all manner of new assessments of the code. How many people and how many commits over a specific time period and the total number of lines of code touched. Do you see the focus? The code. All the value is implied to be held within the code.
Often times in a community we continue with this idea of placing the value of open source and the community in the code, or the product. This belief perpetuates a problem. Is the value of open source truly in a product which can be freely replicated, forked, and changed at will?
The real value of open source is not in the product. Open source is more than the code. It’s a community surrounding a shared set of goals. And when this community works together to develop code it costs time. Lots of time is spent creating this product. In fact, another website, Ohloh.net begins to touch on this when it mentions how many hours are estimated to create a particular project. But it doesn’t really capture the heart of it. It’s a great start, but still there’s something missing.
Sure open source is about code, and yes, it’s about community, and its about the time spent, but there’s something even more. Open source is about the people involved. Code can be replaced, re-written, even removed completely and the project will continue to move forward. The open source community is made up of people who are dedicated their time and their life to see its success.
Herein is where the true value lies. The people who give their time to create this amazing open source community. These people give their life to see their project grow. And this is valuable. Open source communities must be careful to place their focus correctly. When the people are neglected, the value of the project is lost, the community will suffer, and the code will fail.
The Hidden Treasure
If we realize that the people which make up a community are the truly valuable part of an open source project then its important to look at how this wealth should be handled to be nurtured properly and grown. Obviously we want to grow the most valuable part of our community. We want to strengthen the bonds which bring the community together to create something bigger than themselves. That’s the secret of a strong and growing community. The relationships. When the relationships between the people making up a community are strong then the project will thrive. The culture of a community matters.
The next time you see a thriving open source project, take a minute to examine the community. Checkout how the volunteers are viewed and appreciated. Remember, a community is only as strong as the people which make it up. And remember relationships matter. The people and the relationships are the true treasure of an open source community.