Re: Anyone familiar with "aspforums"?
1) Do you write documentation for open source software?Yes, but currently not as my main source of income. I did spend 14 months in which most of my income was from documenting open source software, and would do so again if possible.
However, I do write about open source software as a journalist for (among others), The Linux Journal and the Techwr-l web site.
2) If you do, why?My reasons are complex, a mixture of idealism, preference and outright ego. In no particular order:
1.) I greatly admire the philosophy. I recognize the difficulties it presents to many traditional business models, as well as the difficulties in making the transition. However, I usually find devotion to principles and volunteerism irrresistable. Moreover, the philosophy promises to bring more ethics into business and make it more humane. Since, like most people, I spend many of my waking hours at work, I appreciate not having to leave my personal ethics and preferences in the reception area.
2.) Open source and free software represent a big change. There aren't many big changes left in high-tech these days (or so it seems), so I appreciate the chance to be a small part of one. My involvement makes the work I do seem worthwhile and important.
3.) I dislike monopolies, and I especially dislike monopolies based on mediocre products; both Microsoft and Adobe bother me, but Microsoft more than Adobe, because at least Adobe's best-known products are reasonably high quality. This isn't as large a motive with me as with some others, but it exists.
4.) It's an interesting social phenomenon. The history of technological advance usually seems to be towards the large corporation, yet here are a couple of movements heading in the opposite direction, and have some success. In addition, it's a phenomenon that really only took off with the Internet. Before that, collaboration with people from around the world was possible, but much slower.
5.) Writing for open source and free software isn't anonymous. You almost always get the credit for what you've done. I appreciate that, and I suspect that others do, too.
6.) Just the fact that I am involved helps to make coders take me serioiusly in my work.
7.) It's like charity work. I feel that I'm giving something back - not just to those I work with,but, increasingly, to the non-industrialized countries who are starting to lean toward open source and free software.
8.) It gives me a chance to work on interesting material. A lot of documenting these days seems to be bread and butter work.
I work from home a fair bit, so working on these projects isn't much different from my other work. E-mail and instant messenging makes long distance collaboration extremely easy.
3) What has your experience been with it (in terms of what the practicalities are of working on an open-source project)?
Bruce Byfield 604.421.7177 bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com
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