Re: Writing for the Open Source Community

Subject: Re: Writing for the Open Source Community
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 19 Feb 2003 15:46:11 -0800


eric -dot- dunn -at- ca -dot- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com wrote:

The donation of time and effort to any cause does not happen primarily because
people want to be generous. It happens because they can afford to be generous.

I think you're missing an important point here. Generosity is one motive. However, ego and experience are just as important, if not more so.

Without good old business is for profit corporations paying programmers enough
money and treating them well enough that they still love what they do for a
living, or whatever company paying their employee so that they can afford a
computer and go home a dabble in programming, the open source community would
not exist at all.

Obviously, people need to make a living. That's a commonplace and unremarkable. You could say that any hobby or avocation you could name can only exist because somebody has an income from another source. So what?

What's remarkable is that people in the open source community are donating hours of their time for intangible benefits - often, to the extent that they're doing more than another full shift of work, and keep doing so for years and years. Economic determinism has very little to do with it.

Your answer has really verified my opinion of Open Source. If you don't already
have a day job (or need to build a portfolio), don't bother.

I gather that the altruistic reasons don't motivate you? Well, here's a couple of more pragmatic reasons:

Another poster touched on a couple of other reasons. From personal experience, I can vouch that nothing gives a writer more instant geek cred than being informed or active in open source or free software development. If you want to be accepted by software developers,it's ideal. For example, once I mention that I've been published by Linux Journal, I'm almost instantly accepted when talking to programmers; they assume (perhaps not altogether accurately ;-> ) that I'm a writer who understands technology and software writing.

More importantly, the extent to which open source technology is becoming part of the workplace is incredible. IBM says that it earned one billion from open source solutions last year; HP says it earned two-three billion from them. Recently, too, I've noticed that networking and eLearning are particularly active in embracing open source technologies. So, depending on where you work, some knowledge of them can be extremely useful.

Of course, if you're sure you have a job for life, or feel you have enough expertise that you don't have to worry about emerging technologies, then these reasons may not be very compelling, either. But, personally, I prefer to be prepared. And when I can be prepared easily, and from home, and receive side-benefits - well, I don't why not. But, of course, the choice is personal.

--
Bruce Byfield bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com 604.421.7177
http://members.axion.net/~bbyfield

"Take six politicians to dig me a grave,
Take six intellectuals my soul for to save,
And six union workers, a red flag to wave
And one stupid singer to rant and to rave."
- The Men They Couldn't Hang, "Industrial Town"



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References:
Re: Writing for the Open Source Community: From: eric . dunn

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