Open Source Writing

Subject: Open Source Writing
From: Andrew Plato <gilliankitty -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 19 Feb 2003 22:06:51 -0800 (PST)

> But this is not the discussion I was trying to begin. If you are going to
> for the open source community is there an advantage to you? If you are
> unemployed and have no money, is time well spent picking up an open-source
> project and hoping that someone will recognize you? Or, is there a way to
> leverage open-source participation during a traditional job search?

If you like technology, you have free time, and you don't mind the insidious
politics of open source - then yes. Go for it. Will you benefit from it...yes,
but not always in the ways you might want.

For example:

1. Its not free.

A lot of people donate tremendous amounts of time to open source projects only
to never receive a damn thing in return. Its awfully hard to motivate people
when there is no money involved. In this sense, you are paying with your time
and labor. That is what I meant when I said, "at the end of the day, somebody
has to sign a check. Might as well be you."

2. Its not a democracy

Most open source projects are monarchies. There is a single, or very small
clique, of all-powerful people and everybody else is a grunt. If the people on
top don't like your ideas, or you're taking too much glory from them, you will
be promptly ignored. Likewise, if you work hard and are dedicated to the cause,
you can win the attention of those on-top and maybe earn some power. Needless
to say, there is a LOT of politics inside open source projects. If you know the
right people, you'll do okay. If you disagree with those above you, you're
quickly cast out.

3. Its not always a viable technology

For every open source winner, there are thousands of open source losers. Open
Office, Snort, and Linux are the ones we all hear about. But there are numerous
projects that never go anywhere. Usually this is because the people at the top
are unable to dedicate their time & energy to the technology.

So, I really think you need to ask yourself a bigger question. Do you really
enjoy the technology or do you just want fame.

I think open source projects are a great place to learn new things, expand your
horizons, and get involved with neat things. However, they are not always the
most valuable use of time. And sometimes the personalities involved are very
difficult to handle.

Good luck.

Andrew Plato

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