Re: Writing for the Open Source Community

Subject: Re: Writing for the Open Source Community
From: eric -dot- dunn -at- ca -dot- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 20 Feb 2003 12:56:10 -0500

Bruce Byfield wrote:
<<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.>>

Bruce, I respect you opinions and enjoy your participation on the list. This may
just be the straw that broke the camel's back, I'm getting really sick and tired
of being told I've missed the point by people who have completely missed or
ignored what my original question was.

<< 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.>>

I've had some big and nasty arguments with AP over the years, but this is one
subject on which I'm in complete agreement. The religious fervour and politics
of the open source community are crazy. I never questioned the viability of the
open source model or attacked the participants.

<<I gather that the altruistic reasons don't motivate you?>>

I think you all had better stop trying to judge me without knowing me. I've
spent many years in various volunteer organisations. I resent the fact that
simply asking whether there's money to be made writing for the open source
community has me tagged as only out to make a buck.

The original question was quite simple. Besides portfolio pieces and the
altruistic side is are there real money making opportunities? As whenever
someone says they are out of work someone almost always says look at the open
source community I thought that there may be a little more hope than just
altruism for those that are desperate to make a living.

<<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.>>

Now that's what I was expecting in terms of discussion. How do you break into
that type of work.

<<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.>>

So how are they making the money and how does someone looking for a career

<<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.>>

While this isn't directed directly at me, a couple of e-mails were. I am
interested in learning new technologies. And I consider it a slight to my
professionalism that some seem fit to judge that I am looking to just coast
along on my current knowledge.

I really regret being inquisitive enough to request suggestions or outlooks in
another area of expertise. I'm no stranger to lists and far from a lurker, so my
ego is not damaged. But for the sake of the others on the list that wouldn't
stand up to the onslaught, all could do well to consider their words.

If open source IS going to continue as a subject topic. How about some actual
helpful information for techwriters. How to identify promising projects, the
level of expertise required to get involved, ways the expertise gained can be
marketed, how to break into writing articles, books, etc.

Eric L. Dunn


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