The brave, new post open source world disaster

Posted by Jim Jagielski on Friday, January 29. 2016 in Open Source, Personal

Ahhh... The post open source, hipster development world. All is light and unicorns. People have rejected the ideas of governance and licenses; just shove it on Github and share, share, share. "This is the way Open Source should be", it is declared in Vape shops whilst listening to vinyl on their turntables, pork-pie hat skewed so ironically. "Rulz just get in the way, I just wanna do my own thing".

All Hail the fork; meh the merge and the pull. Don't lurk on a mailing list (A mailing list! Get with the times!), ask drive by questions on Stack Overflow. Don't use open tools and collaboration s/w, use cool proprietary systems and software (lock in? what's that?)

Yeah, I'm a greybeard, and I've been part of the open source movement for awhile, having at least some small part in its success. "Wasn't the whole idea of the open source movement, in some way, to make it the default, to move software and software development to align with the goals and ideals of Open Source? Wasn't it, after all, to make Open Source a success?" people will say. "Well it is! So what are you complaining about?"

I am not complaining about the success of Open Source. What I am complaining about, what I am worried about, is redirection of the movement in a way which destroys the successes by ignoring the history of the movement. What I am worried about are people ignoring the lessons learned, and the wisdom obtained during the decades within the movement, by people who don't understand it, but think they do. What I fear is the increasing "influence" of so-called open source experts today, who dismiss what Open Source is, because it is "old" and "outdated" and "that's not how we do things anymore". And I'm angry at people taking a dump on such concepts as community, collaboration and consensus because "that's just too much work".

I'll be honest. IMO, if the prevailing attitudes and "understanding" of Open Source today were around at the beginning of the Open Source movement, then Open Source would never have gained traction. Look at the things that made Open Source popular and successful. It was a keen awareness that code needed to be explicly licensed so people could use it. It was a deep understanding that working together, on a single project, was important, instead of numerous side-projects recreating the wheel. It was a core tenent that people worked on this project because they were personally invested in it, it was important to them, it was personal to them, they volunteered their time and energy on it. It was the balance that communities governed the projects, and companies worked with the communities instead of over them.

Look at all those points, and look at how today, in many ways, they are no longer "important" or "a big deal" to many self-proclaimed next generation open source experts.

You don't honor a movement, you don't carry the torch, you don't keep the dream alive, by ignoring and dimissing the core of what made that movement, that dream, special. Don't turn the Brave, New, Post Open Source world into the Weird Bizarro Open Source World, where it's a funhouse mirror-image of what it could, and should, be.

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