Pluggable architecture, not just for code

hands

photo from Chris Zakorchemny

One OSCON session that made me think was “Does Open Source need to be organic?” The panel contained Brian Aker (MySQL), Rob Lanphier (Linden Lab), Stephen O’Grady (Redmonk), Theodore Ts’o (Linux Foundation). The session was less about business vs. community, and more about how to increase community involvement in your projects.

Brian Aker mentioned Launchpad, and the way that it handles code forks. Forks are integrated into the system using a new revision control system – Bazaar. The forks are front and center – allowing all developers on the project to add forks and update them, incorporating them in with the primary code distribution point. This model reinforces the idea that forks are natural and can be positive evolutions in open source projects.

My big take-away: If you want to increase community contribution to open source projects, provide public and easy-to use interfaces. Publish your API early and create pluggable interfaces! Let developers add functionality and publish their add-ons easily, both in your project’s development space and on their own.

The same principal can be applied to the people side of open source projects. In your organization, make roles, tasks and responsibilities transparent. Let everyone – inside AND outside the project – know what they could be doing to get things done. The mistake that many projects make is assuming that people know what they could be doing.

Think of the people-side of projects the same way as you think about the code. Documented APIs are the same as public mailing lists, blog entries and wikis that reveal what your organization is actually doing, and how new people can get involved. Roles and titles that are meaningful let people know who they should bring their ideas to. And that lowers barriers to participation.

Leadership is not just telling people what to do – it’s inspiring, facilitating and then getting out of the way of people who are willing and capable of doing things on their own. Community grown from inspiration, and then fed by encouragement, fun and recognition of accomplishment, are the ones that last. And these communities are the ones that I want to be part of.

twittering on 2008-07-29

  • @gorthx no feedback online – just good convo #
  • @tmagee he runs a project mgmt mailing list you might be interested in. Will fwd details to you via email #
  • @kmazz scary! Glad to hear he is ok. #
  • done with powells gorging on Spanish and guide books. ‘hot! Spanish for guys and girls’ is my fav so far #
  • no gender differences found in math performance: http://www.news.wisc.edu/15412 #
  • sleepy sleepy. will start that mailing list tomorrow… #

twittering on 2008-07-28

  • Done a powells, next stop probably is roots! #
  • @schwern meet us at greendragon later! #
  • Talking Portland tech at green dragon – we need a local tech conference for and by pdx #
  • not feeding the troll much and considering scotch #
  • @xolotl is here and causing problems #
  • RT @emmajanedotnet: my slideshow was just highlighted as an “of the day” on slideshare. I can has faer #
  • Reading oscin evaluations for my talks #
  • @petdance I got a few good ones :) the best feedback prolly came from the UG BoF though – stuff I’ll use to
    make the preso better #
  • @markgross go to register then your account and the speaking tab on the oscon site. Should be a link to “view full details” #
  • @tmagee good to see you last week. You’ve checked out Scott Berkun’s discussion list, right? #

twittering on 2008-07-27

  • Probably headed to roots brewery for a short pub crawl with @emmajane – any takers? Probably will head out around 7:30ish. DM me! #
  • our plan was to go to green d after roots :) #
  • Getting ready for trip to the Japanese garden with @emmajane, and then the home & garden version of powells in hawthorne #
  • @KathySierra LOL :) #
  • For @br3nda: http://twitpic.com/5n9a #

Running a Successful User Group

running a successful user group

After the People For Geeks talk, I presented “Running a Successful User Group” with Gabrielle Roth on Wednesday. You can find our slides and our presentation handout over on Bacon and Tech. The handout is pretty cool, take a minute and print it out!

twittering on 2008-07-25

  • Listening to emma jane hogbin talk about diversity and getting more women to conferences. Hard work makes change happen. #oscon #
  • In does open source need to be organic panel – @brianaker and others, rob lanphier moderating #
  • Organic vs. Inorganic – open roadmap? Contrib from community? Code thrown over fence? Helps determine what business models are avail. #
  • OH “corporate sociopathic Drucker crowd” #
  • @brianaker says launchpad is cool because they have a managed way of handling forks – finally it’s easy to do this w/ distributed rev ctl #
  • @mherrick66 try launchpad! #
  • Commit access means that you’re the garbage man – it’s not license to push features #
  • Panel keeps emphasizing pluggable architectures :) #
  • @stewartsmith in keynote #

twittering on 2008-07-24

  • @ian_b thanks! Glad you liked it! #
  • At #oscon scoring coffee #
  • Ugh. These slides are terrible! Someone should have gone to Damian Conway’s speaker tutorial! #
  • Looking forward to @gnat’s talk about spawning the next generation of hackers #oscon #
  • @Lelonopo I’m feeling exactly the same way. #
  • Liking @divadanese’s bringing up confirmation bias #
  • @gnat shares scratch.MIT.edu #
  • Loving @gnat’s talk about kids and computers #
  • In @petdance’s just enough C for open source projects #oscon #
  • @eggyknap people connecting through tech for sharing, learning, building 1:1 relationships and, ultmately, community. #
  • @eggyknap from there more specific goals: jobs, speaking practice, proj contrib, friends, prof dev, find new developers, mktg, and more! #
  • @Theory of course! :) #
  • 50 people on @aaronthul’s PostgreSQL on drugs talk! #oscon #