23 November 2007

Thank You, FOSS

Via GigaOM, I came across a link to this love-letter to Facebook:

Thinking about it, I've rarely used a service that has brought me so much emotional satisfaction...connecting with good friends is a feel-good thing and it is this emotional value that makes Facebook hard to beat in terms of the gratification other services can provide. So much so, here I am even writing a thank you note to the service (I can't remember doing that for any service...I've written about how "cool" stuff is, or how useful some service might be...but "thank you"? Never).

Although I think that Facebook is interesting - but not unproblematic, especially its recent moves - I'd never see it in this light. But it set me wondering whether there was anything comparable for me - a place of digital belonging of the kind offered by Facebook. And I realised there was, but not one that was crystallised in a single service. Rather, I feel this same sense of "connecting with good friends" with respect to the much larger, and more diffuse free software community.

This isn't a new thing. Back in the early years of this century, when I was writing Rebel Code, I was astonished at how helpful everyone was that I spoke to in that world. That stood in stark contrast to the traditional computing milieu, where many was full of their own (false) self-importance, and rather too fixated on making lots of money.

It seems I'm not alone in this sense of hacker camaraderie:

The key thing here is that in all the details, spats, debates, differences in direction and nitty-gritty, it is easy to forget that the core ingredients in this community are enthusiastic, smart, decent people who volunteer their time and energy to make Open Source happen. As Open Source continues to explode, and as we continue to see such huge growth and success as it spreads across the world and into different industries, we all need to remember that the raw ingredients that make this happen are enthusiastic, smart, decent people, and I for one feel privileged to spend every day with these people.

To paraphrase W.H.Auden:

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, FOSS.


Anonymous said...

Nice post Glyn.

Open Source is ALL about community. That's why the most of the proprietary guys just don't get it...


Glyn Moody said...