Release 2: open-source + volunteers => open-source-volunteers

The about 100 prior postings here collectively constitute “release 1” of this project. They are various musings with open source as the dominant theme, written on my own time as an exercise in this new thing called blogging, to see if I could find any value in it, and in the hope that it might provide some entertainment — and perhaps from time to time even some insight — to those who came across it.

Release 1 had as its theme “open source.” Going forward, as we start work on “release 2,” we will have a new — and even more fundamental — theme, that represented by the word “volunteer.”

By volunteer I mean a person who offers a service of their own free will: something that person has chosen to do, not something that is normally expected or that was paid for, though of course one can can choose to do something which is expected and perhaps even paid for. For example, we all have an obligation — and society has the expectation — to educate our children. A special few even care about this so much that they get special training so they help train our children; they are our educators. They are paid for this work, but we all know that they aren’t paid enough, which means they are volunteers. They are giving more than we should expect and we should be thankful for their service.

By “service” I mean efforts undertaken to assist, or on behalf of, educational and non-profit organizations.

I am not talking about efforts to enlist people to volunteer their time to work on open source projects, though perhaps some of that will happen as part of this project.

Yes, open source is a collaborative effort relying on volunteer efforts, but it has become more than that. And all the developers hard at work as I write this don’t need to be told they are volunteers.

But what if a few of the folks with open source skills, especially the open source developers who write the code so many have come to rely on, stepped back from their work, looked for the appropriate opportunities, and volunteered to use their skills on a part-time basis to help educational or non-profit organizations?

And what if some the folks with open source skills realized the success of open source is not just due to the code that has been — and is being — written, but is due in no small measure to the model for team building and collaborative innovation that has been developed and perfected over the last decade or so? That model has both fueled, and been fueled by, the growth of the internet.

And what if some of those skilled developers were being paid to write open source code because their employers needed it to meet a requirement or to further a strategic objective?

And what if some of those employers felt a corporate responsibility to be a good citizen of the community, to encourage and support volunteer efforts by their employees?

And what if some group tried to educate both those employees and their employers on the opportunities to use open source technology to provide new solutions and to start new innovation in the educational and non-profit sector?

I think those are *very* interesting questions. I plan to spend the next few years working with others to look for answers to some of them, doing this work on a volunteer basis as time permits.


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