Earlier this summer at the Sasquatch Music Festival, someone captured the three minute video I’ve pasted below. One guy dancing to M.I.A. (we love her!) starts what becomes a massive dance mob by the end of the song. The video became an YouTube sensation, with over 2,000,000 views.
Many folks have written interesting posts analyzing the event (here are a few of my favorites) and at some point you’ve gotta stop analyzing and realize this man just needed to DANCE and maybe the rest of us do too. But before we do that, a couple of observations from the place where open source community-building intersects with Sasquatch guy dance mob-building.
Open source folks often talk about transparency as a key part of the open source way. And if you ask most good open source folks when a project should start being open, they’ll say it should be open from the very beginning.
But what does that really mean?
Let’s look at the example of one of the most famous and successful open source projects (and one that is close to my heart), Linux.
Back in January, I wrote a post that broke down the first message Linus Torvalds ever sent out to the world about Linux into some of the key concepts that would become central to the open source way. Linus created a blueprint for the open source culture in the tone of his first email, long before the term “open source” was even coined.
Here again are the first few lines of his initial Linux post from August 25, 1991:
Very cool article in the New York Times yesterday entitled Care to Write Army Doctrine? With an ID, Log On.
The gist is the Army is running an experiment in mass participation, allowing any member of the Army, from five star general to latrine specialist, to edit a test group of seven Army field manuals using an online wiki. From the article:
“For a couple hundred years, the Army has been writing doctrine in a particular way, and for a couple months, we have been doing it online in this wiki,” said Col. Charles J. Burnett, the director of the Army’s Battle Command Knowledge System. “The only ones who could write doctrine were the select few. Now, imagine the challenge in accepting that anybody can go on the wiki and make a change — that is a big challenge, culturally.”
It sounds like the reaction within the Army has been all across the map, some viewing it as an extremely progressive step forward to others thinking the idea is totally crazy. But top Army leadership appears to be behind the idea. Again from the article:
The idea has support at the highest ranks. Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell, the commander of the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., wrote on the center’s blog on July 1, that “by embracing technology, the Army can save money, break down barriers, streamline processes and build a bright future.”
Here at Dark Matter Matters, we give this idea a huge +1. The army is employing some of the same principles we open source folks have employed to great success. A few key parts of the open source way applied here:
At heart, Red Hat is an open source company.
Now that will either mean something to you or it won’t. If you aren’t familiar with open source, there are plenty of good sites that will teach you better than I will.
If you are familiar with open source, you are probably also familiar with some of the key concepts. I try not to be too precise about defining open source. To me, it is basically a DNA soup of related ideas which, when put together, make up the open source way. It is almost like a cultural map for a way of working and operating. Continue reading