Linux

This tag is associated with 7 posts

Why the open source way trumps the crowdsourcing way


A while back, I wrote an article about why the term crowdsourcing bugs me. Another thing that drives me nuts? When people confuse crowdsourcing and open source. My friend David Burney wrote an interesting post on this subject a while back highlighting the differences.

It finally hit me the other day just why the open source way seems so much more elegantly designed (and less wasteful) to me than what I’ll call “the crowdsourcing way.”

1. Typical projects run the open source way have many contributors and many beneficiaries.

2. Typical projects run the crowdsourcing way have many contributors and few beneficiaries.

crowdsourcing diagram

It’s such a simple concept, it seems obvious. Let’s look at a few examples to illustrate why this simple difference means so much.

[Read the rest of this post on opensource.com]

Five questions about building community with Chris Blizzard of Mozilla


I’ve always been a fan of the Mozilla Foundation, and not just because of the Firefox web browser. As catalyst for some of the great communities in the open source world, Mozilla is something of a recipe factory for what to do right when it comes to building community. As it turns out, Mozilla’s Director of Developer Relations, Chris Blizzard, is a long time friend of mine.

In fact, this is not the first time I’ve interviewed him– my first Blizzard interview experience was back in 2002 when Mozilla 1.0 came out and he and I both worked for Red Hat.

I spent some time with Chris to discuss his experiences and learn more about community-building the Mozilla way.

1. When I first met you ten years ago, you were a Red Hat employee with a day job keeping the redhat.com website up and running, and, even then, you were hacking on Mozilla for fun in your spare time. Now you run developer relations for Mozilla, and you’ve had some other amazing experiences, including working on the One Laptop Per Child project, along the way.

It strikes me that you are a great case study of someone who has achieved success in the meritocracy of open source by doing good work. Knowing what you know now, if you were starting from ground zero as a community contributor, how would you get started?

That’s kind of a tough question because I don’t have that perspective anymore. I know too much about how these communities operate to be able to answer that with the fresh face of someone new to a project. But, honestly, I think that that if I were to guess I would say find something that you’re passionate about and just start working on it. My own case is instructive.

[Read the rest of this post on opensource.com]

Is Jaron Lanier just a hater, or should we be paying attention?


Last week, my friend Greg DeKoenigsberg posted an article about Jaron Lanier’s negative comments regarding open textbooks. At almost very same time, I happened to stumble upon an article Jaron wrote back in 2006 criticizing Wikipedia.

The common theme is Jaron taking issue with what he calls “online collectivism,” “the hive mind,” and even “digital Maoism” (ouch!). You might call this same concept “crowdsourcing” or “the wisdom of crowds.” It’s all in the eye of the beholder, but the guy clearly does not have much love for wikis or the works of collective wisdom they create.

So I had to ask myself: Why so negative, Jaron?

Is Jaron really a hater of free culture, as Greg claims in his article? Is he an enemy of the open source way? Or is he just a smart dude warning us about the risks of taking the wisdom-of-crowds concept too far?

You Are Not A GadgetFortunately for us, Jaron published a book earlier this year entitled You Are Not A Gadget. So I took a few hours and read it last week to see if I could answer some of these questions.

At times, the book is scary smart, with precise analysis from a man who clearly questions everything, and is in a better intellectual position to do so than most (the section on social media and its redefinition of friendship is especially interesting).

At other times it read like a college philosophy term paper. And occassionally, especially toward then end, it devolved into nearly unintelligeble (at least by me) ravings about things like “postsymbolic communication” and “bachelardian neoteny” (Michael Agger’s review in Slate calls him out for this too).

But wait! Right near the beginning of the book, I found this paragraph:

“Emphasizing the crowd means deemphasizing individual humans in the design of society, and when you ask people not to be people, they revert to bad, moblike behaviors.”

Hey… I kinda agree with that…

[Read the rest of this post on opensource.com]

Brand positioning tip #7: don’t abandon your strengths


One nice thing about this new gig blogging over at opensource.com is it gives me some room to go back to my brand and culture roots here at Dark Matter Matters. So today we return again to my favorite subject: brand positioning.

Specifically, I want to cover one of the scariest brand positioning mistakes a company can make– abandoning the position that got them where they are before they’ve established a credible new position.

You’ve seen it before. You walk into a meeting with a new advertising agency or an overzealous marketing executive, and, with great dramatic effect, they say something akin to this: “We are not in the toilet paper business! We are in the cleansing and renewal business!” Then they pause and look around, waiting for the cheers and high fives to start as people salute genius.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe strongly in establishing a higher purpose for your brand. And I think it is fantastic when brands are aspirational. The mistake is not in extending your brand position– in fact, we’ve covered some good tips on how to do it responsibly in this post and this one.

The mistake is abandoning the position you already own in the customer’s mind before clearly establishing the new position– in their mind, not in yours.

I’ve shown this chart inspired by Kevin Keller (one of my brand positioning mentors) before, but it is directly relevant here.

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Is open source creating jobs?


On the heels of last week’s White House Jobs and Economic Forum, President Barack Obama announced a series of job creation ideas today in a speech at the Brookings Institution.

As I mentioned in my last post, Red Hat’s Jim Whitehurst was one of two technology industry CEOs who attended the White House forum last week, the other was Eric Schmidt from Google. Two things Red Hat and Google have in common? We are both strong supporters of open source and we are both hiring.

But this morning I had another thought– beyond the jobs at Google and Red Hat, are we– and other companies in the open source community– helping create jobs at a broader level? Meaning, are the products, services, and innovations of open source companies creating job opportunities for people who use what we make?

To find some data, I turned to Indeed.com, a search engine for job seekers that also has a fascinating job trends tool you can use to search on how often a particular term appears in job listings.

As a baseline data point, I looked at the chart for “receptionist,” a common job that might be a decent bellwether for job trends. The chart looks pretty much like you might expect:


receptionist Job Trends graph

Not great news for any receptionist looking for work. This term had once appeared in almost 2% of job postings, now it is hovering right below 0.8%.

Next, for some overall industry perspective, I looked at their page on Information Technology job trends. Not a lot of good news here either, unfortunately. These two pieces of information were disturbing:

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What can community leaders learn from dancing Sasquatch guy?


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.

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Does transparency really have to start on day 1?


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.

Linus_Torvalds.jpegBut 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:

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