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Becoming an “open source citizen”

As we’ve begun introducing Open Source Bridge to the community, we’ve described it as a conference about “open source citizenship.” But what does that mean, exactly?

Audrey Eschright, one of the co-founders of the conference, took some time to delve into the concept of open source citizenship:

We’re planning a conference that will connect developers across projects, across languages, across backgrounds to learn from each other. We want people to experience something beyond “how to use tool X” or “why databases keel over when you do Y” (even though those topics are important, making up our tools and trade, and will be a central part of the conference content). We’d like to share what open source means to us, what it offers, where we struggle, and why we do this day in and day out, even when we’re not paid for it.

In order to do that, it seemed important to bridge the kinds of roles we have in open source, user/contributor/owner/institution, getting down to something more fundamental. What else are people who interact in this multi-directional way? Perhaps we’re citizens. Not residents—we do more than live here. We are, like citizens of a country, engaged in the practice of an interlocking set of rights and responsibilities.

For more of Audrey’s thoughts on open source citizenship and the thinking behind Open Source Bridge, read her post “Open Source Citizenship.”

Now, we’re fairly certain that Audrey’s not the only one with ideas on “what it takes to participate in the open source community.” In fact, it’s highly likely that you’ve got your own ideas on open source citizenship. We’d love to hear you talk about them—and so would the rest of the open source citizens.

6 Comments 1 Tweet

3 Comments

  1. Kenny Akridge
    Posted March 2, 2009 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Excellent thoughts.

  2. Scott David Daniels
    Posted June 2, 2009 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    I see the open source ethos as “contribute back if you receive value.” I take this in a global sense, so you needn’t have a balance of zero with everything you use, but rather with the open source world. Before we were calling it “open source,” there was an ethic of sharing knowledge and tools. The idea was to avoid building hundreds of “just good enough” tools yourself. For me a good open source citizen is one who kicks in as well as uses. Personally I prefer the MIT license for my tools, so that I can freely use and offer them wherever I work, but I understand the motivation for the other forms.

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