35. Bringing Open Source to Work

 
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By Code[ish]. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Leah Silber is the CEO of Tilde, and she and her company have been involved in various open source projects over the years, from jQuery and Rails, to Ember and Rust. Her belief is that open source work is more than just the programming: it's also corralling issues, finding the right people for the right problems, and more "real world" tasks such as setting up events and conferences. Because of this, she doesn't believe there's a strong delineation between "skills for a business" and "skills for a project." Allowing employees to explore new roles in projects that they love helps their skill set grow, and those skills can in turn make them better employees.

The key to this dynamic is demonstrating OSS values at work. When you treat someone's contributions to projects as an essential parts of their role, there isn't a direct correlation with the relationship between the company and the project. You are investing in the person and the technology, and in the long run, this will benefit the business.

Leah also believes that it's important for open source communities to not have a single point of failure by way of a single company being invested in a technology. If, for some reason, a business' needs shift away from a particular language or tool, the last thing anyone would want would be for an open source project to wither as a result of it. This is another reason why a company backing an open source project should be much more receptive of accepting contributions for contributors.

Finally, by having companies more involved in open source projects via their employees, they can direct and guide the project to satisfy their own business needs. The two entities--company and project--can discuss their needs and arrive at solutions together, rather than introducing fragmentation. What's good for a company may also be good for the community, and what's more, the community may have more stable and reliable implementations for any single company's ideas.

Links from this episode

  • Event Driven is Leah's book about running memorable tech conferences

40 episodes