An open source free developer can be anyone. It can be someone just taking their first steps into the world of software development, or the tech-genius founder of a multi-billion dollar corporation—and everyone in between. The idea behind the open source initiative is to create a global community of free-flowing information by making public the code developers use, to be then viewed, utilized, or tinkered with by anyone the world over.
The exciting thing about this is a complete transparency in what, though a scientific endeavor, still is a business venture for many developers. It’s so exciting because what open source is saying is it acknowledges human progress as a greater ideal than short term material gains. Anyone can be an open source free developer. You or I could be one, contributing to open source, tossing our lot into the limitless pool of human knowledge and being a part of something greater than the self.
Open Source Free Developer
What it is for something to be considered open source is not so simple as allowing access to the source code. Find the true open source definition off of the Open Source Initiative website.
To distill the points outlined by this definition, each point is promoting freedom of exchange of the functioning product an open source free developer has posted. To be considered an open source free developer, you must adhere to the tenets of the open source initiative, which are briefly summarized as follows:
- Free redistribution – the license placing no restrictions on the use of the code, having no monetary gains for the creator
- Source code – absolute accessibility to the source code
- Derived works – sovereignty of work derived from the original to fall under the same license
- Integrity of the author’s source code – the source code can be restricted in distribution of modified form, but a patch would then be required
- No discrimination against persons or groups
- No discrimination against fields or endeavor
- Distribution of license – the rights are given to all parties who obtain the program
- License must not be specific to a product
- License must not restrict other software
- License must be technology neutral
These are the indelible laws by which open source free developers abide. The core idea remains unchanged: the free exchange of projects to all, building upon each other, but of course, nothing is ever that simple. There are grey areas that muddle the idealistic blueprints initially set out. Even so, the upholding of the definition of what it is to be open source does stay true.
Open source free developers do their work by the belief of it being free, but free in the sense of freedom, liberty, etc, not so much in dealing with free in terms of money. As in there is no money to be made in open source. It is true that once a project is released as open source, the developer no longer holds royalty rights of any sort, but there are other ways for these developers to monetize their products. In the same way open source relies on the altruism of its contributors, the same can be done for the contributors themselves. Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter are a platform for developers to show the public what it is they are trying to accomplish, and those who believe in the developer’s idea can fund him towards that goal. Many other sites besides Kickstarter may be more convenient to a particular set of needs, and crowdfunding itself does not constitute the sole means an open source free developer can get back something for their giving. So be it crowdfunding or corporate funding, there are responses to the issue, if it is so an issue for the developer.
To become an open source free developer in name is easy. As stated, one need only submit something functional under the terms of open source, and then, that developer, just as much as one who has submitted countless projects ahead of him/her, has gained the same right to be called an open source free developer. This is nice, and a good first step, but most open source free developers strive to be more than a microscopic pebble drop in the ocean, or else, why become an open source free developer in the first place?
To become an open source free developer, by the true spirit of the title, the answer is found in the most obvious place. What it is to be an open source free developer. Freedom.
This passage from the book Producing Open Source Software by Karl Fogel elucidates the way an open source free developer should handle his work in terms of the open source community:
“What is necessary, however, is that enough investment be put into presentation that newcomers can get past the initial obstacle of unfamiliarity. Think of it as the first step in a bootstrapping process, to bring the project to a kind of minimum activation energy. I’ve heard this threshold called the hacktivation energy: the amount of energy a newcomer must put in before she starts getting something back. The lower a project’s hacktivation energy, the better. Your first task is bring the hacktivation energy down to a level that encourages people to get involved.”
This term, “hacktivation energy” is what open source free developers need to have in mind while creating a project. Ease of access is the name of the game. What would be the point of granting access to something inaccessible? What needs to happen is the clear communication of what it is the product does with the minimal amount of effort wasted on deciphering it.
The concept of open source free developers exists outside the realm of software engineering, but it is important to remember the concept may not be so easily applied to other professions. For example, in the business world there is a lot of potential lying in wait for the right person who can bring open source to their world too, but so it remains largely separate, perhaps in its current form unable to mesh with these disparate lines of work or perhaps never meant to. In the meantime, open source free developers are emerging from a growing multitude of other fields. Hardware, medicine, and even fashion have taken their first steps towards a more liberal discourse of information among peers.
An open source free developer can be anyone, sharing their ideas with everyone, and doing it all expecting nothing in return. All one needs is an idea.
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