Open source is supposed to make users happy (except when it doesn’t work). It’s supposed to make their developers happy (as long as it scratches their itch.) But it has been causing me angst.
I don’t get to write any.
Of all the years I’ve been working with free software/open source, I have only been hacking bits and pieces. I did write one thing that seems to have found its way into many project. A little ego trip. And, almost everything I did was work related. I never got to scratch a personal itch. I think back and realize, perhaps I didn’t have that itch at all.
In the past few months, I thought that I should get back to writing open source. For pure fun.
But the fun didn’t come. It never had a chance. I did not get motivated. Now I realize, I wasn’t really interested. I was just feeling guilty, feeling obliged.
I felt obliged because the Philippines doesn’t contribute much to open source. There are some significant people and companies who do, but in absolute terms it’s just a drop in the bucket of global open source contribution. This has been discussed before, in PLUG (Philippine Linux Users Group). The conclusion was, in the Philippines, the people who have the skill to contribute to open source need to make a living. If they had extra time, they would work on a sideline. Students could do it, as there are programs like Google Summer of Code that help. But someone told me, students are lazy.
I still want to help. I still actively use open source products – and thus help, as a tester. I’m not much of an advocate anymore. I have grown tired of it. Perhaps in other non-coding, technical ways.
In the PLUG thread that discusses this, the post that kicked off the topic was all about using open source to add to the portfolio or resume. At this point in my career, writing open source won’t help much. But I hope younger folks would find it useful.