Participate in the open source community through blogging


Stepping out with my first blog post here. Where to begin? How about with a question: What is the importance of a blog post, especially one covering some aspect of open source? There are loads of people doing it. I believe it is simply a means to share a perspective and to entice others to do the same. Ultimately it is an individual's way to be a "good" citizen in the wide world of information and, more importantly, knowledge.

There is a lot being said about community, free-loading, and the bold new world of commercial open source in the blogosphere. The open source community at-large, without a doubt, is a meritocracy; your status is directly proportionate to your input and not necessarily your consumption. I won't attempt to rationalise the different "qualified" forms of input; instead I will just add to the list by posting relevant information, ideas and opinions to a blog.

At Accenture, the number of citizens that have the potential to contribute to the open source community is immense. But as a systems integrator, we often work in client environments or behind firewalls and are sometimes constrained by contractual boundaries from providing input into the open source arena.

This isn't to say we can't produce—we have and we see our clients’ growing interest in open source as an opportunity to contribute more to the community.

System integrators alike know there is value beyond just what we actually deliver to our clients. But given the inherent types of intellectual property constraints, how do individuals contribute to the citizenship of the organisation as a whole? Perhaps by blogging?

For me, blogging is a rudimentary way to share in our trials and tribulations relative to integrating and collaborating with open source projects as well as commercial efforts. There is great potential for this type of knowledge-sharing through blogging.

Of course the content output is relative to the quality of input. As a software engineer, I tend to slide to the technical side of open source and details of the projects themselves. Rather than just opining about industry, blogging about the credence of open source through a more pragmatic approach is arguably a good input.

Also, given my engineering nature, I like to look at the power that open source frameworks, like Rails, Grails, Django and Spring, have on developmental performance in addition to their cost/availability benefits.

Is my thinking here realistic? Is blogging itself a form of open source contribution, assuming the topic is open source? Does blogging affect my citizenship status?

Ultimately, an integral piece of open source is the basic assumption that someone else shares your problem, and has already solved it. (As an aside, I am curious what people think about posts covering a particular capability found in a framework or platform.)

It all begins with a search and generally ends with a blog post covering the topic. The blog will either lead to a project, more documentation, or up-stream solution.

Although this isn't unique to open source software, in open source that blog post is an important community contribution—no different than a source-patch submission, entering wiki documentation or communicating in a mailing list.

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