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From Jim Jagielski <>
Subject Re: Passion and vigilance in open source
Date Wed, 23 Sep 2015 14:46:15 GMT
Yeah, that's pretty much the way I'm looking at it. To me though, just
as gravity is what pulls the pendulum back down to its mid-point, for
Open Source, it's the "true Open Source" community (or, if you prefer,
the "real" one) which acts as gravity, and pulls the pendulum back
to 'b'. But if that real community doesn't exist, then the pendulum
never swings back.

As long as we are talking mechanical analogies, one I like to use isn't
the pendulum but rather the fly-ball governor on a Watt steam engine[1].
In this case, when the internal temperature gets too high, the spin of
the governor speeds up, which releases steam and the temp goes down; when
the internal temperature goes down too low, the spin is slower, and it
closes a valve which increases pressure and temp... In our case, the
meritocratic open source governance model is the base operating mode (b)
whereas a and c are the 2 extremes. Where I see a problem is when (b)
is no longer considered the "right" or "optimal" mode, and instead
the default "regulated" mode is set closer to 'a' or 'c'; My point is that
this set-point can, and *is* controlled but all the players in the
open source community, but we are in "danger" of 'b' no longer
being the desired mode simply because those who favor 'b' are no
longer active in wanting that... We need to ensure that 'b' being
the correct/right/optimal set-point for "how open source should be"
is always being "pushed", always being fostered, always being nurtured.

BTW: Thx for all the comments, this is VERY VERY useful!

> On Sep 23, 2015, at 2:27 AM, Ross Gardler <> wrote:
> I reckon Jim is describing a different kind of pendulum (see my earlier essay - sorry
I got on a roll with that one).
> Jim's pendulum is something like:
> Let a = autocratic open source governance (vendor owned/benevolent dictator)
> Let b = meritocratic open source governance
> Let c = fully distributed open source governance (GitHub style fork and forget - note
not all GitHub projects are this style)
> The interesting thing is that I don't think we are really at point c, I think we are
really at point a. The numbers point to c but many rock-star projects are at point a. I'd
argue that this goes hand in hand with my argument that open source is currently more about
the business model than the development model. As with the other pendulum I believe this one
will swing back towards the center as those companies realize that there is a glass ceiling
to their growth using that model (if you haven't read Henrik Ingo's paper [1] on this you
> Another interesting point about this spectrum is that while (if history repeats) there
will be a swing past b and towards c this side of the swing is much shorter. I guess because
any "fork and forget" projects that succeed will typically become either an autocratic or
meritocratic project in order to scale.
> As with my other pendulum thought experiment I believe we sit at the "sensible" place
on that spectrum (point b). That isn't today it's the only place that can work, but that it
is where it works for the Apache Way. I think plenty of people still do this for the fun (and
education). Speaking personally a recent change in my dayjob role means that I'm coding for
fun again - so that's at least one person going in the opposite direction to the one Jim sees
is the majority (lucky me!)
> Ross
> [1]
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jim Jagielski [] 
> Sent: Tuesday, September 22, 2015 7:01 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: Passion and vigilance in open source
> I would be OK with us getting older and forgetting the child-like wonder (but I don't
think that's the case; well, we *are* getting older, but not forgetting the wonder), IF we
were seeing the child-like wonder being continued, esp by the next gen.
> Some see Github as "proof" that the wonder is still there; even if so, then it's a different
kind of 'wonder' and one which is risky for the continuation of open source.
> Wonder is not being able to fork a project, make some patches, submit a bunch of pull
requests and then get a handful of them committed upstream... That is so.... solitary. The
wonder is working *with* and collaborating *with* and reaching consensus
> *with* a group of similarly-minded individuals towards a common goal. The wonder is the
community. And I think that that is something which is at risk.
> To me, Open Source provided an avenue that allowed coders (and other contributors) to
finally work together, openly and honestly, transparently and meritocractically (if you get
my meaning); it fostered sharing, but not by letting someone share our toys by playing with
them by themselves in some corner of the sandbox. It was about us all sharing the toys to
build a great sand castle all together in that sandbox, when before we couldn't.
> Are people doing it for fun? Are people seeing the joy and wonder in our eyes? Or are
people doing it just because "that's what I get paid to do"?
> Good questions. Not simple answers :)
>> On Sep 22, 2015, at 4:35 PM, Ted Dunning <> wrote:
>> Jim,
>> Is that really happening?  Is the fun leaving?  Or is it we are all 
>> just getting old and are forgetting the child-like wonder?
>> On Tue, Sep 22, 2015 at 12:58 PM, Jim Jagielski <> wrote:
>>> Some of you may know that I've started a Vlog series on Youtube 
>>> around some topics I find interesting, mostly around open source.
>>> My latest is about the risks around open source today where the fun 
>>> and passion that used to exist around open source is drying up or 
>>> being discounted. Since Apache is one of the still remaining oasis of 
>>> open source being all about community and fun whilst still changing 
>>> the world, I'd like to ask for some thoughts from the membership 
>>> about their concerns, etc... that I can fold into the 2nd part of 
>>> this mini-series.
>>> If so, please contact me directly. I have set the Reply-To header 
>>> accordingly.
>>> Thx!

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