Community Responsibility and Opportunity
By jimgris on Jul 06, 2009
Last month there was an interesting thread developing on ogb-discuss about the lessons learned from the Townhall session at CommunityOne. The conversation died pretty quickly, though, which was a shame. I think it could have led to some good issues being explored.
In a couple of posts in the discussion, I talked about Jono Bacon`s Ubuntu session I attended at C1 and what OpenSolaris could learn from the Linux community in general (actually, we are already learning even if many people don`t realize it yet). I was trying to promote the notion that the OpenSolaris community ought to take on more community building responsibilities and not depend on Sun so much. That was in response to an observation that the "community" was somewhat lacking at CommunityOne. That may be true to a certain degree. C1 was a large event run by a company, for the most part, but it was intended to benefit the community. Let`s take it. It was a gift. I think that too may people are too quick to look to Sun for everything, which is not realistic and only leads to disappointment because expectations are simply too high.
Sun is doing its part (opening code, funding development operations and global community building programs, running conferences, hosting infrastructure, moving engineers outside, etc), but the community shouldn`t expect Sun to build the entire community at all levels, and that`s the impression I get sometimes from some of our list conversations. I have said that the community needs to assert more of its own community building role for four years now, but it never really resonates on list. I`m not sure why. Maybe I`m just wrong, but I think it`s painfully obvious. Just hang out a bit with the Linux community and you see many layers of communities with no single company in the center responsible for building everything. There are many companies and organizations and universities and individuals, and the attitude is very different. And there is no reason why OpenSolaris can`t grow in that direction as well. In fact, it`s already happening. Companies and large organizations are getting involved, and there are elements in the community that are asserting their role as builders beyond Sun -- the user groups. The OSUGs are helping to diversify community building functions because many of them are now running their own events (in addition to their normal meetings, I mean), and they are growing in their own ways without Sun necessarily being directly involved. This is a model on which we should expand.
Building the OpenSolaris community needs to be everyone`s responsibility and everyone`s opportunity, and it needs to be distributed as widely as possible. This is what we are doing in Tokyo, by the way.