Transparency and relationships
By webmink on Aug 19, 2005
One of the chief things that will make my new job interesting is transparency. All software developers take their work very seriously and personally - it's a craft-work after all. The world of open source software development adds to this a key new element - transparency. It means every insight, every comment - and every slight, every criticism - is likely to find its mark. So is every unintended slight.
Thus a bold challenge to "go ask the FSF" in an OpenSolaris community posting today led to a reply direct from Richard Stallman (so he reads the OpenSolaris forums...), and Gavin's article about the Open Source Office in The Register led to a heated e-mail asking why I thought the JXTA team were unprofessional. Of course, I don't think that and hadn't even implied it, but Gavin's choice of words read a certain way implied it. When I said the JXTA team "just did" open source I meant it was natural and unforced, not that they did it thoughtlessly.
Both are useful reminders for me. As I said, the key change that open source brings about is transparency - it's at the heart of changed business models and also profoundly changes the way software developers relate. At the delivery end, transparency means charging only for the value you add between the commons and the customer. In development, transparency means decisions being open for scrutiny and comments being open to all, for all time. In both cases, it's important to be honest. It's important to be courteous. And most of all it's important to learn to see things through other people's eyes.