Yoda: The Open Source Identity Crisis

Cultural Intelligence, Ethics
Got Crowd? BE the Force!
Got Crowd? BE the Force!

Tip of the Saber to Charles Yaker.

The Open Source Identity Crisis

As the diversity in tech movement gains traction, open source faces an identity crisis.


The first story we must look at is: who exactly is an open source contributor? The answer to this seems obvious enough. Open source contributors are hackers. The movement as a whole traces its roots back to Richard Stallman and the hackers at MIT in the late 70s. The hacker identity is a specialisation of the geek identity, which can be seen as a continuation of the scientist and mathematician archetype that stretches back centuries.

But this picture is wrong.

And what I’d like to suggest is that an open source contributor is someone who contributes to open source. Nothing more complex than that. But this coupling of the open source identity and the hacker identity is so strong that most people do not realise a separation is even possible!

This is a big problem for open source, because it divides contributors into two classes. You have the first class contributors (who fit the hacker identity and can code) and then you have everyone else: second class contributors with second class skills. An underclass whose legitimacy (or lack thereof) is judged in reference to the archetypal hacker.

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See Also:

Open Source Everything Manifesto: Home Page