Friday, August 31, 2007

Some open (source) clarifications...

Of late, I have been getting a few queries from people asking questions as follows:

"Have you dropped open source programming altogether ?"
"Will you stop coding in Python anymore ?"
"Have you lost interest in opensource ?"

When I thought it caused a confusion and some slight tensions with a friend who commands a lot of respect and trust and is a major facilitator of open source, I thought it was time to put it in perspective by blogging about it.

I think I am myself to blame for some of these confusions, which resulted from a recent post in my blog when I mentioned I am "taking a break from open source".

I did not intend a complete break at all...rather the post was an impulsive reaction. Let me explain.

First of all, I have not dropped open source development. I just love it too much to drop it and it has now become second nature to me after being an open source developer for nearly four years. I *cannot* stop being one overnight.

Regarding Python, it is my favorite language. I can never stop coding in Python. I continue to write open source code in Python, with most of that efforts going towards my open source project HarvestMan, whose 2.0 version is under active development. Even otherwise, my default reaction is to start a Python prompt if I have to perform some simple computation or even an arithmetic calculation!

I have not lost interest in open source at all. What happened was that I lost interest in "commercializing open source" or rather working for entities which focus on commercializing open source without contributing anything back. I had some (what appears to be now) utopian dreams in this respect, and imagined a scenario where such predator companies coexist with the people who spent their time doing open source development and contribute to a greater goal. I have realized that such dreams are pipe dreams and that most of these new "open source companies" are in it to try and make a fast buck. They have no real intentions of playing it long term or making a difference.

However when you associate yourself with such entities, you tend to associate your concept of open source with theirs some times. This was what happened to me. I spent too much time at such a place for my concepts of open source and community development to get polluted and corrupted, which ended up confusing and frustrating me a lot. When I quit, the natural reaction was a general apathy towards everything which was labeled "open source" for a while. This is something like those allergic reactions you get when you are exposed to a change in weather or surroundings; however the good thing is that an allergic reaction is not a permanent disease :)

Thankfully such reactions are not long lasting and I have come out of my black reaction finally. One good lesson I learned in the whole process was to keep my ideology separate from the ideology of the place where I work and not to mix both. If you do that you can avoid feeling frustrated when things do not work out the way you thought they will. An investment of time can be fruitful or fruitless and you may not be greatly affected; however an investment of ideology and principles can be quite frustrating if it does not bear fruit, the way you thought it would.

So, I am back to my good old ways and feeling better about it all. I will continue to be active in open source and help the community (and myself) by contributing any little code and effort I can in terms of my small projects.

I think that renaming my blog to what it was originally might be a good start and that is what I have just done. Thanks to everyone who inquired about this and well, I am being truthful to my good old ways.

No comments: