#36 Passionocracy?

Posted on Wednesday, Apr 12, 2017
Open source software development isn’t a meritocracy. It’s something different, and it’s got a lot more in common with creative collaboration than you might initially think. That’s what we’re talking about in this episode.

Show Notes

For a long, long time we’ve heard pretty regularly that one of the appealing things about open source software development is that it’s a “meritocracy”. That is, solutions are evaluated on their own merits and the best solution always wins. However, I’m not sure that I think that’s really an accurate description of what really goes on in open source development. In fact, I think it’s a lot more like many successful creative collaborations out there. An idea tends to win because there’s a person there… and not just as an advocate, but as someone willing to do something. To write code. To create documentation. To design an interface.

In most cases, authority is ceded to whomever has the most passion for a given idea. And in scenarios where passion is roughly equivalent between parties, that’s where forks happen.

At least, that’s how I see it. I go into a bit more detail in the episode, but I’m really curious what you think about this notion. Do I have it right? Am I just stating the obvious? Am I way off-base?

Also, if we assume that this is the current state of things, is that the most desirable state? Should we be pushing for something else? I kind of like the idea of a passionocracy. Historically, I’d say it’s tended to yield pretty positive results. What do you think?

Also, at the end of the show I mention that I’ve started trying out Mastodon, a social network that’s a bit like Twitter, except it’s free, open source, and decentralized. I’m still feeling my way around there, but if you want to connect with me, I’m @monsterjavaguns@mastodon.cloud (of course).


Jason van Gumster

Jason van Gumster

“I make stuff. I make stuff up. On occasion, I stuff-up what I make. I don’t do much stuff with make-up… though I’m not above trying. I work in all kinds of media: words, animation, ink, coffee, wood, video. And, of course, I’m really passionate about open source and open content, so that’s what I talk about in this show. Books I’ve written and other creative experiments I’ve made can be seen on monsterjavaguns.com.”