What watching TV and developing for an open source project have in common

Right now, I’m sitting in Berlin, enjoying the sun & trying to congest the impressions I had so far on this giant trade fair I happened to visit – the IFA.

Focus is on consumer electronics, mainly all kinds of more or less unique new tv sets. People are staring into these goggleboxes & get distracted of their more or less miserable lifes, I thought. The average guy comes home after work & spends quite an amount of time with this complete waste of time.

After this short rush of arrogance, I started to approach it a bit more grown up. I remembered my girlfriend’s comment on my habit of “jumping into that X-Terminal” from time to time when I dive into a serious hacking session.

Wait a minute – does that mean that I have that same habit of staring into a gogglebox & get distracted of my more or less miserable life? Am I coming home after work & spend quite an amount of time with this complete waste of time?

Yes, I’m guilty of all these points – but there is one big difference: It’s no waste of time. And, I am quite confident that my life isn’t more miserable than necessary ;–). I mean, I’m a working class boy who thought his way through an academic system which is so not made for my kind of people – and am enjoying a quite charming professional & private life in a wonderful city.

So what’s the big thing about open source projects when I just argued that – at least in my case – it can’t be distraction? It’s more about the cosy feeling of… the give a little, take a little game.

To be more precise, it’s more like taking a little – for example you use that open source blogging microframework. And then giving a little – like helping to add some functionality you missed in that framework or add some new features.

Sure, I could as well use tumblr and save a lot of time. And perhaps blog a little more and hack on the blog and it’s features a little less. But one important aspect would be missing: I’m doing something for the community. OK, it’s a worldwide spread community. But it sometimes feels like doing some work for your local neighborhoods development project.

What I like most about Open Source Projects is the fact that people spend their time with somthing useful. I like the spirit of the corresponding meetups, the general mood of the scene and the fact that I’m not the only lunatic who spends his working day with software development – and a variable amount of his free time, too.

I have to confess that I’m quite a new face when it comes to open source software – but nevertheless, I guess I described some aspect that are common perception. Sitting here in the Berlin sun, trying to settle my thoughts on the IFA.

One idea that came to my minde recently – how about open source literacy? Technical books are already written using the concept that first applied solely to software. Wouldn’t it be great to write a novel? Or would that lead to a too many cooks spoil the broth situation?

So – what’s your opinion about the subject? Do you agree? Do you love TV and hate Open Source? Tell us, it’s just some keystrokes & a click away.


Sven Kräuter | 5v3n