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I swore I would never buy a van

July 26, 2012

As we live our busy lives, the little changes often escape our threshold for notice. A few more grey hairs, crows feet maybe a bit more pronounced… it all happens seemingly at a glacial speed so you don’t notice day to day.

When we look back though it is astounding how much has changed. I found an old backpack of mine from 20 years ago. Suddenly memories came flooding back. I remember why I had to stop eating spaghetti for a few years. The fond memories of driving to the middle of nowhere to use my Telescope until the wee hours of the morning before heading to work in the morning. Looking at my life today – things sure do change!

Open source projects change. They’re born in a moment of intense passion. They get nurtured to grow and if conditions are right, they develop to be strong. For a lot of people, an open source project represents the antithesis of financial interests. It’s about learning new technology. It’s about the elegant code. It’s about the meritocracy. It’s about the camaraderie found in the community.

We swore we’d never buy a van. That was the antithesis of who we felt we were and what we believed in. A few kids later and suddenly a van looks surprisingly appealing. Whether it’s to bring home a bunch of reno materials, holding the shocking amount of kid paraphernalia for a road trip, or just people moving.  Friends, Cousins, Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents… extra space becomes very handy. Suddenly the unthinkable becomes something that we quietly consider. Does this mean we are no longer who we were? Perhaps. Perhaps the new evolved us isn’t a bad thing though. We remember and respect where we came from AND also have gained a a new perspective.

Some open source projects thrive and evolve to the point where its creators consider how to make a living from it. It might need to grow to establish enough critical mass. Ultimately someone needs to pay so you get paid. Nice if they pay you once. Even better if the software becomes core to their business so they’ll keep paying you. People who have money usually tend to be fairly careful about it. The more they have, the more careful they usually are. Suddenly things like which license you picked, contributor agreements, process formality, marketing, and such seem to matter a bit more and are quietly considered. Not just for your project but for the projects your project depends on. You don’t want to have something needlessly hinder your project from being adopted by anyone and especially those people who might help you make a living.

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