Question from the New Guy!
Dan Whiting | 04 April 2022
“Here’s a question from the new guy”. I have been using this a lot the past few weeks after starting here at the Linux Foundation as the lead editor and content manager. How long can I pull that off?
The reality is that I am new to working professionally in open source software – and really the software/technology industry. But, it has been a long time passion of mine. I spent my formative years in the 1980s and had a drive to learn to program computers. When I was 12, I asked my mom for a computer. Her response, “you have to learn to type first”.
I went to the library, checked out typing books, and taught myself on our electronic typewriter. We couldn’t afford a computer, but I received a hand-me-down TI-994A and then a Commodore 64 with a tape drive. I taught myself BASIC and also dialed into bulletin board systems (BBS) at a mind-blowing 300bps. If you have never experienced 300bps, imagine yourself reading at 10% of your normal pace.
I mention BBSs because, in many ways, they were the precursor to open source software. Someone dedicated their PC and a phone line for others to dial in, share messages, exchange software, answer technical questions, etc.
Fast forward a bit – I taught myself to code enough to get a couple of coding jobs in high school but ended up getting a business degree in college and then working in politics for 15+ years. My passion for software and technology didn’t lapse, but it was mostly a tech hobbyist – taking classes in front-end web development and writing a couple basic web apps, teaching myself some PHP, Python and WordPress development, and reading/writing about software development. And, for the record, I already had a GitHub repo before starting here.
With that bit of background, let me say that I am very excited about working at the Linux Foundation and diving into the open source community. I am a self-driven, life-long learner, and I want to take you along my journey here to learn about what we do, all of our projects, what open source is, how to advance it, and more.
At LF, we embrace what we call the three H’s: humble, helpful, and hopeful. It isn’t just lip service. I see it lived out every day, in every interaction I have with my coworkers. My goal with this journey is to be:
- Humble: There is so much I don’t know about the open source community and the LF. I am learning every day.
- Helpful: I want to be helpful by sharing what I am learning. Much you may already know, but some you may not.
- Hopeful: My hope is two-fold: I hope others learn too; I am hopeful that our community will continue to grow and thrive and solve some of the world’s toughest challenges.
The three H’s are perfectly aligned with the general culture of open source. One of the LF’s onboarding tasks for new employees is to take a class entitled Open Source 101. Within that class they teach us Ten Open Source Culture Cores:
- Be open. Openness breeds authenticity. Be consistently authentic in all of your work.
- Be pragmatic. Action > talk. Work towards measurable value, not obscure, abstract, or irrelevant ideas. (Side note: when I worked in politics, my go-to line when speaking to groups was that I was a bit of an anomaly in Washington, I was long on action and short of talk.)
- Be personal. Always focus on a personal level of service and interaction. People don’t join open source communities to talk to computers.
- Be positive. Highly positive environments generate positive engagement.
- Be collaborative. Involve people, gather their feedback, get a gut check, and validate your ideas. The only problem silos solve is how to store grain.
- Be a leader. Be open and collaborative–focus on the other 9 Culture Cores too.
- Be a role model. Be the person you want to be and you will be the leader other people want you to be.
- Be empathetic. Don’t just be empathetic in the privacy of your own mind. Say it, demonstrate it visibly. This all builds trust. Empathy is a powerful driver for building inclusion, which is a powerful driver for innovation.
- Be down-to-earth. Leave your ego at the door.
- Be imperfect. We all make mistakes. Acknowledge them, share them, and learn from them.
What a great synopsis of the culture of open source technology.
With that, let me close out this week by first stating the obvious – a lot has transpired in technology since my first TI-994A (never mind the fact that my network speed is literally one million times faster). I hope you will join me on my “Questions from the New Guy” journey. Look for weekly-ish blog posts diving into all aspects of The Linux Foundation, our projects, and open source technology.
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