Will >> Will's blog

purpose: Will Kahn-Greene's blog of Miro, PyBlosxom, Python, GNU/Linux, random content, PyBlosxom, Miro, and other projects mixed in there ad hoc, half-baked, and with a twist of lemon

Mon, 16 Apr 2012

Support The Tube Open Movie

I'm very excited about this. It's an open movie being built by friends of mine. The trailer is gorgeous. It's worth watching just to see what's possible with Free Software today.

Mon, 31 May 2010

I quit Facebook

I decided that having a Facebook account primarily for extending the marketing/publicity for the work that I'm doing wasn't worth it. I disagree with Facebook's "public by default" policy and the way they roll out changes to their Terms of Service and privacy settings. I think their recent change to make the ui for privacy settings easier to use (and not require a phd) is a good one, but not good enough for me to feel comfortable giving my data (or that of my friends and family) to them.

I'm also in the process of signing the copyright assignment statement to join the GNU Social project to build a federated system that gives people full control over their data. I'll be looking into building these features into PyBlosxom, as well.

Thu, 04 Feb 2010

Thoughts on crowdsourcing development

Today I read You can't crowdsource software. The title sums up what it's about.

I've had this experience with Miro. We occassionally get patches from non-PCF people but most of the work is done by PCF developers. We've spent a lot of time and effort over the last few years on getting more code contributors and reducing the barriers to entry. We haven't had much success.

However, there's a lot of other "stuff" that goes into developing an application and the article only focuses on code. Some of this "stuff" can be successfully crowdsourced without a lot of effort. For example, Miro crowdsources all of our strings translation work through Launchpad.

I work on another project called PyBlosxom. We have a core group of developers (right now this is me) who do the bulk of the core code work. I do some plugin work, but the bulk of the plugin work is done by users of PyBlosxom many of whom have never touched the core code. For PyBlosxom, plugin development is crowdsourced.

The article suggests that it's a waste of time to help bring new contributors come up to speed and contribute because they often don't contribute much. That conclusion really concerns me. How can we get more people helping out if we're not working on getting people to help out?

Jono Bacon wrote an article titled Project Awesome Opportunity which talks about a few projects that are reducing the barriers to contributing and making it a lot easier. It's very Launchpad-centric, though.

OpenHatch is a startup working on building the next generation of contributors and connecting contributors to projects that need help. They're wrestling with how to effectively fix these problems, but without tying the fix to a project development silo (e.g. Launchpad, GitHub, ...). I think that's really important.

I think systems like these will reduce the effort in getting contributors and make it easier to crowdsource code contribution.

And if you, dear reader, are looking for a project to help out on that's written in Python and need someone to mentor you, let me know.

February 5th, 2010: I should clarify I think the article is fine. I don't think the conclusion that code contribution doesn't crowdsource well is poorly formed or anything like that. Just that the implications suck.

Thu, 21 Jan 2010

How can I help?

I keep seeing people say things like, "I'm not a programmer, so I can't help."

I think this is a common misconception about Free Software. Free Software empowers you. Let me say that again...

Free Software EMPOWERS You.

Miro is a Free Software project and like all Free Software projects, there are a variety of ways that you can be involved. By being involved you are taking the responsibility to help solve your own problems.

You can test nightly builds and release candidates.

You can submit bugs and help us triage and fix them.

You can send in patches. Patches can be for code, documentation, packaging, ...

You can package Miro for other distributions.

You can translate strings.

You can tell your friends and family about Miro and help them get setup. You can blog about Miro. You can dent about Miro.

You can adopt a line of code. This helps fund ongoing development. If we had more funds, we could have more paid developers.

Miro is built and maintained by all of us working together contributing our time and resources. There are features to be implemented, bugs to be squashed, systems and software to integrate with, standards to develop--the future is great with possibilities. There's a lot of stuff that can be done and you can help the Miro community do it.