[BLOGPOST] The way we work in the OSCEdays, or what is Open Source? [published]


#1

Update Blogpost published on March 2, 2016


META

Here is the Blogpost suggestion about “The way we work”. I am pretty excited about it at the moment and have the feeling, this Blogpost should have been written months earlier!

What do you think about it? Anything to add?

And if you think it is good already, can one of the native speakers work on the language? @Gien @cameralibre @sharmarval @Silvia Update: @Silvia did it.


BLOGPOST:

[HEADER-IMAGE: OSCEdays Forum Screenshot]

Title:
#The way we work in the OSCEdays or: What Is Open Source?

###(1) Open Source Workflows

Many people think of open source as publishing building plans, after you have made them – for others to study and use. But in fact this is not really the story, at least not in most cases. Especially not in the world of software where ‘Open Source’ was coined.

Instead you should think about it like this: working on open source is like a regular project where you work alone or in a team, with one little difference, you do it in the open.

When you work with a team on a project in a company, a university or in a hobby project, you share information and resources needed to get the work done with your team. This might be data sets, design files, software code, protocols, lists, decisions made etc. You make the information accessible to your collaborators, in an editable format – so they can use, update or adapt it. And get the work done.

In open source you do basically the same thing, just in public, all the time. The conversation in the project and all its files and resources are publicly visible and accessible. It is not about making it public afterwards. You don’t write an email and publish it later, you post the email in a public mailing list.

###(2) OSCEdays and OSCE association

This is how we work at the OSCEdays and OSCEdays association. We don’t use email, we use our forum. The forum is our project management tool. There we do our work, transparently, available to be followed by everyone in the community. Meetings, project data, resources, protocols, design files, discussions … it is all there in public (with the exception of personal and partner data).

And if you scroll through the forum you see city categories. They are available for local communities that want to use a similar style of open workflow to organize their local events and activities. Some organizers did this last year, like Berlin, Barcelona, London, Vienna and Mouans-Sartoux.

[IMAGE: Screenshot of OSCEdays Forum. Image text: ‘OSCEdays Forum’]

The same method applies to challenges as well. If you post a challenge in the forum, don’t think about it as broadcasting. Think about it as structuring your task for you and your team allowing and enabling you to work on it – organizing a work environment. This is what will make the information really useful.

###(3) Advantages of the Open Source Collaboration Workflow

Here are some of the advantages or effects of this way to work (for us in the OSCEdays):

  • Empty inboxes: We prevent a lot of emailing! The OSCEdays happens (almost) entirely outside of our email-inboxes. We go to the forum, when there is time to do OSCEdays work and don’t get it mixed up with other projects or stuff.
  • Better onboarding of new collaborators: If new people come on board, we don’t have to explain things every time. Because everything is already publicly documented – we can just give them links or they find them by themselves, and can learn how the work is done and what are the tasks to do. Onboarding new people is much easier! We can be more inclusive. Plus the information is also there for people who never actually would ask for it, but still might find unexpected ways to become part of everything because the information is there.
  • Easier to work with at a later date: being in the open might encourage you to be clear and tidy from the start, especially if you want allow also others to make sense of everything. Also Future You will benefit from that.
  • Balanced power structures: ‘Knowledge is power’. Often in a project the person with the most knowledge about it has some kind of power. This person is too important! When everything is publicly available, everyone can catch up and this position of power is less important. The project is more stable, it has fewer points of failure, people are easier to replace, and the project is more trustworthy and less hierarchical.

For me, the OSCEdays workflow is a great experience! In the beginning, learning how the forum works was a small hurdle, because the technology we use (discourse [LINK]) is very powerful. But it is worth it to push yourself through it. I am sure that our open source workflow makes us much more efficient. The OSCEdays is a complex project and with the limited resources we have, it would not have been possible to come this far with a closed workflow.

In recent decades we have seen open source proving itself in most cases as the superior development model for software!

That’s it for a general introduction. If you dive more into it there are new questions and possibilities which emerge from working in public; for example about the tools to use or licensing practises. We will post about these issues in the future, but if you can’t wait, here is a little text about ‘Documentation in Open Source’ [LINK] from our Open Source themed calendar which will introduce you to the idea of “forking”.

Read More: ‘Documentation & Collaboration in Open Source’

–––
(Updated - adding to the end)

###No, that is not Open Source!
Some people will say what I just described is NOT Open Source. And of course! If you start to play football on an ice field instead of grass it will no longer be football. You will need new rules and others will stop to make sense. New things are interesting to achieve. People might start to wear different clothes and so on. You will end up a whole different game … But in its core it will remain the same, that you somehow started to play football on an ice field instead of grass.


[BoST CALL, February 29, 2016] – General provisional BoST meeting No 8
[TASK 2016] Blog Planning up to June
#2

Thanks @Silvia for taking care of language issues. :smile:


#3

Ah, just thought of a funny thing to add on the end:

“Some people will say what I just described is NOT Open Source. And of course! If you start to play football on an ice field instead of grass it will no longer be football. You will need new rules and others will stop to make sense. New things are interesting to achieve. People might start to wear different clothes and so on. You will end up a whole different game … But in its core it will remain the same, that you somehow started to play football on an ice field instead of grass.”


#4

Cool @Lars2i. Yip, I think it’s good too. I made a few minor edits for grammar / readability.


#5

I made a few minor cosmetic & language changes, but I think it’s great.

One other aspect which you may or may not want to include (maybe we could write a separate short blog for later) is that structuring your work for collaboration makes it much higher quality, more organised, and easier to work with at a later date.
When working for collaboration you think about how to make things clear and understandable to others who may not be familiar with what you’re talking about. An unexpected consequence is that one of those people you are being organised and informative for is Future You. You’re going to forget so much context about whatever it is you’re working on, that in a year or two when you want to find or understand something you were working on, you will be thankful that Past You was such a kind and thoughtful person to keep things tidy and clear.

As an example, look at my Frag Den Staat animation project repository. It’s the tidiest project folder I’ve ever created :relieved:
But I didn’t create it in the open. Before I open sourced it, it was chaos, I wasn’t thinking about making it understandable to others, so I was just throwing components all over the place, putting things in the wrong folders, giving things uninformative names that would ‘do for now’. Unfortunately those names and folder arrangement stuck. Things were scattered over different drives, I didn’t know how components interacted.

A year later I had to go through a slow and painful cleanup and documentation process, rediscovering and reverse engineering my own work in order to open source it. I had no idea what Past Me was thinking! Past Me was an idiot! Damn you Past Me!!!
So now I have decided to always, always work on animation projects using a git repository, whether it is public or private, and treat it as an open source project, even if the only person I will collaborate with is Future Me.


#6

I was looking through the Mouans-Sartoux documentation the other day (Hackpad) and it’s really great. So was the Barcelona documentation. I think it’s always good, when writing blogs, to cross-reference as much information as possible to give the reader a rich experience. This also makes the most use of the content we’ve already produced. So, I think you could include links to the documentation / webpages for these local events.

Also, I was thinking that we need to make more use of the Blog, FB etc as a tool to direct people to the forum. So, I think cross-referencing between the blog and a discussion topic on the forum can be a good way to do this.


#7

Hi all,

thanks. Now with 3 native speakers on it, language should be fine.

@cameralibre - great! I first thought to add your suggestion already as a bit like this:

  • Easier to work with at a later date: If all archives are open, at the same place and searchable as a whole, it is easier to find older information to build upon. And if you create the information in the open you are more likely to make it tidy and clear from the start. This will make it easier to make sense of it later – also for you.

But I decided to not do it. Because in large organizations information is in most cases already produced well - made to allow future use. Every decision leaves a huge paper trail and there are often clear rules how to create the trails which will also allow to make sense of it at a later date. So this point might not be seen as a real difference and for shortness I left it out.

Update: Ah, changed my mind. The bit is too good Sam! Going to include this:

  • Easier to work with at a later date: being in the open might encourage you to be clear and tidy from the start, especially if you want allow also others to make sense of everything. Also Future You will benefit from that.

@sharmarval - jeep, I planned to set Links to all this local events in the forum anyway. Don’t know why I did not include the usual [LINK] into the draft.


I also added the bit about “football”.


Ok. I will place it in the Blog now (hopefully already today) - and we are ready to publish :slight_smile:


#8

Published - on March 2, 2016

Now let’s spread it


#9

wow. yesterday on publishing day the blogpost received only 27 clicks - at least 5 of them from me when sharing the link. Let’s spread it a bit more.

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