It's that time of year again. Christmas is upon us and soon it'll be the New Year with all the changes that brings. It's also traditional to look both back and forward at this time of year and as I've been doing that here are my thoughts :)
Personally this year has seen highs and lows with a life altering experience being the main incident that stands out. It really brough home how valuable friends are and how much they can help when the days look blackest. A big vote of thanks goes out to all those in the open source community who were there for me when I was in need (they know who they are!) :)
In terms of my involvement with open source the year has been mixed. I've been quite depressed by the way that anumber of projects I was/am involved in have changed over the last 12 months - mainly for the worse. One of the things about the oss community that I always liked was the way that people were allowed to express opinions and a level of respect was given by the rest of the community. This tended to lead to a nice collaborative environment in which good work was possible and even encouraged. Over the last 12 months I've seen this ideal disappear and be replaced by an attitude towards people and ideas that borders on the aggressive. Left unchecked this change is truly destructive and could well be the start of the end of many projects and their associated communities.
My day job requires that I have the ability to work with a diverse group of people in a challenging environment, often with situations that can rapidly escalate into problems. It's amazing how often a misspoken word or a percieved slight can cause communications problems. Email compounds this vastly and if I had a dollar for every time I've seen this sort of problem this year I would be a very rich person indeed. Quoting people's emails out of context or missing relevant sections ot alter the meaning is a common tactic used by some on mailing lists. Such tactics are ultimately self defeating and cause untold harm to the community. Given that the communities in general feel that they are mature enough to control and police themselves (and some have reacted violently to suggestions that more oversight would be a good thing) then these childish tactics don't fit with this vision - so why do people continue to use them? I suppose if I could answer that question I wouldn't be sitting here about to go to work :)
As for the coming year, I'd like to think that we (the internet community) would start to exert our power a little more. We are a large group of people with a diverse set of interests and desires. This gives us untold power. What do we do with it? Very little. There are many places where people complain about things, but very few people do anything about it. Companies exist by selling products to make money. If the community got together and decided that they were going to send a message by boycotting a product this would be a clear signal that couldn't be ignored. Email campaigns are all well and good but they are easily ignored. Slashdot is a great site for geeks, but how many CEO's care about the contents of it's stories? Maybe 2003 will be the year we finally get a clue and start to exert our muscle. Obvious targets include the copy-protection of CD's.
Maybe if everyone who owned a computer stopped buying CD's for a month the companies would get the message? Maybe if we stopped buying just the CD's with the protection we'd send a clearer message? I think so and if anyone has a link to a web site that gives details of which CD's are so protceted I'd like to know :) January 2003 would be a good month to start with!
Well, that's some of my random thoughts about the year past and the year to come. I'm involved in some projects that will hopefully reach releases in the first 6 months of the year and so I forsee me being busy for quite a while to come!
Happy coding :)