denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
Denise ([staff profile] denise) wrote2009-07-24 03:51 pm
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So, when Mark first brought up that OSCON was going to be around the time I was going to be out here, I thought, huh. I've always wanted to go to a tech/open-source conference, but I wondered if I'd get anything out of it. It made sense for Mark to go, because he could get useful things out of all the tech talks and network with all of the various people on the tech side of things. (And wait until you guys see what he learned there...) But under the theory of "nothing ventured, nothing gained" -- and especially once I heard that [personal profile] damned_colonial was going to a). be there and b). be talking about Dreamwidth -- I went ahead and registered, too.

I'm incredibly glad I went. I went to a lot of interesting talks, and had some great conversations with a bunch of really smart people who are doing a lot of really cool things, but the most awesome part of it was how so many people had heard about Dreamwidth. People who wanted to talk about the success we've had in encouraging new developers. People who wanted to hear about the lessons we've learned about what to do to keep people enthusiastic and active on the project. (And what we've learned about what not to do!)

It's easy for me to remember that Dreamwidth is a group project -- it's hard not to remember it, in fact, when every day I'm confronted with the evidence, in the form of a bunch of active, enthusiastic, committed people spending an incredible amount of time and energy to improve the code and the site -- but it's hard, for some reason, to remember that Dreamwidth is an Open Source community development project, no matter how much [staff profile] mark and I studied other OSS projects (both successful and less than successful) to see what lessons we could learn. I'm just not used to thinking of things like that; LiveJournal was always on the very periphery of the Open Souce movement, and up until now I've been approaching DW from the business end, more or less, because we agreed that was going to be my half of the contributions to making DW a successful business. I never intended to be sucked into the development end of the project!

So being used as an example of a successful Open Source project -- not once, not twice, but several times even! -- is surreal. And yet, awesome. It all doesn't seem quite real yet! There's a part of me that can't stop waiting for it all to fall apart -- for people to get bored or decide that they have more important things to do or find another project that they'd like to contribute to more than they want to contribute to us -- and another part of me that can't wait to see what it's going to look like in another year. If we're already doing this well, what else could we do?

Looking back at the Dreamwidth development process, and how we got from there to here, I have to say that one thing we did really, really well was actually not "us", but Mark: the fact that Mark took so much time in February-April to do code review, tutoring, and commit work (instead of hacking on his own projects) is what's gotten us here today. The people Mark spent time mentoring back in February are the people mentoring others now. And those people, the ones just starting out with us now, are going to be the ones teaching others in another six months or another year. I know Mark was frustrated at how slowly his own development was going back then, but he said to me, multiple times, that no matter how frustrated he was about not having as much hack time as he'd like, he knew it was going to pay off in spades.

(Which it has, and I am so, so incredibly lucky to have [staff profile] mark for a partner in this venture, because he gets it. I am thankful for Mark daily. He's a fabulous programmer and a great sysadmin, but what really makes him worth his weight in gold is the fact that he writes incredibly readable code, he comments his code appropriately, he writes clear and useful documentation, and he has good social skills. I can't imagine trying to do this without him.)

Even after the past few months of all my dev work, I still don't think of myself as a developer. [personal profile] damned_colonial interviewed me for a documentary on women in open source, and she made me say it out loud: "I am an Open Source developer." Apparently it didn't sound convincing enough, because she made me say it a few times until I really meant it!

I am an Open Source developer. This week has taught me that. I'm not "just dabbling" or "just doing a few things" or "just doing some cleanup". I'm helping to build something that thousands of people are using. I'm helping to run a project that's getting considerable community attention and interest. I'm encouraging other people to contribute to the project, and to learn with our project, so they can sharpen their skills and contribute to a project they feel passionate about.

I am an Open Source developer.

Maybe by next OSCON, that sentence will come a lot more naturally to me. I guess I can spend the next year practicing it. :)
mackiedockie: Wiseguy icon JB by Tes (Default)

[personal profile] mackiedockie 2009-07-25 02:00 am (UTC)(link)
You are, indeed, an open source developer, and looking at the end product purely from a consumer's point of view, a very successful one, indeed.
sara: S (Default)

[personal profile] sara 2009-07-25 02:04 am (UTC)(link)
I am an Open Source developer.

*chokes* Yes, hon, we've noticed.

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princessofgeeks: (Boas by Aylaranz)

[personal profile] princessofgeeks 2009-07-25 02:19 am (UTC)(link)
damned_colonial: Convicts in Sydney, being spoken to by a guard/soldier (Default)

[personal profile] damned_colonial 2009-07-25 08:16 am (UTC)(link)
I was telling [staff profile] denise about that post right before I made her say that ;) I have to say, I got a little choked up reading about you realising it for the first time. Amazing stuff.
kuwdora: Pooka - card 60, brian froud (Default)

[personal profile] kuwdora 2009-07-25 02:34 am (UTC)(link)
You are made of awesome.

EDIT cause I hit enter too quickly! (I blame my low bloodsugar!)

and Dreamwidth is made of awesome. EPIC awesome.\o/
Edited 2009-07-25 02:34 (UTC)
mark: A photo of Mark kneeling on top of the Taal Volcano in the Philippines. It was a long hike. (Default)

[staff profile] mark 2009-07-25 02:36 am (UTC)(link)
We'll be even more awesome in an hour or two.

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stultiloquentia: Campbells condensed primordial soup (Default)

[personal profile] stultiloquentia 2009-07-25 02:43 am (UTC)(link)
I am brimming with happy. I've been noodling around on the OSCON site all week, and pouncing on twitter updates about y'all. :)

Someday I'll learn how to code for real, but meanwhile I'm glad I can help out with copyediting and stuff. I love that you're learning to call yourself a dev, and I love that I've been made to feel like I can be part of this enterprise even though I'm not a coder. There's just -- zero snobbery around here.
damned_colonial: Convicts in Sydney, being spoken to by a guard/soldier (Default)

[personal profile] damned_colonial 2009-07-25 08:17 am (UTC)(link)
Someday I'll learn how to code for real

What's keeping you? ;)

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lone_lilly: (Default)

[personal profile] lone_lilly 2009-07-25 03:10 am (UTC)(link)
I know I've gushed before but I absolutely love this site, love being a part of it in a way I've never felt about any other social network, and only wish I knew how to contribute to it in addition to monetarily.

Thanks for being so awesome. :)

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gchick: Small furry animal wearing a tin-foil hat (Default)

[personal profile] gchick 2009-07-25 03:17 am (UTC)(link)
Look at you, all techly and developerish!
zarhooie: Girl on a blueberry bramble looking happy. Text: Kat (Default)

[personal profile] zarhooie 2009-07-25 03:17 am (UTC)(link)
It never occurred to me that you couldn't possibly *not* be a dev. You've been a dev to me for as long as I can remember (even if it first started as "ok this is bugging me so I'm going to learn to code so I can fix it" sort of stuff).
samvara: Photo of Modesty Blaise with text "All this and brains as well" (Default)

Go you!

[personal profile] samvara 2009-07-25 06:05 am (UTC)(link)
You Open Source developer you!

And yes, your project and product are looking awesome :)
ravan: by Ravan (Default)

[personal profile] ravan 2009-07-25 08:20 am (UTC)(link)
Damn, I missed seeing you. I was prowling the Expo floor Wednesday afternoon. I live in San Jose...
yvi: Kaylee half-smiling, looking very pretty (Default)

[personal profile] yvi 2009-07-25 11:11 am (UTC)(link)
I am an Open Source developer.


Oh my God, I think at some point, but I might be able to say that of myself, too *is scared*

*loves DW so much*
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)

[personal profile] azurelunatic 2009-07-25 11:29 am (UTC)(link)
You're submitting patches and all?

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reddragdiva: (Default)

[personal profile] reddragdiva 2009-07-25 12:25 pm (UTC)(link)
"LiveJournal was always on the very periphery of the Open Souce movement"

That said, they gave the world memcached. Very important piece of plumbing.
damned_colonial: Convicts in Sydney, being spoken to by a guard/soldier (Default)

[personal profile] damned_colonial 2009-07-25 03:13 pm (UTC)(link)
I recall LJ seeming to be very much in the open source movement/community back around 1999 when when was the cool thing. Every second person there seemed to be hacking on LJ. But that was a long time ago, and certainly by the time I joined LJ in 2002 I wasn't seeing that any more.

[personal profile] amethystfirefly 2009-07-25 07:05 pm (UTC)(link)
Yes, you're a developer. And we're ecstatic that you made this place for everyone. It's made of win and awesome!
topaz119: (Default)

[personal profile] topaz119 2009-07-25 07:26 pm (UTC)(link)
I have been skimming the OSCON pictures, looking for a bald chick in a hot pink wheelchair, but so far have not seen you. *g* I did see a pretty good write-up on O'Reilly that mentioned DW (and OTW), to which I quietly waved my invisible pom-poms.

And someday, when I am not swamped, I have notes for you and your tech writing team about FLOSS, with whom I chatted briefly at the STC Summit earlier this year, and who focus on coordinating and creating documentation for open source projects. I know you have a good team, but this might be something they could use in addition to their own efforts on DW.
damned_colonial: Convicts in Sydney, being spoken to by a guard/soldier (Default)

[personal profile] damned_colonial 2009-07-25 10:42 pm (UTC)(link)
Is this connected to the Writing Open Source project/conference/thingy? Emma Jane Hogbin, one of the founders of that, was at lunch with [staff profile] denise and [staff profile] mark and me the other day. Wish I'd thought to connect them on that level.

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chris: (bubble bobble)

[personal profile] chris 2009-07-26 02:40 pm (UTC)(link)
^^^^^^^^^^^^^ *points upward at those who have left comments before me*

Developers, developers, developers, developers...

Like this, only Open Source. *angelic choir noise*
aquaeri: My nose is being washed by my cat (Default)

[personal profile] aquaeri 2009-07-27 12:48 am (UTC)(link)
You're so encouraging! I'm in a trying-to-figure-out-what-I-want-to-do-with-the-rest-of-my-life phase, and I know it has to feel like DW, if you know what I mean.

Which part? "Open source" or "developer"?

[identity profile] 2009-12-27 09:42 pm (UTC)(link)
Hi Denise! What a great post you wrote.

I'm wondering which part of "I'm an open source developer" you had the most trouble with? Is it hard to believe you're a programmer? Or hard to believe Dreamwidth is part of the "open source" world?

From how I read your piece, it seems to be the second one. I read it as you feeling disconnected from the community of people you see referred to as "open source." But I thought I'd double-check!

Again, thanks for sharing this viewpoint!