Handbook for practicing The Open Source Way


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Imagine you are there on the day of Open Your World forum and listening to all the talks that day, seven hours so far with a few fifteen minute breaks.  You are learning, things are clearer, but all the ways of applying the open source way outside of software may have you feeling a bit lost in a sea of new ideas.

Just in time, the final talk is here, and it presents more relief than just the end of a long day.  It is here to tell you about a handbook called 'The Open Source Way' that is being written by an active community.  It is capturing, in one canonical location, useful principles and how-to information for applying the open source way in your domain of expertise.

(If you do try listening to all the talks in a row, in the original order, you might want to get some colleagues or friends together and make a learning day out of it. Create some discussion of your own to get more value for you.  If you get anything you want to share, bring it back here and add it to the comments, or write it up as a new article.  It's the open source way!)

As lead author, I presented "The Open Source Way", explaining how to use the book.  Each chapter is comprised of a number of small sections, each of which presents a principle (what), an implementation (how), and an example (why.)  The principles are extrapolated from technology situations, and written to apply to other domains, including non-technical ones.

The entire books is self-referential, in that the open source way is followed in everything from how it is written to who writes it.  It is written by a community of experts, but has plenty of room for help at all levels.  The tools used are common and well known open source tools, which reflects the section, "Use lightweight, open collaboration tools - wikis, mailing lists, IRC, version control, bug trackers - and give out access."  The book is designed to be a reference work that can be remixed for others' needs, so it is a new content upstream the way open source projects are code upstreams.

Even with all this, the book is small and focused.  Instead of replacing longer materials, this book is a complement to well-known but longer and deeply focused books.  By intentionally leaving holes in the content, it invites participation.  By encompassing and making general these set of principles, the work is useful to people who are explaining how and why to follow the open source way.

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