The creators of open source software benefit people they will never meet in person. The kindness is baked right into the product. I'm a former computer programmer, and whenever I use an open source program I have an appreciation for the hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of hours of work that went into creating the program.
As an open source enthusiast, I apply that same awareness to other acts of kindness I notice in the world. A few years ago I became aware of the sharing spirit of Steve Garfield, a talented videographer and the founder of Boston Media Makers, a no-dues group of media makers in the Boston metropolitan area. Steve Garfield not only shares his knowledge freely and widely within this group, he also wrote a very compelling and useful book on media making strategies: Get Seen.
I asked Steve for some insights into his personal philosophy of living a life of sharing. He sent me these thoughts: "I recently did a presentation at Boston University to graduating students, and Associate Professor Steve Quigley said that I was a great example of someone who thinks GIVE first, then GET. I share as I learn, expecting nothing in return, but receiving more than I give. I test cameras and video equipment for free, because I am truly interested in how things work and sharing what I find out. Many times that leads to paid projects like producing videos or hosting talk shows. All the blogging I do gives people an insight into how I think, how I work, what I'm interested in, and what I like. That leads to making personal connections. That's the most valuable thing you could get from sharing." These ideas that Steve shares are very similar to the ideas of another current thinker, Tim O'Reilly, who preaches to always create more value than you capture.
A few days ago Steve Garfield tweeted that he needed a few more subscribers to his YouTube account so that he could start exploring Wirecast for YouTube —software that turns your personal computer into a small scale, live television studio.
YouTube provides Wirecast to any of their Partners. Given Steve's deep sharing spirit, I knew that I had an obligation to help meet Steve's expressed need. Steve already has more than 800 YouTube subscribers, so reaching 1,000 subscribers should not be that difficult. I asked a few of my YouTube friends to subscribe to Steve's channel, and then I promised Steve that I'd write a blog post to bring his need to a wider audience.
So, if you have a YouTube account, do me (and the world) a favor and click the subscribe button on Steve Garfield's YouTube channel. Even if you don't have a YouTube account, using your Gmail login you can create a YouTube account in just a few minutes. Whether you produce videos or not, having a YouTube account makes you powerful for the exact reason that you can support existing YouTube producers by subscribing to their channel, leaving comments on their videos, and tweeting the best of their videos to your Twitter followers.
You say you don't have a Twitter account yet? What are you waiting for? You can either be an actor on this world or be acted upon by the world. The open source way is to act upon the world. Collectively we can all nudge the world in the direction it needs to be heading in. Legendary folk singer Pete Seeger once said: "If there's a world here in a hundred years, it's going to be saved by tens of millions of little things."
I do not know how far this current blog post will travel, but I'll be monitoring the number of subscribers to Steve Garfield's YouTube channel, and I will not rest until he has more than 1,000 subscribers. And when he starts exploring the uses of Wirecast for YouTube, you can be sure he'll be sharing tips, ideas, and advice freely with others. That's the way he does things and that's why he deserves the support of every person who reads these words. I've done my part. Are you ready to do yours?