Does open source contribute to a more open society?

Many companies say they love open source, but what does that actually mean? Does it mean they use a lot of software other people have written? Does it mean they like that they don’t have to pay for things? Or do they understand that loving open source also means contributing back to the community the code came from?

Let’s start again. We at iwantmyname love open source! And when I say we love open source, I mean that we’re always trying to work and live up to its ethos—to continuously share the things we learn, and to approach challenges with facts instead of emotion. Open-source development is all about learning and developing in the open, with people we may never meet in real life—it doesn’t matter to any of us what we look like, who we are, what our gender is, our race, religious beliefs, or sexual preference. It’s all irrelevant. The only thing that matters is how we can work together to make projects awesome.

Having lived in this environment for many years, I’ve started to apply this same thinking to other parts of my life. With less time these days to contribute to actual code, I make efforts to talk at conferences and user groups, and, even more importantly, to grab coffee with people who ask for feedback (or are willing to give feedback) on ideas, architectures, and random happenings. The open source community I’m in has become a very real community, where the people I know can discuss, in the open, critical business-related things without fear.

But why the trust? Well, open source also teaches ethics—to be able to work and share with a loose team of contributors. You need a level of trust to have someone you’ve never met in person contribute code to a project, and you need the right thought technology in place to create the expectation of not breaching that trust. If that trust is breached, projects get forked, communities split up, and egos clash until everyone gets back to the hard facts and finds new ways of implementation.

At iwantmyname, we not only use open source technologies at the heart of our business, but we also strive to support the cultivation of a community based on the ethics of open-source. We actively do this by working closely with local tech incubators, hosting like-minded user groups and meetups, and sponsoring innovative events like the upcoming OS//OS 2015 conference here in Wellington, which is very much aligned with our core values.

It’s exciting to be part of a brand that makes such a large impact relative to our size, and I love that we’ve been given the opportunity to be so deeply embedded in what’s going on in New Zealand and the rest of the world.