Nuno Job
Geek. Open-source enthusiast. Shaping the future of the node.js ☁ @nodejitsu. Founder @thenodefirm& curator @lxjs
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My Contribution to JSConf 2012 The Good And The Bad Open Source


This talk is about the good Open-Source and bad Open-Source.

This talk is about how Marketeers and Advertisers are targeting us developers, disrupting our thoughts by sugar coating their products with things we love.



This talk has a lot of quotes from well known graffiti artist Banksy.

I want to show you how much the worries and thoughts of this artist can resemble our own.

If they don’t, I think they should.

There bad actors in our scene sell us silly ideas like "startup life", "web-scale", and normally use FUD as a main argument.

"ACID doesn’t scale!"

They own (or at least want to own) the communication channels we use everyday.

They are cashing in on us, they are selling our info, they are selling the ownership of our free thinking and passions.

For me this talk started some weeks, maybe months ago, when Jan shared this quote from Banksy's book on twitter.

It says that you have no choice whether or not your see an advertisement in a public space hence it belongs to you.

He concludes that asking for permission to change it is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.

What grabbed my attention though was something different. How much the marketers are flooding us daily with notions they want to sell as “truth”:

Soul mates.

Glamorous Air Travel.

Cool clothes.

Heck, they even invented Santa Claus.

Today, more than ever, this applies to us developers. And the favorite word of these bad players is Open-Source.

open-source. community, curiosity & serendipity.

If you think of Open-Source as being free beer, there’s this guy that brewed the perfect beer and he open sourced the formula so people could enjoy what he created. He’s sole purpose was to improve your experience when drinking a beer. And he gives you his formula in the hope that you will further improve it.

In the other kind of Open-Source they give you the free beer just cause they want to get you drunk. Then you wake up next day and you are missing a kidney.

It doesn’t take much to understand that for me, open-source is about the guy that is sharing his formula:

A project that is community lead,

where curiosity drives innovation

and serendipity is the natural instrument for learning and the growth of the community.

A project that doesn’t take pull requests is not Open-Source. It’s a marketing vehicle to get you, the product.

Or like Banksy would put it.

the people who run our cities don’t understand graffiti because they think nothing has the right to exist unless it makes a profit...

  the people who run our cities don’t understand graffiti 
  because they think nothing has the right to exist 
  unless it makes a profit...

story #1couchdb & the public key guy.

Let me tell you a story. I was in working for a great closed source that does a document database that is like 10 years in the future. You can think of it as a database that shares the best traits of CouchDB and the best benefits on ElasticSearch.

I been wanting to share how it worked with the open-source community, mostly to incentivize innovation and see if we could get something like it as an open-source product.

When I was invited to give a talk about it at Berlin Buzzwords I was super happy to share the internals of the product with the community.

The talk was great and in the end I was hanging out with some pals from CouchDB, Dale and Volker. I love CouchDB, it’s a great Open-Source product and I use it everyday. Then a guy approaches us and introduces himself with a piece of paper with some hexadecimal stuff on it.

“It’s my public key” he says.

After talking a bit, this person starts giving me grief for working in a closed source solution. I asked him what database solution he used. He happened to use a GPL licensed Open-Source database on which the company that owns the trademark has all the commits. It’s that kind of read only Open-Source.

Not going into specifics, this shows the power of Marketing. That product is only Open-Source because this company wanted a lot of adoption. A product that doesn't take pull requests.

While I was there to try to share the advances produced in a lesser known, closed source database, I got grief from this kid that didn’t even knew what he was using.

The Art we look at is made by only a select few. A small group create, promote, purchase, exhibit and decide the success of Art.

We are to blame for this.

As developers we perpetuate the cruel joke that marketers pull on us.

We recommend Open-Source projects blindly based on authors, and we promote our own shit even when its broken or not the right tool for the job.

Yes, make people know what your Open-Source projects solve. But also explain what it is not designed to do.

Don’t be a bullshiter.

Stop idolizing and wanting to work in company X, Y, or Z. Focus on the stuff you are doing instead and in your community.

You don’t need an invitation to do open-source, you are already invited.

story #2 stay humble. promote change not brands.

Brings me to story #2.

At Mikeal’s party a bunch of the greatest people I know where there. I remember I was hacking with Paolo and learning some serious node.js when Ryan, the guy that invented node, walks by on Skype with his friends.

He shows us to his friends, and one of his friends asks if we are “smart”.

His answer was amazing, he said

“It’s not like we work at Google or Facebook, we are just programmers”

I don’t think anyone in that would have a problem getting a job at a large tech company, but I was humbled by this answer. We are just programmers.

It taught me:

Stay humble, promote change not brands.

open-source is community.

A bunch of us creates consulting companies, some run conferences, some build awesome Open-Source products, and so on...

These are the nice people.

And, most importantly, you are not the product.

Join us.

Organize meetups, create alternative business with fair business models.

Buy their products, donate to their screencasts.

Stop expecting everything on the internet to be free.

But most of all, stop going to the bad players because of FUD or insurance.

A lot of people never use their initiative, because no-one told them to.

Banksy said people don’t use initiative because no one told them to

So I came to JSConf 2012 to tell you to.

Speak softly, but carry a big can of paint.

There’s no need for negativity, worse yet trolling. but carry a big can on paint

Exercise critical thinking, always.

Thank you.