Its a funny old world.
I was wondering whether or not to write about how small and fragile the world of business can make those involved in it feel. I was about to write about someone I know who has just had a deeply unsettling experience in a work environment. Her day has been full of people scoring points off each other, second guessing each others next move – generally behaving unpleasantly under the guise of smartly dressed up business language. Then I decided not to as they will all have been doing the best they can given what they know at this time. No one (and I mean no one) wakes up in the morning and decides to be a wee shit. Whether it is lack of understanding, fear, misguided world views – whatever. People, I believe, mostly try to do their best.
Having decided not to write this I read Doc Searls’, as usual, excellent piece on competition.
A couple years ago I was talking to Brian Behlendorf, who brought us Apache and co-founded CollabNet, about coming up with a way to reward open source contributors to Jabber. I suggested that we look to the peer review process for some kind of guidance, and to best reward those contributors most respected by their peers. “You mean like high school?” Brian said.
He had a point.
I grew up before geeks were programmers. In my day geeks were into electronics. So I was a ham radio operator. The code I learned was Morse. I liked the ham radio culture (which is back there in the modern geek culture evolutionary tree, even though ham radio is hardly extinct). It was a place I could go that was absolutely unlike school, which I hated from the first day of kindergarten until my junior year in college. In the ham world, everybody was curious about you, and eager to let you know something about themselves. Everybody was smart, and assumed you were too. It was a gift culture: Everybody liked helping everybody else, and to do good work in real world emergencies too. The field had its graybeards, but nobody was exceptionally important, other than novices. Bringing people into the community mattered perhaps more than anything other than having fun and doing good work. There was no social caste system. Sound familiar?
He says elsewhere in todays blog that he doesn’t think of himself as a Big Time Blogger. I’m not so sure – he hits the button for me most of the time – I even voted for him even though I too feel uncomfortable with competitions!