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Open source in your projects, in your organizations – in your life?

Umbraco‘s Niels Hartvig called his Reboot 11 presentation “How to start an open source project with and without code”. It wasn’t just about the technology of open source, however; it was about the mind set of open source.

The tips given here have lingered in my mind since Reboot 11. I have seen how they are suitable for organizations who need to adapt to the changing attitudes, perceptions, and demands of their members. There is a resonance with some content strategy pointers from Richard Sheffield‘s The Web Content Strategist’s Bible and Kristina Halvorson‘s Content Strategy for the Web. These strategies for open source can also be used succcessfully in many of the projects unfolding in the alternate climate conference in Copenhagen these days.

I repeat: open source is not about technology; it is about a mind set. You can use these tips for any project, not just software.

This is Niels Hartvig’s to-do list for an open source project.

  1. Open source is hyped, but spend time asking yourself why you want to do it. Are you ready to share?
  2. Ship! Ship when you realize you want to share. Software, visions, physical objects, whatever. Until you actually ship something, you cannot share and people cannot collaborate. Beta is good enough as long as it’s not an excuse for something that is shit. Open source will always be a work-in-progress. That is an OK meme.
  3. Collaborate! To do this, you must be open. Simple, but so hard (for Niels). Open earlier. Sooner rather than later. Not just for small improvements, but for bigger improvements.
  4. This means that you have to respect other peoples’ ideas and input. It sounds simple, but can be overlooked.
  5. Delegate! Open Street Story from last year – why would anyone volunteer to do it? Because they think it is fun. Don’t be afraid to delegate. People love to help.
  6. Give up your ego! You can still be a front figure, but distribute credit to the people who help you. Give them the credit which they deserve.
  7. Realize that others are better than you.
  8. Good habits. You’ve got time for them now!
  9. Define standards now for how you’ll do things such as collaboration.
  10. DOCUMENT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE! And document early.
  11. Make it delicious – don’t have a good product and a sucky website. It’s only the tip of the iceberg, but it makes things look professional.
  12. Management. Simply crucial in any project.
  13. Share your enthusiasm and passion. This is what drives the project. It’s worth more than the salary especially when you live in an area of the world where food and shelter is not a problem.
  14. Be demanding! It will affect everyone, for example, if you have people who don’t follow through on promises.
  15. Bad people are poison to your project. They are a drain – get rid of them. Embrace criticism, but those in the inner circle? Get rid of that negativity. It’s like the plague.
  16. Positive things – focus on them.
  17. DO IT!

Niels Hartvig said it felt right to make open source, which, in his opinion, is a legitimate reason for doing it. The biggest lesson? Build something that is bigger than yourself.

There ARE people out there who are brighter than you – so share! Your project will benefit!!