: New: Open Source, part of the new gig

It feels like Twitter has open-sourced a bigger fraction of its software than Google has. I haven't scientifically measured that; and even so, I hedged with "fraction"—Google has open-sourced a ton of software. It's just that in years at Google, I only found myself writing about open-source stuff a couple of times. I've done more at Twitter in just a few months. (Maybe? By word count, maybe I wrote more about Google App Engine's NDB, which is open-source. But a lot of that writing was reference material. Does that even count? Anyhow: a substantial fraction of my Twitter work has been open-source-y stuff.)

Some projects started at Twitter; some started elsewhere but now get a ton of Twitter love

Working on open source feels good. Some of Twitter's projects have a bunch of enthusiastic users, so that's satisfying. It's fun to see emails from Benjy Weinberger, Mark Chu-Carroll, and others... like old times. It's good to be able to tell people what I do because some of my friends and relatives aren't nearly bored enough.

It makes me wish Google had open-sourced more and done it earlier. What if protocol buffers had come out soon enough such that everyone used them instead of using Apache Thrift? What other open-sourcey things will become the standard? I worry that in a several years Google will be like the GenenTech of data center software, clinging to implementations that it pioneered, but missing out on the shared standards of a world that has moved on. (Prove me wrong, please.)

Open-sourcing things isn't all rainbows and unicorns, of course. Some projects get a lot of love; some get none. Open-sourcing takes effort; if there's not a big uptake, you wonder why you went to the trouble. Since I'm a technical writer, I whine about how to cross-reference from public documentation to confidential internal stuff. Github's README files use yet another markdown variant for me to confuse with the others. I made a git mistake early on and the whole world can see it since the history's out there on teh internets. But these are small potatoes.

It's pretty satisfying.

Tags: programming business

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