In the previous episode, we discussed open source with Henry Zhu, core maintainer of the community-funded compiler, Babel. We closed on the responsibilities of an open source maintainer and, in this show, we are continuing our discussion with Henry, starting with what responsibilities do open source maintainers have in terms of shaping the future of the projects that they maintain? Henry also shares his views on governance structures, burnout, focusing on new ideas and making time for side projects, as well as accountability versus ability, the individual versus the group, and free will versus obligation. Tune in today!
Key Points From This Episode:
- Henry opens with the incentive to make things more complicated, instead of simplifying them.
- Henry’s goal is to help people understand that they have an impact on the language they use.
- There are different governance structures in open source – boundaries are necessary.
- Cycles of burnout and why developers feel a sense of obligation to open source projects.
- From individual contributor to a maintainer role – some things that Henry found useful.
- What will change the way we do programming is different ideas, not the same ones.
- Henry is giving himself the freedom to think differently and pay attention to side projects.
- Balancing accountability and ability – Henry believes he should have freedom of choice, but he also needs to consider external opinion.
- The individual versus the group – how to distinguish people with distinct views and stories.
- The different types of maintenance work in open source and why roles are helpful.
- Just say no – Henry describes the struggle for maintainers and the dichotomy between free will and obligation.
“Culturally, everyone wants to make their project viral, but then after that happens, it just becomes a burden. I don't want to discourage people from doing open source. Be more real about what the reality is of what you will feel when it happens.” — @left_pad [0:05:50]
“The things that are actually going to change how we're going to do programming is something different, not the same thing.” — @left_pad [0:11:30]
“In open source, maybe we have this good and bad, the whole meritocracy thing, and the whole code is what matters, so why do you care about the person behind it? I think that's good in the sense of it doesn't emphasize people and it shows that it's a group effort. The bad thing in some sense, in terms of funding, would be that the more you make it about the group, the more it feels like no one knows who you are.” — @left_pad [0:17:23]
“The currency of open source is not the code, because you can reproduce that and consume that as much as possible, and doesn't affect maintainers. The thing that you're affecting is their attention and their time. The more people that consume open source, it might mean more people making issues and consuming more time, but it doesn't mean that those maintainers have to do it.” — @left_pad [0:23:46]
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
- Henry Zhu on Twitter
- Henry Zhu on GitHub
- Henry Zhu
- Hope in Source Podcast
- Maintainers Anonymous Podcast
- Enjoy the Vue on Twitter
- Enjoy the Vue
Special Guest: Henry Zhu.