Pondering professionalism at day’s end

It’s 11:30pm at the time of writing, and I’m shutting down the work laptop. It will get fired up again just before 9 in the morning, with the knowledge that I am still behind the scheduleyou know; the schedule that three people might have fulfilled, but I’m doing on my own.

There will be no material thanks for having lifted the mountain in the air single handed. There never is. The primary driver behind doing it has been to produce something I (personally) am happy with. It’s a millstone I have continued to carry since working on open source software years ago.

Once upon a time I was sort of famous.

I wrote one of the first ever open source blog solutions. Over the course of a couple of years, thousands of people installed in on webspace to run their own blog, and then one day my email inbox explodedNovell chose in their infinite wisdom to include it with their webserver software (they never asked me in advance).

Developing the blog script and releasing it as open source software opened my eyes to a very different world than the commercial one so many of us live and work in, and it was both a blessing, and a curseas evidenced by my present efforts.

Open source software is given away freely on the condition that if others use it to create derivative works, they must also make those available as open source. You therefore know that your peers will see what you have done and how you did it. It also means derivative works may extend and improve what you did. The end result is a product built by the community to be as good as it can be, rather than a commercial product built to a budget, and a timescale. Books have been written about the two paradigms (The Cathedral and the Bazaar immediately comes to mindbut there are others).

The open source movement taught me to go the extra mile. Of course, going the extra mile invariably means over-delivering in a commercial sense. It’s an impossible balance to get right.

Anyway it’s now heading towards midnight and I probably need to go watch some rubbish television. Clear my mind at least until the morning when it all starts again.