Why You Should Open Source Your Thinking

Open source software (OSS) has transformed the technology landscape. I can’t imagine any software company build without OSS at the core.

What makes OSS magical is the serendipity of how it’s created. Someone throws an initial idea on the internet, and if others have the same problem, they join in and organically refine and improve the original idea. Others silently lurk into the project, start using it, and run into some bugs or edge cases which they report (and sometimes post a fix for). Before you know it, there’s a robust piece of software that has been tested under a variety of circumstances by experts around the world.

Amazing.

Blogging has similar properties. Someone can post an idea, which is then improved upon or augmented by the community. Unlike software, the mechanics (i.e. GitHub) don’t easily exist to collaboratively discuss a particular part of the idea or concept that is being written (what a cool product that would be! Holloway is doing something similar).

I think posts written as a breakdown of someone’s thinking on a particular topic, without any hidden agenda, have the best chance of creating the OSS dynamic. For instance, by reading Stephen Wolfram’s explanation of his productivity system, you’ll probably end up tweaking your own working style or adopting some of his tricks. Reading how someone else learned a programming language┬ámay change how you approach learning. A packing list for a family with four kids┬ámay help augment your own travel strategy and inspire you to travel the world with your kids. Reading how someone manages their finances, consumes information, purchases insurance, will help you revise and improve your own processes.

I think of these posts as “open sourcing your thinking”. Documenting how you approach a specific topic with enough detail and vulnerability helps you clarify your own ideas but more importantly allows your ideas to be critiqued and improved by the larger internet community (just like OSS).

I’m going to be doing more of this. And, selfishly, I hope you do the same so I can learn from you!