What Open Source Culture Can Teach the Newsroom
Gabriella Coleman discusses how functioning Open Source projects work and the culture behind them. In this video, she outlines how Debian, a free and Open Source operating system, brings together and leverages community contributions.
While the comparison between Open Source software development and new forms of crowdsourced journalism is a bit apples and robots, with enough imagination we might see how a few of the key components could be applied to a news organization:
- Transparency: How does the organization or project operate? Who or what is behind it? What can I as an outside contributor get my hands on when I want to start to hack?
- Ethical, Legal and Philosophical Values: This isn’t just knowing what an organization stands for, it’s a contributor being able to argue for, integrate and advocate those values.
- Technical Baselines: No, not just anyone can contribute, they must have proven skills and expertise in a given field. If I stepped into Gabriella’s Debian example, I’d politely be asked to leave. I don’t have those skills.
- Mentorship: This can come from core team members, or those who have been involved in a project long enough that they are able to guide those who are new, or less skilled, in each of the above.
- Governance Structure: How are decisions made and who has final say so that the project evolves/moves forward? Is it a person, a committee, the entire community, or some other structure?
- Committed Community: A successful project needs people coming back again and again, ready to continue contributing their time and their skills.
- Festive Celebration and Cultural Enchantment: There should always be a party, somewhere. This is important.
On the FJP Tumblr, Michael Cervieri dives deeper into the relationship between Open Source techniques and how they might be applied to the newsroom.