Ushering in new era of open source evangelism

President Obama and Michelle ObamaWay back in 1999, when dinosaurs were roaming the planet, a friend of mine and I started off on a path that I’ve been lucky enough to keep walking for 14 years.  As students of public policy, we were eager to use technology to provide individuals and organizations with empowering tools to advance the cause of building a more open and just society.  From the beginning, we knew that open source software would be the necessary DNA running through our work’s blood.

Looking back at those early days, I’m incredibly humbled by the impact open source has had on my life and in our communities.  Now, older and slightly wiser, I’m excited to continue down that same path.  Our company’s flagship offerings (Non-Profit Soapbox and Soapbox Engage) heavily leverage open source software, giving us the headspace and time to focus on shaping software to best serve our community.

At the same time, I continue to find fulfillment in life by using my experience as a backdrop for evangelism of the open source communities that help us deliver services to those who need it most.  While this has recently lead to many hours on planes and trains far away from loved ones, I feel nearly compelled (in a good sense) to work alongside the incredible people building the hammers and nails the world needs to craft more effective and equitable software.

After taking a year off from any formal duties in the Joomla open source community, I’m looking forward to contributing again in 2013 with an eye to what I feel I do best:  evangelism.  I’ve got some keynote presentations cooking right now, and look forward to finding opportunities to share them with anyone willing to listen.

If you’re interested in having me speak at your event, just drop me a line.

At the same time, I’m planning another evangelism route.  It’s no secret that we at PICnet have become big fans of the Salesforce platform and CRM.  We’ve been lucky to meet so many great Salesforce technologists in our  circles, all with similar passions to leverage technology to shape a better world.  I’ve also been impressed by the recent direction of the Salesforce Foundation and its support of the open source Nonprofit Starter Pack, a set of pre-packaged modifications of Salesforce to make it more friendly for non-profit organizations.

In 2013, I plan to put personal time and energy into evangelism and support of the Nonprofit Starter Pack (NPSP).  While there are many fabulous applications that run alongside the Salesforce platform for nonprofits, the open source nature of the NPSP attracts me to it like a moth to white light.  I’m looking forward to taking best practices and lessons learned during my years of Joomla evangelism to aid, however possible, in spreading the word about the benefits the NPSP and giving feedback to the growing community of developers looking to make it even better.

What’s different about this new era of open source evangelism for me is that it’s based on code which only works within a proprietary software “cloud” (Salesforce).  After spending 5 years on the board of directors and as president for an organization called Open Source Matters, working within a proprietary garden seemed a bit odd at first.  But soon, I realized something that I’ve said over and over again in presentations made even clearer sense to me.

“The relationships we build are more important than the tools.”

If there’s an opportunity for me to assist in the effort of organizing smart, fun-loving, and passionate individuals around a software project that is built in a transparent and community-supported manner, count me in.  After the recent Washington DC NPSP Developer Code Sprint at Ashoka, I feel confident that the leadership within the Salesforce Foundation is committed to making the NPSP a continued open source success by supporting the community of users, developers, and others.  Their actions say this to me:  if there are lessons that can be shared  to help produce a more peaceful and free society, let’s share them and do good.

Now, let’s get to work cultivating open source success.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, January 5th, 2013 at 4:47 pm and is filed under development, GPL, Joomla, open source, You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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