I came of age as a programmer during the Open Source revolution. That
heady period when Open Source went from being a term a few geeks had
heard of to a force of nature that stormed through the industry and
left it forever changed.
I’m successful today in a large part due to projects and programming
language that were given to the world free of charge and free of
restrictions out of other programmers’ spare time and the goodness of
their hearts. Every day I learn about and incorporate new FLOSS tools
into my work. Every day I benefit from blog posts, services, e-books,
and hundreds of thousands of lines of code provided by amazingly
generous individuals who give their work away for free.
I’ve released a fair amount of OSS code myself, but I don’t measure up
to the real Open Source heroes, or even the bloggers who turn out
amazing, high-quality educational content on a weekly basis.
And now I’m selling books, and getting ready to sell screencasts. And
part of me feels bad about that; feels like a poor citizen of the
ecosystem I inhabit. I feel like I should be releasing this stuff for
free like so many of my peers do.
But I look around at my peers: the ones who are churning out
astounding amounts of free material, and the ones who aren’t. And
there’s a pretty clear delineation between them. With a few notable
exceptions, the ones going above and beyond to serve their communities
don’t have kids.
And I worry I will always be an ungrateful jerk in some people’s eyes
because I simply don’t have the option of allowing myself to work for