Understanding the Evolution of FOSS Community

Family Matters


Once upon a time, nearly 40 years ago, the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) movement began. As it gained momentum across the late-twentieth and twenty-first centuries, there were inevitable conflicts of ideology and practice. This-License or That-License, a business model that works for some projects but not others, and how an individual Open Source maintainer still manages their own sustainability in society.

Despite the fractures that we have felt in our growing family, we have been consistently pulled together by a force of gravity driven by our shared values. As we have been driven further apart than ever before by the pressures of this global pandemic, many of us are left questioning about who we are and what we will become. Meanwhile, a new generation of people are entering and have entered the world of FOSS. With the arrival of these new members of our FOSS community comes new conflicts and contradictions—often intimate and familial in nature—in our collective communities.

In this session, speakers Justin W. Flory and Mike Nolan frame the development of FOSS culture and community as living in an intergenerational family and all that encompasses: the great, the bad, the lovely, and the ugly. They offer their own explorations into what makes the people of the Free and Open Source movement who they are. The exploration looks closely at aspects like mentorship, physical space, common values, and time for reflective communication to build a healthy family on the foundation of love, and how to think about the new generations discovering Free and Open Source for the first time.