Everything I Needed to Know About Open Source, I Learned from Punk Rock

Everything I Needed to Know About Open Source, I Learned from Punk Rock

Presented at Ruby on Ales 2013 in Bend, OR.

It was the summer of 1993. I skipped out on the second game in a baseball double header to go to Lollapalooza with my cool older cousin. It was the first concert of my choosing (previously Hall & Oates, then The Grateful Dead). That day changed the course of my life.

I saw Rage Against the Machine which led to Inside Out which led to Revelation Records which led to Youth of Today, Bold and Gorilla Biscuits. Through those bands I'd learn about straightedge and veganism. I would discover a whole world of diy subcultures.

We made our own zines before there were blogs as a way to communicate across great time and distance. We formed our own bands to perform the soundtrack to our lives and ideals. We organized venues for our bands and friends' bands to play. We booked tours across timezones and oceans to see the world and meet new people.

We built our own networks and economies, in both gifts and exchanges. We created an aesthetic that was ours, a tribal identity. We created systems to record our story. We defined our lives on our terms.

Demo tapes were our Minimum Viable Product. Shows and tours were our meetups. Protests and convergences were our conferences. Cover songs were our permissive licenses. DIY was our flat organization. We didn't ask permission or forgiveness. We built, scammed or stole everything we could.

Punk rock is made of people. Open source is people. That we make music or software is just an artifact of the ideals we hold dear. All of these things I did when I was a kid in basements and tour vans, I'm doing again now on the internet and in office buildings.

What I didn't realize then, was that all of that was perfect training for the world of open source software.

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Shane Becker

March 08, 2013
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