Next up…

5:55 pm freesoftware, work

Following on from my previous post, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what comes next professionally for me.

For the first time since I arrived in France, I have no full-time job. But this time, I know the lay of the land, I have 5 years experience extra, in varying roles (including the GNOME Foundation). I have never felt so free to explore projects that I want to work on, and think of different ways to make a living.

One thing is for sure… I don’t see myself going back to being an employee straight away. I would need to get a hell of an offer to consider it. Now that I have the freedom to work on the projects I feel are worth it, I will not be giving it up lightly.

First things first, the low-hanging fruit. Through Wengo, I have been in discussions with lots of people in VoIP, and I will continue to do work related to OpenWengo – in particular, I will be working with companies who can deliver customisation services and support on the WengoPhone getting them clients. Through the ground-work which I have been doing over the past year, I believe that there is a demand there which will not be drying up any time soon.

Following on from my cat-herding experience on the GIMP, and with OpenWengo, I will also be available for product management and project management on projects I believe in.

Finally, I will be Yet Another Free Software Community Consultant – following in the trail blazed by some of the stars of our community. Through long involvement in the free software world, and intimate knowledge of the dynamics of free software non-profits, I believe I can help companies interested in free software get the best for their investment dollars. You want to know how to have salaried employees work well with volunteers? You are sponsoring a project and wondering why you haven’t seen a snowball effect of patches yet? You’re wondering what governance model is appropriate for your pet project? You have a project you’d like to financially support, but you’re not sure how to do so effectively? I can help.

Beyond that, one thing I am sure of: the thing which drew me to free software is the “worth” of it. What we do is important. Not just a way to spend time, like a community drama society, or something where your work benefits only yourself, like running a marathon. What we do changes the world. At a first level, we change people’s expectations of software. We wipe out the assumptions people have about software production and distribution. We change the way programs get built.

But at another level, we allow people access to technology which they’ve never had before. We provide millions of lines of real-world code, helping to create a generation of software engineers better prepared for the world than ever before, and idealists to boot. We are helping bridge the digital divide.

After spending so much time on something so important, I will not be going back to work on any project where the only thing I get out of it is my paycheque, as important as that is. I have lots of thoughts rolling around in my head, but that sweet-spot where my skills, passions and desires meld into a clear idea has been evading me. I really don’t know what I’m going to do, but I’m loooking forward to thinking about it.

4 Responses

  1. jdub Says:

    Rock on, good luck! It’s a bucket of fun braving the high wire in the Open Source industry, on your own or with an awesome partner. ;-)

  2. Sandy Says:

    Best of luck to you!

  3. Lefty Says:

    Wow. I don’t know whether congratulations or commiserations are more in order, so let me extend some of both. I’d wish you good luck if I didn’t doubt that you needed it: you’re a very sharp guy, and I’m sure you’ll do fine.

    That said, if there’s anything I can do that would be helpful to your new career, please don’t hesitate for an instant to let me know.

    Are you planning on being at FOSDEM next month?

  4. Safe as Milk » Blog Archive » OpenWengo not in limbo Says:

    [...] between Wengo and MBDSys. I alluded to this, as Marco indicated in his blog entry, in my previous entries on the subject, as well as in email to the mailing [...]