A forge is just a tool, but is it the right tool?

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The law of the instrument states "if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail" (Maslow, 1966).

Software forges collect project artifacts and provide tools for project management. They do not build software, they do not write or test software, they do not attract users or contributors. It is the people that are important, not the forge. Without the people there would be no artefacts and thus no forges.

Forges, today, don't make it easy to discover the individuals and the communities behind the software. We typically find the project through some other means and then navigate to the forge. From there we start to examine the community using the hammer provided.

Are forges missing an opportunity here? Can we improve the way we discover the all important people and communities behind the projects?

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  • The law of the instrument states "if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail" (Maslow, 1966).Software forges collect project artifacts and provide tools for project management. They do not build software, they do not write ortest software, they do not attract users or contributors. Yet it is the people that are important. Without the people there would be noartefacts and thus no forges.Forges, today, don't make it easy to discover the individuals and the communities behind the software. We typically find the project throughsome other means and then navigate to the forge. From there we start to examine the community and the people behind the project. Are forgesmissing an opportunity here? Can we improve the way people discover the all important people and communities behind the projects?
  • Abraham Maslow was a psychologist who loved human beings. … In the 1960s, he wrote a book about the dangers of reductionism in psychology.Maslow knew that [people] eventually explained the nature of a thing at the smallest level possible.He knew the human mind was a complex thing, and that [people] often sought an understanding of complex things by documenting their atomic and chemical cogs and gears.he felt there was a need for [people] to spend time on the big picture—the weather patterns of human behavior that emerge from the butterfly wings flapping at the level of synapses and axons.
  • "I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.“ Maslow 1966http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/you-are-not-so-smart/201203/maslows-hammerThe first recorded statement of the concept was Abraham Kaplan's, in 1964: "I call it the law of the instrument, and it may be formulated as follows: Give a small boy a hammer, and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding.“ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_the_instrument
  • When people study open source they look at the cogs and gears.This misses the point.
  • Producing open source is about a wide range of tools and skills.It is about collaboration and sharing.
  • If we remove the people from a project the project will lie lifeless regardless of how good the tools and infrastructure are.
  • If we remove the lively projects from a forge the forge will die.
  • For a forge to be successful it needs to make its projects successful. It needs to make it possible to find the most relevant people within its projects. Simply providing a toolset is not enough.It is necessary to help the “worker bees” find the most productive patch of “pollen”
  • For a forge to be successful it needs to make its projects successful. It needs to make it possible to find the most relevant people within its projects. Simply providing a toolset is not enough.It is necessary to help the “worker bees” find the most productive patch of “pollen”
  • Bees make honey in the wild without intervention from human beings.Human beings can make them more productive by managing their environments and pushing them in the “appropriate direction”The same is not true of open source. Forges do not make softer, people do and people will work more effectively if they are nudged appropriately on occasion.
  • According to our Software Sustainability Maturity Model open source projects go through nine stages of maturity.Knowing what stage a project is at
  • It’s great having so many forges, but…How will they help find the right collaborators so we can build the right software?We need to help
  • A forge is just a tool, but is it the right tool?

    1. 1. A forge is just a tool, but is it the right tool? Ross Gardler @rgardlerPresentation is © OpenDirective 2012 – Some Rights ReservedLicensed under Creative Commons By AttributionAll images are public domain.
    2. 2. Dangers of Reductionism• Abraham Maslow: Psychologist – 1960’s published The Psychology of Science• Dangers of reductionism in psychology• People document atomic and chemical cogs and gears – Is that understanding?• Need to look at the big picture – Butterfly effect
    3. 3. Law of the Instrument• "I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” – Abraham Maslow 1966• "I call it the law of the instrument, and it may be formulated as follows: Give a small boy a hammer, and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding.“ – Abraham Kaplan 1964
    4. 4. Studying Open Source
    5. 5. Producing Open Source
    6. 6. A Project Without People
    7. 7. A Forge Without Projects
    8. 8. Collaborators, not Tools, Cogs and Gears
    9. 9. Collaborators, not Tools, Cogs and Gears
    10. 10. Nature or Nurture?
    11. 11. Community maturityMaturity Level DescriptionSeed An idea and a blank canvasGermination Early “spike” implementationsSeedling Implementation path is reasonably clearJuvenile Becoming viable as a project, no community yetFlowering Providing value to third parties, third parties are adoptingPollination Third parties are starting to contribute to rather than just takeFruiting Self organising community project but still dependant on a leadRipening Community led project, loss of leadership will not kill the projectDispersal Project is spawning an eco-system of its own
    12. 12. Forges are tools for building communities

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