a16z Podcast

a16z Podcast: The Changing Culture of Open Source

Nadia Eghbal, Mikeal Rogers, and Sonal Chokshi

Posted April 8, 2017

The culture of open source has changed across generations, from previous ones that had to fight for the brave new way — to the current “GitHub generation” that not only accepts open source, but expects it as the default. Which makes sense given that open source powers so much of the software world today… and by the way, that’s not just tech companies but hospitals and banks; it touches everyone.

Open source culture has also moved away from cults of personality and top-down models to drive the vision for open source projects, to decentralized individual contributor identities and more micro-sized projects within projects. So what does that mean for the governance of open source, whether it’s by institution or foundation, or a “healthy” or “popular” project? Should we invert, always invert to make sure open source code “lands” and is committed by default — as opposed to going through a cabal of gatekeepers first?

This episode of the a16z Podcast — featuring Nadia Eghbal (who formerly researched the sustainability of open source projects for Ford Foundation, and is now in community programs at GitHub) and Mikeal Rogers (longtime open source contributor, and currently community manager at Node.js Foundation) in conversation with Sonal Chokshi — covers all this and more. Is open source simply too loaded a term? Is there no sense of ownership? How best to manage a project or resolve conflicts? After all, at the end of the day, it’s about people, not just code…