In the opening OSCON keynote this morning, the founder of Docker, Solomon Hykes, gave us a fantastic birds-eye view of lessons learned from the “firehose” while building a successful open source project. He calls this process: Incremental Revolution.
Hykes says, “The world needs the tools for mass innovation, tools that encapsulate the harder parts of technology in order to unlock creativity.” Further, the growing Internet of Things (IoT), a programmable Internet, will be the ultimate tool of mass innovation, programming lots of things simultaneously or in parallel, rather than one at a time.
Docker staff participates in 50+ projects and deals with over 1200 patches a month.
Hykes’s biggest lessons:
1. No is temporary, yes is forever. Resist the urge to accept every patch for new features. You can always change your mind later and add it, but removing features is really hard—the users have pitchforks, so stay calm and reasonable.
2. Open source levels the playing field for challengers. A small team, or even an individual, can “punch way out of their weight class” with open source, as it gives access to an enormous pool of expertise, so that the innovator can focus on the point of the spear, and compete with much larger organizations. It’s not a magic bullet—the team must still figure out what problem to solve! But open source frees even the smallest competitors to do just that.
The excitement of the growth of the Internet and the Internet of Things gives us as technology practitioners the opportunity to collaborate in new and great ways; well-managed open source projects can quickly grow, as Docker has, to take on a big position in the space—and when that happens, we all win.