Linus says Linux isn't a single community

In a recent podcast interview Linus Torvalds discussed with Jim Zemlin of the Linux Foundation the notion of "community." (A full text transcript is also available.) Bottom line, there is no single community. Rather there are many different communities. And if you want to be a part of it, you have to engage. Good advice! Jim Zemlin: So, let’s talk a little bit about community, then, from this aspect of trust and

In a recent podcast interview Linus Torvalds discussed with Jim Zemlin of the Linux Foundation the notion of "community." (A full text transcript is also available.)

Bottom line, there is no single community. Rather there are many different communities. And if you want to be a part of it, you have to engage. Good advice!

Jim Zemlin: So, let’s talk a little bit about community, then, from this aspect of trust and I’d like to start by asking you a question about the term community itself. People throw the term community – you know, “Don’t do that. It will upset the ‘community’” or “The ‘community’ doesn’t accept this particular practice.’ What – how do you define community? I mean, what is the way you look at that?

Linus Torvalds: I actually – I try to avoid using the word community because it’s misleading in so many ways. It’s misleading in the sense there is no one community; it’s everybody tends to have their own issues that they care about and they may – may or may not have anything to do with another person who’s ostensibly in the same community.

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And the other thing is, community tends to also be – become a – not just to see it as one entity, but you also see people as being inside and outside and that used to be especially – I think most companies have slowly started to learn, but it used to be a huge issues where companies kind of were talking about “How do we interact with the community?”

And there the community ended up being some external entity when the real answer always ends up being you don’t interact with the community, you just act as a member of this non-existent community. You really – you don’t interact with it, you are part of it.”

For organizations looking to involve themselves in the open source development process, it is therefore important that they stop thinking about the community as something that needs to be dealt with, and start thinking about the development process as something they need to engage with.

Kudos to Matthew Anslett over at The451Group for his coverage and analysis of the interview.

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