Thursday, February 18, 2010

Importance of Corporate Open Source Activity

A lot has been made recently about Twitter having a page on its site that lists the open source projects it has released or contributes open source code to. A list of those projects can be found here.

One of the more interesting blog posts on this came from Dana Blankenhorn at ZDNet. It can be found here. In it he contemplates whether or not, by Twitter having a page on its open source contributions, it assists in recruiting top-notch engineers to the organization. It is a very interesting question, and one I am sure a lot of corporations think about.

Ultimately, I think it is a very wise move on Twitter's behalf to announce these contributions in plain view. Engineers that are involved with open source software tend to believe heavily in the principles behind the movement. They enjoy the fact that they can take existing code and continuously improve on it, and provide those changes back to the bevy of open source engineers that will continually do the same. In the end, it provides the best chance of building as solid a piece of software as possible. That is the idea at least in layman's terms. And, it seems to be working pretty well to this point.

Therefore, for a corporation to think and behave much like its engineers do is a benefit come recruiting time. You tend to see it time and time again. Much of the top open source talent that exists is employed by an organization that tends to view open source software favorably. Thus, they allow these engineers to continue to release code to projects in which they are active. In the end, it is a win-win for both parties. Engineers are happy that they work for an organization that shares their beliefs; and at the same time, the corporations are benefiting from the software that they are utilizing for their operations being continuously improved upon by the open source community.

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