Giving is its own reward

I recently read an article about the Hidden Benefit of Giving Back to Open Source Software. The main focus of the article is about the economic benefit. The author makes the point early on that, “The reason for that benefit lies in the experience and knowledge that certain employees gain through contributing, says Nagle. His study suggests that contributing to crowdsourced digital or even physical “public goods” that benefit other firms or industries can enable companies to gain valuable insights and compete more effectively.”  

I’m not going to dispute that assertion at all.  I’ve been using and experimenting with open source software for more than twenty years. A number of years ago one of my favorite colleagues in education used to ask me, “Why use open source?” My answer usually revolved around total cost of ownership, freedom to distribute as many copies of the software to as many teachers and students as I wanted to. But, at that time I was merely a person who used open source software and while the cost/benefit and total cost of ownership of open source software immensely outweighs the proprietary solution the most compelling reason for using and supporting open source software far outweighs the economic advantage.

I have to come to believe through my involvement with in the past four years that there are many more good reasons to be involved with open source software. Recently I read “On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity, and Getting Old” by Parker Palmer. One of the author’s assertions was that, “it’s important to get clear about the difference between the jobs by which we make a living and the callings, or vocations, by which make meaning.”  That sentence just kind of jumped off the page at me as I thought about my involvement with the community of writers whom I am privileged to be associated with.

Five years ago I retired from a job where I made more than a living. Being a teacher is a calling. I’ve been involved in education as long as I can remember. I used to teach my brother when we were both in single digits. Later while serving in the United States Navy I was called upon to be the ‘education petty officer’ of our recruit training company.” Eventually I spent twenty-six years in public education so when that came to end I was literally depressed. I took on other roles in retirement volunteering in a soup kitchen and the public library. Four years ago while sitting in a library getting ready to help out in the soup kitchen I got a direct message on Twitter from Jason Hibbets inviting me to All Things Open. He said, if I could make it to Raleigh, would pay my way into the conference. I jumped at the chance. While I was at the conference another friend, Phil Shapiro suggested that I ought to join the community as a writer and moderator. To assuage my initial reluctance Phil offered to help me write some articles. He continues to supply me with many of the writing leads and topics that I explore.

I have found new meaning as a result of my involvement with the community. Being involved with a diverse community of writers who have helped me to grow professionally and kept me engaged and learning. After having been an open source user and supporter for many years I have been an active contributor to an open source community. My involvement with the community has definitely become both an avocation and a driving force in my life. Because this  involvement I have learned about a variety of topics including data science, computer languages R and Python. I’ve actually returned to the classroom teaching students how to program and use open source to benefit their local communities.

I have learned that contributing to open source means involvement in a community. The attraction of open source lies in the paradox that it brings to the table. Involvement in open source projects brings far more to the table than one could ever imagine in a world that focuses on zero sum. There is a universal bond involved in sharing that connects all of humanity. It is in giving that we receive.

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Bob Woodward knocks it out of the park

Fear: Trump in the White HouseFear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A very well written book. This is the 4th book I’ve read about the Trump administration. I think Bob Woodward has done a great service in writing the book. It’s well researched and I recommend it to anyone who wants to get a look at the dysfunction at the top.

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A journey toward healing

Beyond PTSD: A Spiritual Journey into Wholeness and LoveBeyond PTSD: A Spiritual Journey into Wholeness and Love by Gregory J. Masiello
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a wonderfully insightful book which I read in less than a day. I simply could not put it down. There are many great insights about healing and wholeness for anyone who has experienced PTSD or trauma in their lives. This author uses personal experiences and everyday language to deliver keen insights and hope for recovery from traumatic stress and depression. Having just spent five days in Assisi with Greg and the staff of Franciscan Pilgrimages made the book all the more meaningful.

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If you’re interested in a positive view of the developments today in big data, artificial intelligence and robotics

WTF?: What's the Future and Why It's Up to UsWTF?: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us by Tim O’Reilly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an interesting read. This is the first book I’ve read by Tim O’Reilly though I have benefited from some of the texts his company sells. If you’re interested in a positive view of the developments today in big data, artificial intelligence and robotics and how they could shape our future then this is a must read for you.

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Are you going to start a maker space?

Your Starter Guide to Makerspaces (The Nerdy Teacher Presents) (Volume 1)Your Starter Guide to Makerspaces (The Nerdy Teacher Presents) by Nicholas Provenzano
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s a good discussion about what makes a makerspace. I really loved the author’s personal touch in sharing his own experiences more than the theory of maker spaces. He had lots of keen insights and it was a easy read. I recommend this book to anyone thinking seriously about implementing maker spaces in their school or library.

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An invitation to dialogue with our LGBTQ sisters and brothers

Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and SensitivityBuilding a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity by James Martin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A very insightful and wonderfully written book that I highly recommend anyone read. Though it is written specifically to the LGBT community it can easily be applied to any marginalized group.

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Brothers and Sisters of Penance

I spent the last several days here at St. Francis University in Loretto, PA with nearly forty Secular Franciscan sisters and brothers. We learned a great deal about multiculturalism and diversity. It was a great conference in a wonderful setting. What does it mean to do penance in today’s world? What are worthy fruits of penance? Is penance merely a word or a pious act? I believe that penance is a call to conversion. It’s not turning a blind eye to injustice. Worthy fruits of penance are helping immigrant families, helping the poor and marginalized, reaching out to the LGBTQ community and making them welcome. Being Franciscan in the twenty-first century means caring for all creation both animate and inanimate.  It’s making sure that all are welcome in this place.  It’s more than saying peace and wishing for peace, it’s about living peace.

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