Open Source is not a Switch

If you ever hear anyone say a platform is ‘open again‘ then you would do well to ask them “what the hell are you talking about?”

Open Source isn’t a switch to be turned on and off. If it was treated like a switch, you would be very wise to consider when it might be again flicked to the ‘off’ position. I think this is a topic I will bring up at the Open Source Leadership Summit to which I was invited and will be attending this week. Specifically, I want to get people’s opinions on how to communicate effectively to those that make these mistakes, including that Open Source is not a switch to be turned on and off. Personally, I find treating Open Source as a switch a stupid and infuriating rookie mistake but I need to find a way to discuss it more constructively to help people who make these errors gain a clearer understanding of what Open Source means.

Open Source Leadership Summit

Off to the Linux Foundation Open Source Leadership Summit next week. I’ll take copies of the Cabbage Tree Method book and some stickers and see how it goes.

If you have ideas about how to promote the method, please let me know. Also if you would like free copies of the book and/or stickers, then give me a yell!

Where I is

So, I’m back in San Francisco. This is a quick update about where I am with my exploration to divest myself of proprietary (particularly web) networks. This has been motivated by many things, mainly privacy, control of my own webspace, and the desire to live in an ethical web. It is also in part an attempt to keep my head free of internet junk.

I’ve done the following:

  1. made this site my ‘home’ on the web. It is run by 100% free software on servers that I rent and which run the Ubuntu open source operating system.
  2. handed off all social media accounts that I managed for other orgs (Coko and Book Sprints) to other people.
  3. removed my Linkedin profile and put a place holder saying ‘Adam doesn’t live here anymore’.
  4. registered some social media handles (which remain dormant) and domains as a defensive strategy against trolls.
  5. replaced all my weak passwords with strong passwords.
  6. installed a password protected password manager.
  7. installed and run a VPN with a provider that I trust.
  8. purchased a phone with no wifi or location services. It allows only calls and SMS. I keep limited contact information on it.
  9. uninstalled as many apps on my old smart phone (now SIM-less) so I can use it as a podcast player and backup (just in case).
  10. installed Chromium (free spyless browser).
  11. installed TOR Browser as a secondary browser.
  12. use Duckduckgo (trackerless) search engine.
  13. started putting a lot more energy into this site, new design coming soon!

I already had an encrypted partition on my drive and use GPG so the above is the new stuff only.

That’s it for now. It is a good start. I’ll see how I go. All things so far are pretty good but I’ve only had the ‘dumb’ phone for a few days… let’s see how that works out.


Feature Phone

With all the stuff going on right now, it seems it’s time to think about privacy and security again. I just purchased a call-and-SMS only phone and have retired my smart phone. This way I have no creepy apps stealing stuff or phoning home and recording my every move and thought. I’m also going to keep a limited number of contacts stored on the phone.

Jim Jarmusch, Punk and Mediawiki

I listened to an episode of NPR Fresh Air today which featured an interview with director Jim Jarmusch. During the interview, he commented on what punk meant to him. Oddly his thoughts reflected what I was trying to get across in an earlier post ( about Mediawiki and similar softwares that have a ‘DIY aesthetic’. His quote:

[punk] embraced amateurism…it was about saying something because you meant it, expressing something that you felt, and that was primary… in the Latin origins of the word, amateur is the word love, the love of a form, whereas professional implies something you do for money or work…

The point being, if I complete the circle, that an amateur ‘aesthetic,’ (which is what I think Mediawiki has), has been critical for its success and the success of Wikipedia. It is an aesthetic that has communicated to those that wished to do something for love and are, perhaps, motivated to prove that an ‘amateur’ body of knowledge could be every bit as good as one ‘created by professionals’.

Wikipedia and the design of Mediawiki are classic punk. I find it interesting to consider this since if Mediawiki had looked ‘more professional’ (think Confluence) it would not have been as successful, and this may also be true for its flagship project – Wikipedia.

The Cabbage Tree Method – baking cultural change into product design

Karien Bezuidenhout, from the Shuttleworth Foundation, offered this insight into the Cabbage Tree Method:

The Cabbage Tree Method bakes cultural change into the product design process.

Very wise words and a delicious insight succinctly put.

The book is now available as a book in a browser from

It is a free book – gratis and libre.