I feel numb. All of the itches I had, that motivated me to contribute to Hugin, are frozen, anesthetized by a few remarks, who seems to represent the silent majority of users – at least of Windows users.
A few excerpts of his accusations:
- hugin distribution politics is far from the high quality of the software.
- Did you do anything better?
- you don’t make it easy for me (and for others) to keep up this sympathy [for Hugin]. And I fear others aren’t as patient as me. In other words and if you still didn’t get it: I think you distract people from using or even trying hugin.
- And BTW.: I won’t read any longish reply to that. If it is as short as “I’m sorry”, I will…
The only thing I am sorry about is wasting my time on such apparently useless things as:
- getting the project accepted to Google Summer of Code in 2007, resulting in a 75.000 US$ donation from Google over three years (thank you!) that enabled 15 student-summer projects on Hugin and related project; and more in-kind sponsoring from industry leaders Agnos and Nodal Ninja (thank you again) that helped motivating students and mentors beyond the Google Summer of Code. Running the team during two of the three participations and mentoring two students.
- Mentoring other contributors.
- Writing the Windows installer script for Hugin-0.7.0 when I was a user of that platform.
- Re-engineering the project to encourage participation, resulting in an amazing documentation effort by users of all platforms.
- Re-engineering the project’s repository, streamlining development and integration of new features, releasing Hugin-2009.2.0 in record time (and 2009.4.0 is around the corner, all of this without freezing development).
- A few bug fixes, and little features. There was more work in progress, but at the moment I don’t feel like touching it. It’s in a tarball in a remote corner of my disk for now.
- Organizing a Hugin art exhibition.
Actually, looking at the list I don’t feel sorry at all about what I did. I am sorry for those who ask if I did anything better. I wish I did not have such a short fuse, but overall I feel good. New, different itches are coming back to me. The numbing is temporary. I can do other things with my free time in the Free world. Life beyond Hugin.
The thing I like most about Free software is “scratch your own itches”: Contribution is purely voluntary, everybody does what they want/like to do; with little exceptions (as in: being hired or otherwise paid to do a job) there is no obligation.
To me personally, my first motivation is to learn. Life is an exciting journey and there is always something new to learn. The day I will rest my head on the pillow without having learned something new will be a sad day for me. Flat EEG.
Corollary: I like to move on to new things once the concept is proven. Not only the fuse is short. Others can pick it up from here. If my byproduct is helpful to them, good for them. If it isn’t, it’s OK for me too.
Next, I’m in it for the social fun. I’m an eccentric and I seem to find more people with comparable life experience, who are sometimes like-minded, among Open Source contributors. However social fun does not mean pleasing others. In a business relationship I will please my customers, my boss, my co-workers. In a social fun relationship, I’ll do what I enjoy doing, with people that accept me as I am. Not that I won’t occasionally scratch somebody’s else itch. In the end this is my free time and I dispose of it as I please.
Last but not least I’m in it to expand my toolbox, on two levels: as a photographer I’m pragmatic about Open Source and think that the tools complement nicely and sometimes substitute licensed proprietary tools. GIMP is unlikely to replace Photoshop in my workflow any time soon, but it has some unique features that Photoshop does not match. So I happily use both. As an apprentice coder, I’m all for Open Source. The method is better than anything else I have read or seen. But maybe that’s just because the superior proprietary method is such a well-kept secret? I doubt it.
Anyway, it is this time of the year again; and there are some important deadlines and changes on the horizon. Free time is going to be a very limited resource in the next weeks, and after that I’ll listen to my itches again.