Open Advice Book Now Available

Open Advice coverWhat we wish we had known when we started working on free open source software (FOSS) – that is the premise of this essay collection, Open Advice. What’s especially interesting to me after having read all 42 essays is there isn’t really a pattern like you’d see when looking at “what I would tell my younger self” such as “believe in yourself” or “don’t worry about what others think.” Those themes do come through, but the heart of the collection centers on open source projects, software, users, coders, and the myriad roles that make an open source project great. It’s a collection of great stories and great experiences.

One theme that stuck out to me was “I wish I had been less arrogant.” So many people, women especially, can be put off by the attitudes displayed by an open source online chat room or mailing list. I know I’m happy to see more women’s names on the OpenStack mailing list, asking and answering questions. I’m also happy to note that the OpenStack community is polite, professional, and welcoming to all.

An essay that fascinated me was “27 Things I’m Happy I Didn’t Know” by Alexandra Leisse. Ignorance is bliss in many arenas, open source is no exception. Sometimes learning from mistakes is the best lesson.

I also loved the “Never on a Friday” section of Sally Khudairi‘s essay that leads with “Everyone is a marketer.” She launched a new homepage for W3C on a Friday then boarded a plane for Paris. She landed to a flood of messages about a particular tag choice. Fabulous story.

Dave Neary‘s essay about conference planning, “Getting People Together,” has a detailed section about budgets and funding plus content and parties. Valuable and practical, this essay should be required reading for both conference planners and attendees.

What did I write about? Documentation and My Former Self is the title, and in it I realize how many contradictions I’ve discovered on my journey. Often, adding more and more observations will bring a flip turn to my stance on a documentation strategy. Fascinating.

The Open Advice book in PDF format is downloadable for all and I’d encourage you to read it, enjoy it, learn from it, and share it. Then, join in an open source community with those lessons already learned.


  • Mark Giffin
    February 12, 2012 - 11:46 am | Permalink

    Thanks for this, it looks interesting. I downloaded the PDF and it is set up in a two-page-wide format that is hard to read. You can’t just page down, you have to scroll around. Can this be changed to a single page format?

    I found the Kindle version and that works fine.

  • February 12, 2012 - 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Hi Mark – Thanks for downloading the PDF. For most PDF readers, you can go to View > Page Display and then choose Single Page or Single Page Continuous. Let me know the platform and I can troubleshoot more for you.

  • Mark Giffin
    February 12, 2012 - 7:27 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear, how dense I am. That fixed it. 15+ years of dealing with PDFs, and I never knew that. Can you also help me dial in to the information superhighway?

    Thanks again for this book. It’s a world I have needed to deal with more and more lately, and it looks like a good collection of information.

  • February 20, 2012 - 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Hallo Anne

    What a great book! Thanks so much for letting us know about it. I love the variety of contributions. Congratulations on your own chapter – I enjoyed it very much.

    I’ve posted a notice about the book on our intranet, and also on Technical Writing World:

    It will be interesting to see what people have to say about it. It’s a great contribution to the open source community.

    Cheers, Sarah

  • Leave a Reply