WP Briefing: Episode 32: An Open Source Reading List

In the thirty-second episode of the WordPress Briefing, WordPress Executive Director Josepha Haden Chomphosy shares her open source reading list for that post-WordCamp Europe downtime.

Have a question you’d like answered? You can submit them to wpbriefing@wordpress.org, either written or as a voice recording.




[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:00:00] 

Hello everyone. And welcome to the WordPress Briefing. The podcast where you can catch quick explanations of some of the ideas behind the WordPress open source project and the community around it. As well as get a small list of big things coming up in the next two weeks. I’m your host Josepha Haden Chomphosy. Here we go!

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:00:40] 

With the approach of various mid-year breaks and the prospect of wandering off for some safe, restorative travel, I’ve been updating my to-read and re-read list. As I was looking at the queued books for my Northern hemisphere summer, there were some common threads, mostly around leadership, but there’s also like a chunk that’s about cross-cultural group theory and economics, and then like some beach reads, but there’s one group in particular that you all might find interesting.

And that’s a group that’s sort of like a back-to-FOSS basics list. So I’ll share my top few with you in case you want to pack a copy for your next getaway. 

The first one on our list is called Producing Open Source Software by Karl Fogel. I think everyone who contributes to FOSS projects has received this as one of their first recommendations. Like, y’all are building open software? Excellent, you need to read Producing Open Source Software. Like, that is just a sentence that comes out of everyone’s mouths. So this was one of the first open source books that was recommended to me when I joined the WordPress community. It was freshly revised in 2020, and I haven’t given it a read since then, which is why it is on my reread list this year.

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:01:54]

However, it shaped the early days of the WordPress project’s leadership, and their lead developers, and some of WordPress’s basic philosophies. It’s all available online, under a creative commons, ShareAlike license. And so it’s worth the read. I’ll put a link to it in the show notes so it’s easy for everyone to find in the event that is your preferred beach read.

The second one on this list is a book from Nadia Eghbal. She wrote the excellent Roads and Bridges report that also is probably not light beach reading, but you know, this one is on my list to read this summer because Eghbal always delivers truths about the reality of maintaining popular software, popular, open source software, in a way that’s easy for me to access and process rather than getting paralyzed by the enormity of it all.

For what it’s worth your mileage may vary on that. I realized that, like, I live and breathe open source stuff. And so just because I am not paralyzed by the enormity of her explanations of things doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have a similar experience. And so I’m just going to claim that elephant in the room for all of us.

However, if you only read one book on this list this year, I think that this should be the one that you read.

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:03:14]

The third one is called Code: Collaborative Ownership and the Digital Economy. It was edited by Rishab Aiyer Ghosh. I am certain that I butchered that name. And so I apologize on my own behalf to everyone that knows whether or not I said it correctly.

This book focuses on intellectual property rights and the original purpose of having anything like copyright in the world. So, right up my alley! The writers who contributed to this work promise exploration of the plight of creativity in the commons, the role of sharing in creative advancement, and a concept of what it would look like if intellectual property were to mean the second closing of an ecosystem versus a triumph of the commons.

I mean, obviously, this one is very light reading. You can take this topic to high tea and everyone will not know what you’re talking about. However, this one looks like a really interesting book to me and I am just super ready to read it. 

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:04:19]

The second to last one on the list is a book called Humble Inquiry.

This is a new-to-me book that seems right in line with one of my favorite books to recommend to leaders in the open source space. From reviews of it, I have gathered that it takes a hard look at the value of listening and asking for clarification in a world that puts a high value on an unsolicited hot take.

It puts the importance of high trust relationship building, which is at the heart of any cross-culturally aware organization. And for folks who’ve been working with me for a while, you know, that relationship building is an important part of my leadership expectations for myself. So it puts relationship building at the front and center with a promise of practical applications for everyday life.

And if you ever have tried to tackle a complicated topic like this, you know that practical applications are really hard to come by and it’s often hard to understand it if you don’t have those practical applications. And so that is why this one is on my read and reread list this year. 

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:05:24]

And then finally the WordPress Milestones book.

So this sounds like a shameless plug for WordPress. And on the one hand, this whole podcast is about WordPress. And so, yes! But on the other hand, I actually am reading this for two specific reasons. I’m rereading this actually. I read it when I first joined Automattic. And so the first of the two reasons that I’m rereading it this year is that volume two of this is, like the second decade of WordPress currently, being researched and written in preparation for WordPress’s 20th birthday next year. 

So I am rereading this to kind of get that all back in my mind as that work is getting done. And the second reason is that I honestly like to remind myself of how far we’ve come sometimes. I talk about our work frequently. And I talk about what we’re working on right now, all the time.

I talk about what we’re looking at three years from now, five years from now. The biggest concerns of today, tomorrow, and the future-future. And it’s very easy to forget how much success WordPress has had and how much growth the contributors that support us have had over the course of our long and storied history.

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:06:40]

And so I like to go back to that just to kind of give myself some grounding in our progress, as well as get some concept for how we can move forward together. So that one is also available online. Also under a creative commons ShareAlike license and it is also worth the read. I will share a link to that with the other one in the show notes as well.

That brings us now to our small list of big things. Let’s see what we got in the old lineup today. 

So, firstly WordCamp Europe is happening this week and it’s possible to watch the live stream from the comfort of your own home. There are some smart and talented speakers at the event. So I encourage you to catch a few if you have the time. I’ll include a link to the live stream information in the show notes below, and then also you can always keep an eye out on Twitter. 

There will be a lot of discussions, a lot of conversation there. And so you can engage with folks that are there at the time and catch up on those conversations, catch up on those presentations in your own time, as it fits into your day.

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:07:50]

The second thing is that WordPress’s community team is preparing the annual meetup survey right now. So if you participate in meetup events, keep an eye out for that because your feedback helps us to make plans to improve that program so that it works better for you. And it helps you to learn WordPress better and feel more confident with what you are taking out into the world that way.

But, if you are wanting to use this as a chance to contribute, we actually will need folks who are able to translate the surveys as well. So I’ll leave a link to some information about that in the show notes. If all of that stuff about contribution didn’t make any sense, then just like keep an eye out from your meetup organizer and they will make sure that you have that survey so that you can have your voice heard. 

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:08:33]

And then item three is less of an item. I mean, it’s an item cause it’s in this list, but it’s less of, like, a thing to know and more of a general thing to be aware of. It’s a general awareness item. There’s a lot going on in WordPress right now. I can see how hard it is to keep track of some of these things these days.

And I know as someone who’s looking at this all day every day that, yeah, it’s a lot. And it’s hard to get your bearings. So if you have a team that you contribute to already, don’t forget to reach out to each other, just to check-in. Sometimes we don’t think to ask for help. Sometimes we don’t think to offer help and you know, if no one needs any help from you at that moment, a little hello also can brighten someone’s day.

And that, my friends, is your smallest of big things. Thank you for tuning in today for the WordPress Briefing. I’m your host, Josepha Haden Chomphosy. And I’ll see you again in a couple of weeks.

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