I’m watching the 2010 Google Summer of Code page pretty closely. Ever since I found out that it existed, last year, I’ve wanted to go for it, and my progress with Python has picked up again recently. My school schedule has currently changed in such a way that I have nearly three hours of quiet, uninterrupted time that it’s easy to spend in front of a terminal session. It will not surprise the coders in the audience to learn that this has done wonders for my productivity. I’m making progress on my current Pylons project and researching contributors to the Summer of Code, considering projects that I could contribute to.
One thing that I like a great deal about the program is that it emphasizes a couple of virtues that our current economic arrangement has nearly downsized out of existence: community contribution and mentorship. I love that it connects students to their professional community, that it gives them - us, I hope! - a place to start, someplace to begin a career doing what they love. I have heard the complaint far too many times - and made it far too many times - to be unsympathetic to “how do I get into this business, it seems like there’s no room at all for a beginner.” With the squeezing-out of apprenticeships and other transitions from student to professional, it’s definitely harder for a lot of us to get into careers doing what we love. I’m sad about that, and I think that it’s a major bug in the current way that we run our affairs.
But it’s fixable.
I particularly like the Google SOC fix because it also encourages community contribution, giving of oneself in order to make the community better. Sure, there’s a selfish angle - but I think that productive selfishness like this can get a whole lot done, and it’s pretty easy to encourage people to do it. Cautiously and prudently directed, selfishness can accomplish very positive things, especially when your definition of selfishness is as broad as mine.