The Noisy Signal by Bryan Behrenshausen

From Durgapur with love

Next week I’ll speak at the DGPLUG’s open source summer training on an invitation from buddy Kushal Das, the program’s intrepid coordinator for years. I’m both thrilled and humbled to be part of an event with such a rich and storied history, but realized this weekend I’ve never actually done anything quite like this.

DGPLUG conducts its entire summer training program online, live, principally via IRC (the protocol’s relatively low bandwidth requirements make it the preferred choice for attendees from remote locations in India and around the world). Attendees gather in #dgplug on freenode to hear speakers that appear solely as series of cascading text snippets, and employ a highly sophisticated, bot-driven Q&A mechanism for keeping interactions orderly and intelligible in a medium otherwise known for its, um, occasional pandemonium.

So this weekend I undertook a writing exercise rather new to me: Composing bite-sizes missives I can chain together in a copy/paste downpour—a neo-telegraphic script outlining Opensource.com, The Open Organization, and the open source way. (Basically, I just observed what the lovely and talented Trishna Guha did, and tried to copy that—not an easy act to follow, folks.)

I’ll paste the notes below.


Hi everybody! I’m Bryan Behrenshausen (aka semioticrobotic), and I’m so thankful to kushal for letting me speak with you today.

I just finished my PhD in Communication, and now I live in Raleigh, North Carolina in the U.S., where I work for Red Hat on Opensource.com.

I’ve been a been a writer and editor at Opensource.com for the past six years. You can read more about what I do right here: (www.semioticrobotic.net)

Opensource.com is a place where people tell stories about the ways open source values can spark positive change everywhere—not just in the domain of computing.

In other words, we believe “open” is something much broader than a methodology for developing the best software!

We actually like to talk more about the “open source way” (www.opensource.com/open-source-way) in order to stress that openness is a set of values and beliefs—something deeply cultural.

We believe that embracing certain values (like open exchange, community, sharing, and transparency) can help us change the world for the better.

So at Opensource.com we help people share their stories about the ways that living and working the open source way can make a difference in various areas of our lives, like government, education, business, and more.

We want it to be a place where people can share ideas about openness, share opinions on various ways to live and think openly, exchange tips for using open tools—and generally chat about anything related to the open source way.

At Opensource.com, I help support the community of our members who like talking about the ways that open values are changing organizational cultures: (www.opensource.com/open-organization)

Open source thinking is starting to alter the future of work, management, and leadership, and we’re trying to track exactly how that’s happening.

This particular community formed around a recent book by Jim Whitehurst, CEO of Red Hat, called The Open Organization: (www.theopenorganizationbook.com/)

The book is really about all the management and leadership lessons Jim has learned since he became CEO of Red Hat.

He discovered that the way open source communities organize to make software can actually function as a model for running a business.

So every day, I collaborate with people who are writing and thinking and openness, edit their work, help them brainstorm ideas, put them in touch with other people in our networks, and more.

I also help host our #OpenOrgChat Twitter chats, run live webcasts, publish companion materials related to The Open Organization—lots of things, really! (www.opensource.com/open-organization/resources)

I’m happy to take your questions about Opensource.com, The Open Organization, the open source way—or anything else you’d like to ask! I’m sure I won’t have all the answers, but I would love to explore ideas with you.

Who’s first?


Update (2016-08-29): The session was full of such wonderful questions, and the transcript is now available.

Nineteen years of cathedrals and bazaars

Today Opensource.com published my reflection on The Cathedral and the Bazaar, which I wrote in honor of the document’s 19th anniversary:

Whether Raymond’s insights hold true—whether they “accurately” describe the contemporary political, social, and economic conditions for open source anything—are inconsequential in light of the way The Cathedral and the Bazaar actually functions today. Quite simply, what the book says is not nearly as important as what it does.

Cory Doctorow on bananas

This week, I published an interview with Cory Doctorow as part of Opensource.com’s ongoing coverage of the 14th annual Southern California Linux Expo, where Cory delivered a keynote. It’s easily one of my favorite assignments from the past five years.

Cory is an extraordinarily busy person, but he graciously agreed to chat with me via telephone for 30 minutes. Realizing my constraints, I knew I needed to limit my questions to only the most pressing inquires. The most imperative matters. The indispensable material.

So I asked him about bananas.

And as I suspected, that bit of our conversation never found its way into the final piece. But I’m reproducing a transcript of it below for anyone as amused (albeit confused) as I was.


BB: One more question. And this probably won’t get included in the article or the interview. It’s just for my own personal curiosity, if you’ll indulge me.

CD: Sure.

BB: I’m a regular Boing Boing reader, and I frequently see you post pictures of bananas with the caption “Just look at it.”

CD: Yeah.

BB: What is that from? And why. I don’t get the joke, and I would love to understand the joke.

CD: Uh, that’s the joke.

BB: Okay. It’s not a reference to something? It’s not a line from something?

CD: No. One day, I looked at this thing that was like a lunchbox for your banana. It was like a plastic, form-fitting banana protector. [Ed—I think Cory’s referencing the “banana bunker.”] And first of all, it looked super porny. And second of all, it was just like “Oh my God. If you can think it, someone is injection molding it.” It’s like Rule 35. And so I showed it to my wife and I said, “Just look at this banana protector. Just look at it!” And then, yeah—

BB: —and thus it was born.

CD: And thus it was born. And of course, if that has a greater significance, it’s that anything that you look at in detail, you find fractal details for in the age of the Internet. So once I started looking for weird, interesting things about bananas, I was finding many, many interesting things about bananas. Because everything interesting about everything is on the Internet somewhere. And so you get a lot of it. My favorite one, I think, of all time, is that there’s an EU regulation specifying the characteristics of lawful banana curvature. And if there’s one thing you’re going to look at about bananas today, that’s the thing you should look at.

BB: I will be Googling that presently.

CD: Yeah.

BB: Well, in all honestly, I think you’re a pretty big part of that fractal now, because I did Google “banana, quote, just look at it, end quote,” and I think you and Boing Boing are most of the top hits.

CD: Yeah. I think we own that one.

BB: Yep, yep. So that’s your next monetization option if, you know, you ever want to leverage that.

CD: Yeah. Some day we’ll link farm that tag, and use it for SEO.


So that’s what happened that time I interviewed Cory Doctorow. Just look at it.