Hold on loosely

As many of you know at this point, I have resigned from Red Hat. My last day will be Friday, May 14th. On Monday, June 7th, I will be the Chief Technology Officer for the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education — or ISKME for short. (Attempts to convince our board to change “Institute” to “Association”, because askme.org would be at least 20% awesomer, have been heretefore unsuccessful.)

It was a difficult decision — the most difficult decision of my working life, in fact. But the time to make the fight for open source in education is right now, and I knew that if I didn’t join that fight, right now, with every ounce of my energy, I’d regret it.

I’ll still be around Fedora, don’t worry about that; you can’t get rid of me that easily.

I’m not really inclined to speechify much, but there’s one thing I want to say in my last “official” post in the Fedora world:

Please remember our dissidents, and treat them well.

Does anyone remember these days? I do. Like they were yesterday. I remember stumbling into community-land and being struck by how many smart people there were outside the Red Hat fencelines, and how much potential they had to be real partners in the new adventure we called Fedora — and what poor a job we were doing listening to them. So that basically became my full-time job, for a long time: listening. And doing, when it was clear that things needed to be done, but mostly leaving the doing to others. Much of Fedora as we know it today was built by people who were, at one time, Fedora’s dissidents.

Whatever leadership roles I took over the years, I always took with the goal of handing them to other people. Yes, because I’m lazy — but also because it’s always been my strong conviction that Fedora is a great place to build open source leaders. And the way to build leaders is to give them opportunities, and encouragement, to lead.

I’ve always urged folks in the Fedora community to pursue the ideas that they were passionate about, even if they weren’t directly aligned with Fedora’s main goals at the time — and I’ve always tried to make folks feel as though those activities deserved the Fedora name just as much as anything else in the Fedora world did.

Of course, we need to make sure that Fedora is moving forward, and that people understand the critical path. But we need to be very mindful of how we go about it. If we lose our dissenting voices, if we lose their ideas and their work, we run the risk of becoming a monoculture — and to me, that’s not the Fedora way.

I find myself quoting a lot of song lyrics these days. In this case, it’s .38 Special that comes to mind:

* * *

You see it all around you
Good lovin' gone bad
And usually it's too late when you realize what you had
And my mind goes back to a girl I left some years ago,
Who told me,

Just Hold On Loosely, but don't let go
If you cling too tightly,
you're gonna lose control...
Your baby needs someone to believe in
And a whole lot of space to breathe in.

* * *

Red Hat, so long as you continue to be someone to believe in, you will do just fine.

I’m immensely proud of everything we’ve achieved together, and immensely proud to wear the fedora for life.

See you on the Planet.

Hold on loosely

6 thoughts on “Hold on loosely

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