Open Source for Social Change: Celebrating the SocialCoding4Good Community

By Benetech, posted on

July just might be our favorite month—it’s certainly a time when we pause to look back at where we’ve been. Three short years ago, our then-VP Engineering, Gerardo Capiel, stood at the Benetech table at OSCON, O’Reilly’s annual open source conference, asking everyone he met if they’d be interested in volunteering their tech skills for social good. Encouraged by the positive response, Gerardo started laying the groundwork for SocialCoding4Good, sharing the idea with organizations like Amara, FrontlineSMS, Mozilla, and Wikimedia Foundation.

Little did he know what he was starting…

Fast forward two years to July 2013: we were launching our new website, corporate partner program, and exciting new partnerships with organizations including Sahana Software Foundation, Medic Mobile, and Ushahidi. At our OSCON exhibit booth, presentation, and Birds of a Feather session, we were struck by the number of people who shared their own experiences contributing to global Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software (HFOSS) projects, participating in hackathons-for-good, or even starting their own local, technology-focused nonprofits. More than ever before, we saw the open source community coming together around technology-for-good.

This year, July is again a time to pause, and take stock, but also to look to the road ahead. To date, more than one thousand people—from designers, developers, and product managers to translators, technical writers, and QA—have signed up to contribute to or learn more about our Project Partners’ HFOSS projects. People like Errietta, a student from the UK who is fixing bugs in her spare time. People like Markus, an experienced contributor from Germany who is dedicating countless hours working on the newly released Mifos X platform, even helping with Google Summer of Code. And, people like the more than five hundred coders who have never been involved in open source before volunteering with SocialCoding4Good. It’s time for us to take the next step, and support this growing contributor community.

To that end, we’re thrilled to officially introduce our new Developer Community Manager, Emma Irwin. She brings a wealth of experience as an open source contributor, educator, and volunteer, and is also a Mozilla Rep for Webmaker. Since joining us this spring, Emma has personally guided more than a hundred volunteers as they join and contribute to the growth, and impact, of our partners’ open source communities. Later this year, she’ll be launching communication and participation tools for SocialCoding4Good volunteers and Project Partners, enabling members to share their experiences and the community to better support our many new contributors.

This July, we celebrate the SocialCoding4Good community. To the individuals and corporations, contributors and collaborators who are making this initiative thrive we say: Thank You! We are reminded yet again of the power of the open source software community to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges, and the lasting, transformative impact that contributing to humanitarian projects has for millions around the globe. Don’t know about you, but we can’t wait until next July!

In Portland? Meet Emma Irwin in person at OSCON this week, or find her on Twitter @sunnydeveloper.