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Gerry Gleason

By my resume, I am an MIT trained technologist with over twenty years in software development and IT operations. In that career, I have worked on system internals, porting kernels, writing spoolers and device drivers, and in operations I can assemble and configure just about any system from scratch as well as designing the people processes that make software development and deployment flow smoothly while meeting business requirements and schedules.

I must admit that I'm still not sure what is next, but I know I want to put more purpose back in my career. I'm still blogging directly in HTML with vi, and have been hacking some content management code (SubWiki? and PurpleWiki?), but in the long run this hacking is a means to an end. I have know for over ten years that I wanted to shift to a new focus on the trinity of Leadership, Education and Design, but I have not know how I would do this. The beginnings of a path are starting to emerge from numerous diverse threads, ideas and initiatives.

The Leadership I refer to is the leadership of service, and it is well modelled by the emergent meritocracies of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) communities. Political appointment and priviledge have no place here as the leader serves at the pleasure of the community rather than capital or authority. Should there be a failure of leadership, one of two things can happen, the project can launguish and possibly die or recover if a new leader picks the flag up from the battlefield to ralley the troups with refreshed energy, or alternatively an upstart may challenge with a new initiative by creating a "fork" where the code base diverges along separate lines. Sometimes this is the unfolding of separate visions, and a healthy development, but the forking process is not without cost, so more typically the community expresses itself before this happens and forces a change from the bottom.

There is no doubt that this kind of leadership takes skill and experience, but more often that not these leaders are forged in the process of taking on the tasks of leadership and learning quickly from peers, mentors and rapid feedback from the community made possible by networks and tools. Here we arrive at the second leaf of the trinity, Education, but not the familiar process of K-12 and then possibly university degrees. Instead I view learning as a continuous, never ending process of gaining experience, skills and wisdom by taking on more and more difficult and comprehensive tasks under appropriate guidance. The pace of advancement limited only by the choices, talents and commitment of the aspirant. I describe a [hardware project proposal] that would be developed in just this kind of learning by doing process gives more detail on this process.

For me, Design is the glue that holds all of this together. To be sure, you can focus Education and Leadership on other domains, but it is Design that turns the wheel of progress. Again we found the domain on emergent processes, in this case best represented by the organic PatternLanguage? conception of Christopher Alexander in the domain of building design or Architecture. In April, I participated with TomMunnecke in a ChiliPLoP? workshop on patterns of uplift, and at the same event there were several other PatternLanguage? workshops for different domains. Alexander's conception is being extended and mutated to fit all of these domains, and I would claim that what unifies all of them is Design.

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