Ever since Intel’s MeeGo-cedes-to-Tizen announcement, I’ve been in a slightly unfocused state. It’s familiar territory– when Maemo was set aside by Nokia for MeeGo, there was the same quandary: what now? Better yet, what next?
After a little over two years of scant free time, I’m finally working normal hours. So that liberates me for more community engagement, aka the stuff I really love. It also frees me up to think. But looking back on the past 5 years of support for open source projects with great promise but ultimate abandonment, I’m left to wonder what to target.
I asked that question out loud not long ago and concluded that adding Windows Phone to my repertoire makes sense. I already have the skills and connections. But so does including Qt, and so I’ve been plunging into QML recently as I await the delivery of a Nokia WP phone for development. I find that, in both cases, developer/enthusiast communities for both platforms are small and quiet in my area. So I feel obligated to help build them up as I did for Maemo and MeeGo.
That last thought just makes me nostalgic for a time when inspiring those communities could be as simple as posting “Just wait until you see what’s next!” on a discussion forum or IRC chat. The passion of Maemo and MeeGo advocates was undeniable. Even their complaints betrayed high interest; most people who don’t really care about a product or project won’t give you much feedback. They just leave.
I notice that the original Maemo community refuses to “just leave”. At the very least, we lament on twitter the lost chances to see each other in person once or twice a year. We hit each other up with connection requests on social media channels, as a friend did to me this morning, inspiring this post.
I’ve realized most of my true friends are nowhere close to my neighborhood. They’re in Moscow and Tampere and Mexico City and New Delhi and Vancouver and Berlin and Beijing. Sadly, one I’ll not see again.
Some in my former circles will do more than cling to contact via virtual means. Many are already in Qt and I hope to encourage more to try the waters. A few will venture into Windows Phone, especially Nokia Developer Champions transitioning from Symbian. Others have or will find homes in other related ventures like KDE, Ubuntu, Mozilla, et al. So odds are I’ll bump into some of them here or there.
What I’d really like to do, though, is form a consortium of sorts from all of these passionate, talented people. Find or create some projects, like Maemo, that fire us up again and keep us strongly connected. The opportunities are there; Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon haven’t solved every problem yet.
More than ever, creative solutions these days demand diversity of skills. The landscape moves too fast, the darlings of industry overturned too often for people to successfully coagulate into homogenous, bureaucratic masses. Those deeply embedded in the eroding status quo haven’t realized that yet. But my old Maemo and MeeGo friends do. They’re out there now, plowing new furrows in stale fields and causing wonderful disruption. They’re fast refactoring MeeGo communities into new groups, some with new but related purpose.
Even with the so-called failures of Maemo and MeeGo, I’m proud of what the members accomplished. I’m pleased to have been a part of those grand experiments. And instead of bemoaning the outcomes, let’s refocus. Retarget. Identify and support initiatives that take from and extend the best parts of both. Include rather than exclude.
Anyway, I’m not going anywhere. I’m finding new focus. I’ll see you all at Qt Project, in the Mer IRC channel, a local Windows Phone meetup or maybe some big conference somewhere. Let’s stay in touch. That’s what communities do.