The Impact Github is Having on Your Software Career, Right Now

Over the next 12–24 months — in other words, between 2018 and 2019 — how software developers are hired is going to change radically.

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I spent 2004–2014 working at Red Hat, the world’s largest open source software engineering company. On my very first day there, in July 2004, my boss Marty Messer said to me: “All the work you do here will be in the open. In the future you won’t have a CV — people will just Google you.

This was one of the unique characteristics of working at Red Hat at the time. We had the opportunity to create our own personal brands and reputation in the open. Communication with other software engineers through mailing lists and bug trackers, and source code commits to mercurial, subversion, and cvs repositories were all open and indexed by Google.

Fast-forward to 2017, and here we are living in world that is being eaten by open source software.

There are two factors that give you a real sense of the times:

  1. Microsoft — long the poster child for closed-source proprietary software and a crusader against open source — has embraced open source software whole-heartedly, forming the .NET Foundation (which has Red Hat as a member) and joining the Linux Foundation. .NET is now developed in the open as an open source project.

2. Github has become a singular social network that ties together issue tracking and distributed source control.

For software developers coming from a primarily closed source background, it’s not really clear yet what just happened. To them, open source equals “working for free in your spare time”.

For those of us who spent the past decade making a billion dollar open source software company however, there is nothing free or spare time about working in the open. And the benefits and consequences of working in the open are clear: your reputation is yours and is portable between companies. Github is a social network where your social capital, created by your commits and contribution to the global conversation in whatever technology you are working, is yours — not tied to the company you happen to be working at temporarily.

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