What’s an influencer, anyway? This is the question that rings out in my mind as I attempt to internalize the fact that I have been named one of the Top 100 UK Open Source Influencers for 2022 as part of their 2023 honours list #OpenUKHonours23. It’s definitely an “honour” to be recognized by OpenUK for my work in this way. But when we think of internet “influencers,” open source usually doesn’t come to mind. What I think and hope it means to be an open source influencer is that people are listening to what I have to say, be it on social media, in blog posts, videos, or whatever channel. But with great power comes great responsibility, right? So what can I use this currency, this influential authority, for?
I hope that I’ve influenced people to pay attention to ethical technology development, to the importance of privacy and personal dignity, and to the importance of building diverse and inclusive communities as we build tools, services, and applications for people. I also hope I’ve influenced people to understand the importance of community efforts, open source, and open standards in helping to build a technology ecosystem on the internet that is sustainable and exists to build people up and support society, starting from supporting marginalized groups.
Halfway through 2022, I changed jobs, joining Snyk as Open Source & Open Standards Strategy Director. One thing that attracted me to Snyk was its stance on workplace flexibility. I hope to influence in 2023 by banging the drum a little about the importance of flexibility in the workplace in our industry. Another reason I moved was that I’ve become increasingly aware of the issues around software security in the apps, services, and websites that we all use, every day in the course of our lives. Software security is a hugely important issue and I’m proud to be working with organizations such as the Open Source Security Foundation to increase overall awareness in the developer community of these issues and to help develop software tools and best practices to level up security. I hope to spend some influencing currency on spreading the word about the importance of security to more developer communities, outside of the core community of developers who are already paying attention. One way I hope to do this is to influence people from across different communities to come together and talk to each other. This can be challenging in this non-post-pandemic world we’re living in but I’m going to put some of my energy into creating these spaces and opportunities for dialog.
On that note. I’d also like to spend some of my influential cred to encourage people to take a look at the State of Open conference coming up in London on the 7th and 8th of February – for which I’ve been an advisor. It’ll be free to attend virtually and relatively low cost (£200) for people to come to the physical event and it’ll be a place to celebrate open tech of various kinds. Considering the different communities that will be coming together for this event, I hope it will be a good opportunity to get some of those cross-community discussions going.
I hope I can influence more people to contribute to open source and open standards. This means individuals and organizations. Organizations that employ people can and should be empowering individuals to make contributions to open technology projects – which can mean deliberately making it part of people’s jobs and can also mean ensuring people have the space away from their jobs to contribute to community efforts.
Finally in the arena of social media I hope I can influence more people to join me in embracing the decentralized, federated and open source platforms of the #Fediverse (which includes this blog and places like Mastodon and Pixelfed).
Anyway those are some of the things that came to mind when I was unwrapping my medal on new years eve – yes I have a physical medal, with a lanyard and everything. I hope I can be worthy of this recognition from an industry group I really admire. And I hereby pledge to use these newfound powers only for good.
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