Josh Simmons

Last modified by Josh Simmons on 2016/04/05 11:27

tshirt model.jpgMy name is Josh and I’m running for a seat on OSI’s Board of Directors because I have a vision for the future of free, libre, and open source. It’s bigger than software, it’s more inclusive, and it emphatically emphasizes the role of the individual open source committer in the face of corporate funded foundations that sometimes distort the true spirit of open source.

This isn’t just my vision and these aren’t just my concerns. While it does reflect my values, the vision is a reflection of what I hear in the community. Elected to the board, I will use my skills as a community organizer to corral support for this vision and further the work of the OSI.

Why you should vote for me

If you believe, like I do, that open source is world changing and that it faces existential challenges despite becoming mainstream, then you should vote for me. If you believe that my experience demonstrates my ability to get things done (and make waves), then you should vote for me.


I have a vision. So what? I also know how to map from big ideas to action. Here are some specifics about what I want to accomplish with, for, and through the OSI:

Get newbies into open source: I want to open the floodgates and get tons of new people from different backgrounds into open source by collaborating with programs like Outreachy, Google Summer of Code, and FLOSS Desktops For Kids.

Mentor the next generation of leaders: This is fuzzier for me, but I know it's important. Making open source sustainable requires a lot of things, not the least of which are leaders who can carry the torch. We're getting good at minting new contributors, but leaders? This is a problem we need to solve.

Expand access: It's no secret that technology is dominated by men, mostly white. We desperately need people from different backgrounds in the community if we're to make this a truly global movement. I see great work along these lines happening at Outreachy, through financial assistance programs at conferences like PyCon AU, groups like Black Girls Code, Django Girls, and Free Geek. We should highlight this work and amplify it.

Embrace non-technical contributors: We praise engineers above all else and that's to our detriment. We need writers, designers, community organizers, and, yes, even marketers. I'm a huge fan of the "Let's All Build Hat Racks" idea which now has an open source tool: Octohatrack. Even simple things like encouraging folks to drop the word "code" from "code sprints" can make a difference here.

Spread the open ethos: This is about a lot more than software. There's open access, hardware, materials, data, textbooks, pharma, and government. Permissive licensing is a BIG deal and we should partner with forward thinking people and organizations in other industries to help them navigate the world we've pioneered in technology.

Grow the OSI membership: This seems like a no brainer. I'm a card carrying NPR, OSI, and SFC supporter; we need these organizations to continue their stewardship over the things we care about and funding is critical. The more members we have paying into these organizations, the less reliant we are on big companies, the less vulnerable we are to being co-opted and corrupted.

Who I am

I'm a web developer and community organizer with a penchant for armchair philosophy, currently working as a Community Manager at O'Reilly Media covering open source (read: OSCON) and web technology.

I come from a privileged background, though I never could afford college, I scrapped (and failed) as a freelancer and startup-er for 11 years, and, as a short queer neuroatypical human, I have my own way of relating to the less privileged. I am most passionate about the commons, the fourth estate, and human rights and I think the open ethos can make waves in all of those spaces.

All this said, I try not to take myself too seriously. Music, comedy, beer, my cat, and good company help keep me sane while we pursue important work.

My defining trait, I think, is the breadth of my experience and my ability to bridge gaps with communication. My varied experience allows me to code switch as I speak with engineers and businesspeople as well as legal and financial types. This, combined with my experience as a community organizer, makes me a very effective change agent.

Further, my appreciation of the history and nuances of free software put me in a great position to work with purists, pragmatists, and nonbelievers alike.

Looking for more specific information about me? Look me up on LinkedIn (yes, yes, I know) or just ping me directly -- I'll be happy to regale you with stories about my experience as a web developer (I <3 LAMP), as both a volunteer and professional community organizer, and as an activist.


_bnj9085-square-small.jpg Hello world! You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, or as bluesomewhere on Freenode. Email is cool, too, I guess: [email protected].


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