Open Source Stories with Nadia Eghbal

“It’s a community problem…”

Open source software is becoming vital to the digital world. As more websites, apps, and entire companies stake their futures on publically available and free software, the issue of sustainability is unavoidable. How do we make sure that the software we rely on is well supported?

These concerns rest heavy on the mind of Nadia Eghbal, co-founder of Feast and former Principle at Collaborative Fund. Nadia is an open source advocate and blogger who has written prolifically about the problems and frustrations reported by members of the open source community. In her Medium post, How I Stumbled Upon the internet’s Biggest Blindspot she set out to find out “what isn’t venture backable in tech.”

She found that the open source infrastructure that we all rely on is in danger, lacking the financial backing it needs and deserves. The unpaid open source developers who contribute to these code libraries and languages felt frustrated and under-appreciated. Since an increasing number of applications rely on open-source developers, it’s important that they be recognized and supported.

“We don’t realize that we’re relying on each other.”

In her latest post, There is No “My” in Open Source Nadia gave her thoughts on the recent Left-Pad, Kik, and NPM debacle. An open source developer named Azer Koçulu was forced to take down his modules on NPM titled “Kik” after being harassed by patent lawyers from the chat app with the same name. Any projects which employed Left-Pad, of which there were more than a few, were briefly broken, all because of a squabble over naming rights on unrelated products.

This is the type of vulnerability and and instability that open source advocates like Nadia believe we need to address. If tech and software really are the future of business, how can we make sure that business runs smoothly, and avoid problems like the Left-Pad case? Even the brief loss of those modules caused major problems for some. What would happen if a more widely relied upon library went down?

The implications, economic and otherwise, could be huge.

If you haven’t already, listen to our interview with Nadia to gain her perspective on what the future holds for open source programming.