I enjoyed reading this post at l2admin, celebrating some of the big names in open source development. Of course, we can all argue about names which didn’t make this particular list (personally I think Larry Wall and Guido van Rossum are just two of the important omissions), but what strikes me most - well, except that Mark Shuttleworth is younger than me, which is slightly dispiriting - is how globally representative the list is.
Traditionally the commercial software industry has been mainly associated with the USA, and while of course all those corporations are bursting with international employees on H-1Bs, and have international offices scattered all over, nevertheless the impression that you still get is that the USA drives most of the industry, with a few exceptions. This is of course one of the reasons behind initiatives by other countries to promote their local industries instead, such as China’s Red Flag Linux and the European research funding programme - with mixed results. It’s nice, therefore, to see the range of nationalities called out in lists like this, which reflects the meritocratic and perhaps academic style of the open source field in general.
Of course, a large number of the successful open sourcers end up in the USA eventually anyway, because by and large that’s where the money is - which is what biases where most software originates in the commercial world too of course. 😕 Still, I take heart at the diversity in this list of luminaries, which definitely reflects the diversity I see in my own open source community. Believe it or not, great stuff does get done outside of the Valley sometimes 😀