So I have been an active “lurker” in the software community (both online and around the city I live in). But the sad (and hard) part about this is that I really want to get involved. The hard part is knowing what I can contribute and being comfortable and motivated to do that. For me, at least, it is a high barrier of entry to join a community of people who know each other well and already have a relation in place. It is even more difficult sticking my neck out into such an established group and hoping to be accepted or fearing being rejected. In the online world, it is even more difficult as there is the ability to easily look up the history of a person. Your reputation exists in some form or doesn’t exist at all (which could be better or worse). But I am going to make it my mission these next few months to try and become active in the community(s).

The first thing I would like to do is to get involved in my local user group(s). I would like to present a talk or talk(s) about things I am working on or topics that I am interested in. The difficulty is that I feel I need to be very comfortable with the subject matter when, in reality, I just need to be interested and I will learn about it in the process of writing the talk. I could present on decorators and magic methods in Python or Python in Hackathons for the Python group. I could discuss getting the CSS out of Javascript or writing a RESTful API wrapper. But the thing I need to do is volunteer. I need to step up, stick my neck out, and try to give a good presentation (surely I have seen enough presentations to be able to give a good idea if mine is good or not).

The second thing is that I need to involve myself in the online community. This is two parts, the first is the open source community. There has to be a project out there somewhere that I can contribute to. The major barrier of entry for these is that I would need to spend time and familiarize myself with the codebase, the subject matter, and the process/style used. I always become lazy or hesitant to begin looking for areas in such projects to involve myself. But I have already done this a few times professionally and I know that there are actual trackers with a list of things that they want to be done.

The second part of the online community is the blogosphere/twittersphere/commenting public. I do write blog posts (that probably no one reads). I occasionally comment on articles I read (but I am very hesitant to sound my opinion). And I have a twitter account (that I rarely use). I only write about pretty broad subjects and I remain fearful or doubtful to share my thoughts on something in case the community doesn’t agree or I made some mistake in my comment. I believe that I just need to push myself to overcome this issue. I just need to become more willing to share my thoughts and not care about the fallout if people disagree. I need to want to write about interesting things I discover and involve myself when hearing about interesting things other people discover.

I have a lot of work invested in things that I find interesting, but all this work is kept to myself or quietly available. There is nothing out there pointing to it and drawing attention to it. I could discuss the customizations I have made to vim or the neat snippet I found for zsh the other day. I am going to try and make it a mission to write something on here once a week. I am going to try and prepare a presentation for the next open meeting for the Python user group. I am going to find an open source project, catch up on the development of it, and try to contribute to it in some way. And, finally, I am going to try to give beneficial comments on the various articles I read and like.