To be extremely honest, I had never really understood open-source software. I always worked for myself and from being in this extremely competitive world, I had this notion in my head that whatever I do should be safe-guarded from anyone else who would claim my work as their own.
I hadn’t really thought about why open-source software exists. I have always been an AI enthusiast and casually used all of the popular open-sourced libraries without having to think of why someone would reveal all of this code to the public? Why are all these developers sharing their life’s work? All of these questions kept bothering me till I finally heard of “Google Summer of Code”.
Social Peer Pressure
It was just after Covid-19 began and I was beginning to stress about what I was going to do with all this time on my hands. Around the month of May, all I got from LinkedIn was people talking about GSoC. Like most people who are introduced to open-source software by GSoC, I was one of them too.
This was extremely intriguing for me because this is clearly something big right? Why else would everyone be so happy if they were accepted by an organization for them to work? This definitely peaked my curiosity and I dug a little deeper. I was immediately shocked by what GSoC was and this answered one of my questions, “Why are all these developers sharing their life’s work?”. It was simple reasons of sheer dedication towards an organization and helping the community grow. I wanted to be a part of this “community”. I began looking at organizations to work with, technologies that interest me and be of use to this community.
In the month of December of 2020, I found this interesting Python package called SunPy. At first glance, I understood it was something to do with Astrophysics; mainly the sun. I’m a Computer Science undergraduate student who had never worked with anything but Math and Computers my whole life and discovering SunPy was not really of much interest to me. I didn’t put much thought into it, I clicked on the Github issues page and found a beginner issue to work with and thought to myself, “It wouldn’t hurt to give this a shot, maybe I’d like it” and, boy, was I right.
I didn’t really care for Astrophysics or GSoC when I started, I was just happy that I contributed to something that scientists studying the sun use! I was happy just knowing the fact that my teeny little contribution (which was something to do with code documentation) is helping someone, somewhere, do their work better. This simple thought fascinated me so much that I immediately started looking for another issue to solve.
Fast forward 5 months later and we’re in the month of April, 2021. I have really grown to like contributing to SunPy. From not knowing how to use git to having to open Github first thing in the morning to tinker around with SunPy, I have really grown to love open-source contribution and have developed massive new found respect for code developers and maintainers for all open-source projects. It takes a lot of effort to continue maintaining such organized code and contributing to SunPy made me realize that people do all of this for the sole purpose of making other people’s lives easier! It’s not the recognition or fame that comes with open-sourced software that people like, it’s the ability to create and develop something which is for everyone. In addition to the fact that anyone can help out, not only makes it better but enhances growth and learning from people across the world. This is what I loved about open-source, the ability to learn from someone else’s work for free!
Here’s to open-source 🍻
I do like to admit it, I was introduced to SunPy and the open-source community by GSoC but I’m here to stay for as long as possible. I hope to be a maintainer or a lead developer of an open-source project that is as vast as SunPy. I’m going to be giving my proposal for GSoC 2021 with SunPy but I made a promise to myself that regardless of the outcome of my proposal, I will continue to contribute to this organization that taught me so much.