Several years ago, a mentor told me to add computer tech services to my web design company’s services because “everyone’s a web designer.” His point: there’s a lot of competition in the web design and development market. With so much competition, why would web development shops like Mediacurrent place so much value in sharing industry knowledge and even custom code for free with the Drupal community? Why is it worthwhile for a for-profit company to share knowledge to a community that includes competitors?
Raise the Tide
Have you heard the phrase, "A rising tide lifts all boats." This idiom, coined by John F. Kennedy, helps us visualize the idea that when an economy is doing well, all the people within that economy will benefit. The same is true for Drupal and its community. Consider how each competitor in a cluster of fast food restaurants does better than if each competitor were spread around town equidistantly. That cluster becomes the "go to" area for fast food, and overall traffic increases. As we make Drupal better, share Drupal knowledge, and increase the level of Drupal proficiency in the community, we're improving the whole market for Drupal and open source software (OSS) in general.
Building A Better Boat
Mediacurrent places a high value on developing and supporting “contrib” modules. We regularly reserve blocks of non-billable time each week for our developers to work on contrib modules that will help our clients as well as the whole Drupal community. As Mediacurrent continues to help the community make Drupal more secure, stable, and useful, we are making the platform more valuable to all shops building Drupal websites and to the end users with websites built in Drupal.
All Hands On Deck
There is also the socially derived benefit of a large group of people working towards the same goal. There are more reasons to use OSS than just the sticker price - as more people contribute to it everyone benefits as the same shared software becomes that much better through additional effort. For example, by releasing a module into the community, other people can use it, submit patches, identify possible security flaws, etc, whereas if the code was kept internally the improvements would only come from paid staff. More openness in this way equates to more helping hands to improve the product.
Recruiting A Better Crew
Being a company that gives to the same community from which it hires plays a large role in recruiting great talent. Mediacurrent Partner Dave Terry stated, “The allure of working at a ‘Fortune 500’ company, especially one that has a lot of corporate politics, is just not as appealing as it once was a generation or two ago. This is especially true if they just don't ‘get’ open-source principles and values. An organization involved in an OSS project is able to establish immediate credibility with a developer if they have a track record of involvement.”
Giving back also takes the form of education and professional development benefits. Mediacurrent provides all employees an annual stipend for continuing education which demonstrates they are willing to invest in their people. This helps foster a culture among us that is ever striving to learn more about our craft and be the best Drupal shop we can.
You’ve likely heard the old saying, “the more you give, the more you receive.” Mediacurrent has experienced this in spades. The economy of Drupal continues to flourish. The Drupal platform gets better and better year after year. The Drupal community and our own company culture are positively impacted by Drupal/OSS principles and values. The Drupal tide is rising, and we’re happy to be in the boat.
Contributing takes on all shapes and sizes such as providing support to your fellow Drupal users, writing Drupal tutorials, testing the platform, or developing new modules or patches to Drupal core. Check out the many different ways you can get involved with the Drupal project at https://drupal.org/contribute.
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