OSS monkey mind

Buddhists long ago observed what they call the “monkey mind”, the idea that the mind is inherently a bit restless and fidgety. If you don’t give it a clear task, it will either keep a running commentary, or wander off on tangents. Your head becomes filled with an endless, meandering chatter – a din that has been blamed for everything from anxiety to insomnia. The solution, say the Buddhists, is to give the monkey a job. It could be watching your breath come and go (meditation), or it could be keeping a keen eye on what you’re doing (mindfulness).”
Michael Dawson

Not sure that our OSS suffer from anxiety or insomnia, but they do have a tendency to be filled with endless, meandering chatter. Over time they accumulate lots of little recurring jobs and lots of little customisations.

Controlling this is one of the reasons why I like the Agile methodology for OSS development. It provides the platform for ongoing evolution within an OSS. After all, it’s easier to dedicate time to little jobs than major overhauls. Unfortunately little jobs can easily lead an OSS off on tangents. The challenge when using Agile in OSS is for the team to have clear, transformative objectives to ensure the monkey mind doesn’t take over.

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