The special guest for this episode of Sustain our Software is Kevin Owocki. Kevin is the founder of Gitcoin, a service that links up freelance developers with people who need them and pays these developers in crypto currency. Gitcoin is a blockchain forward brand that is built on open source software and currently uses Ethereum as its crypto currency of choice rather than creating their own. They like Ethereum because of its relevance as the 2nd most popular cryptocurrency at the time of this episode. By incentivizing open source contributions, Gitcoin has become an important contributor to the funding of open source software.
Pia begins the discussion by asking Kevin how the bounty system is governed for Gitcoin and Kevin shares some of their structure, process, and philosophy on the subject as well as Gitcoin’s desire to make it easy for developers to find work on their platform. The panelists then discuss how they think the future of the job market will change with the emergence of blockchain. The discussion starts with stating that bounties are the current popular system but Eric says he would look to see a blockchain based paycheck network among other ideas. Pia questions how Eric’s ideas can scale to the larger open source ecosystems and how to have a conversation with a company to open a wallet with Ethereum. Eric responds with some of his ideas on how to make this work as well as some roadblocks they might face. One of the biggest challenges is that the technologies involved are newly emerging and this brings along some skepticism with it.
Richard then asks what Kevin’s long term view is that goes beyond the current system even though things are working really well right now. Kevin shares his aspiration that Gitcoin becomes a network that is owned, built by, and built for coders. This means that they find a way to distribute Gitcoin’s equity to the community and sustain open source through those means. Kevin shares that he does wish to go beyond the bounty system and some of his thoughts on how he hopes to accomplish that.
The conversation then moves to networks and peer communications. Pia raises a concern that some people who don’t have an aptitude for communication often get left behind. She asks Kevin how Gitcoin helps to overcome challenges for those who struggle to get involved. Kevin shares some thoughts on why certain demographics struggle and makes the point that a difference could be made in how those in the field prioritize diversity.
Kevin talks about the sustain conference and some of the great opportunities he had when he attended the prior year. He had the opportunity to talk to other professionals and share ideas on web3, blockchain and sustaining open source. The final topic covered by the panelists is who the big contributors are that are making a big difference to sustain open source. Kevin names a few companies that he feels has made a difference and a high level view of what they have done.