Episode 74

Jory Burson of OpenJS on building sustainable open source communities


April 9th, 2021

33 mins 35 secs

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Special Guest

About this Episode


Jory Burson


Justin Dorfman | Alyssa Wright | Richard Littauer

Show Notes

Hello and welcome to Sustain! On this episode our special guest is Jory Burson, who is celebrating her birthday with us today! She is the Community Director of OpenJS Foundation, which is a non-profit foundation dedicated to serving the open source JavaScript ecosystem. Today, we will learn all about what Jory does as the Community Director at OpenJS, what the OpenJS Foundation is, why it was formed, and what it formed to do. Also, Jory tells us why she couldn’t imagine working on the web without MDN (Mozilla Developer Network) Web Docs and what the future holds for MDN. In addition, find out what Jory is most excited about going forward at OpenJS. Download this episode now to find out more!

[00:01:20] Jory tells us about the OpenJS Foundation and what she means by “home.”

[00:03:01] We learn why OpenJS was formed and what it formed to do.

[00:06:25] Jory gives a brief history of how she got involved into these dynasties, also the kind of work she does at the Community Director at OpenJS.

[00:10:37] Richard asks Jory what she is doing to make sure the projects have a longer life cycle and the work that they do is sustainable in the long term.

[00:13:46] Jory tells us what her role is with MDN and she talks about how they restructured the organization.

[00:17:27] Justin asks Jory about the future of MDN.

[00:19:37] Jory talks about what they’re doing right now with working with MDN and other people to build out a shared roadmap of priorities to make MDN more useful and better than it is today.

[00:22:40] Alyssa asks Jory what the balance is and most powerful partnership between these centralizing forces, these other entities, other projects, other contributors that are more distributed, and how do we relate with one another in powerful ways in order to sustain open source.

[00:25:33] Jory tells us what’s she most excited about going forward at OpenJS.

[00:27:19] Find out where you can follow Jory on the internet.


[00:08:24] “It just blew my mind that there was that consensus of that population of people that’s that subgroup of people was going to make a choice that affected everybody.”

[00:08:42] “And so at that point, from that point on, I just became very obsessed with understanding how those decisions got made and how people work together in a group to reach technical decisions and sort of how to make the human interoperability component of our technical interoperability discussions more effective.”

[00:10:52] “So first, let me say out loud, that I am not convinced that the objective of any project should be to stick around as long as possible.”

[00:11:49] “I think the objective is to help the project understand what is its scope, what is its end game, and how can it effectively move through different life cycles of startup phase, of growth phases, of the sustained phases, or maintenance phases.”

[00:12:55] “But instead, because it was a part of the foundation, we were able to find and support new maintainers who could and did have the energy to drive that forward and how it’s really thriving.”

[00:16:42] “And so, what we decided to do was find a solution and that’s what we did, we found I think a polyfill for MDN.”

[00:20:24] “It’s interesting and kind of unfortunate that this process of moving the content off of the Wiki to GitHub has been a multi-year sort of project.”

[00:24:51] “To understand JavaScript you have to understand the whole universe is maybe too much, so how can we and at what point is it appropriate to break those layers down so people can like not have to recreate the whole world.”


  • [00:28:28] Justin**s spotlight is Buffer.com
  • [00:28:47] Alyssa’s spotlights are a shout-out to Jory’s birthday and the move to build things together to support the ecosystems.
  • [00:30:36] Richard’s spotlight is the Boston JavaScript community of 2016, Jim Kang, Aria Stewart, Jory Burson, Boaz Sender, Gregor Martynus, Ashley Williams, and everyone else.
  • [00:31:13] Jory’s spotlight is three people, Chris Mills at MDN, Dom at W3C, and Michal at jQuery.



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