Episode 98

Silona Bonewald and her long-term vision for IEEE and open source


November 19th, 2021

37 mins 6 secs

Your Host
Special Guest

About this Episode


Silona Bonewald


Richard Littauer

Show Notes

Hello and welcome to Sustain! The podcast where we talk about sustaining open source for the long haul. Today, our guest is Silona Bonewald, who is the Executive Director of IEEE SA OPEN, which is a comprehensive platform offering the open source community cost-effective options for developing and validating their projects. She is also the Founder of Leadingbit Solutions. We find out why Silona was a taker, not a maker, when she first got into open source, how she went from writing code to working on policy, how she ended up at IEEE, and what SA OPEN does. She reveals her long-term vision for IEEE and open source, how she feels about standards using her Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups metaphor, working on certifications, and she shares her thoughts on where she thinks we will be down the road in the distant future in terms of badges and certification for open source. Go ahead and download this episode to learn much more from Silona!

[00:01:30] Silona tells us how she was a taker, not a maker, when she first got into open source.

[00:05:20] At some point Silona segued from writing code to working on policy and she tells us how that happened.

[00:06:53] We find out how Silona ended up at IEEE and what SA OPEN does.

[00:09:08] Silona talks about her long-term vision for both IEEE and open source.

[00:11:30] Standards are explained by Silona, how they work, why they think in decades, and who the 30,000 people are involved with standards.

[00:14:17] In regard to talking to developers, Richard wonders if Silona feels like she’s often trying to talk in two languages again when people would come into the room while she was coding.

[00:18:48] Silona tells us about working on doing certifications and how they are going through badges and are in the design phase right now. She also mentions that IEEE recruits from engineering schools all over the world to get their members.

[00:20:00] Richard wonders if some people think certifications are scary and they won’t be able to get them, will this slow down open source development by forcing people to jump through hoops in order to do work.

[00:22:00] Find out about a conversation Silona had with Richard Rockefeller and Larry Brilliant. She talks about an experiment they are doing with three advisory groups which include the technical advisor, marketing advisor, and community advisor, which Georg from CHAOSS is running. Also, she tells us about a great article to check out written by Dries Buytaert on the “Makers and Takers.”

[00:28:20] Richard mentions a great episode to check out on CHAOSScast Podcast with guest Stephen Jacobs, and he gives a shout-out to Rachel Lawson at Drupal.

[00:28:55] Silona shares her thoughts on where she thinks we will be fifty years down the road in terms of badges and certification for open source.

[00:34:14] Find out where you follow Silona on the internet.


[00:09:59] “You can pull the data back out, but can you pull the community back out of GitHub?”

[00:13:36] “But, I really do love the not doing the corporate dominance aspect, and the trying to achieve the balance pieces I think is really important when you’re creating a standard, especially if you want true adoptability.”

[00:14:27] “My favorite little metaphor now is chocolate and peanut butter. You put your peanut butter in my chocolate. Oh, you put your chocolate in my peanut butter. And then you’ve got the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.”

[00:23:29] “It’s hard to teach non-profits to become a software company.”


  • [00:35:08] Richard’s spotlight is Tom “Spot” Callaway, Episode #52 on Sustain Podcast where he was a guest, and listening about his adventure in Canada.
  • [00:35:48] Silona’s spotlight is InnerSource Commons and the Patterns Working Group.


Support Sustain