Striving for greatness

Thoughts on emerging tech, open source, and life

[Gentoo] Do we have a vision?

Lance today brought up the lack of a global vision for Gentoo. He suggests that the council come up with one; another promoted idea would re-create a “visionary” position similar to what Daniel Robbins used to do. Both ideas sound alright, but the question is: Does Gentoo need a created, artificial vision? Or is it more of a living organism that just flows in directions based on what its parts do?

I’m of the latter opinion, as you may guess. Accordingly, I think Gentoo doesn’t need to create a vision but already has one. We just don’t realize what it is, because we haven’t put the pieces of the puzzle together. We need to construct a collection of microscopic goals and ideas, then let them coalesce through discussion into a global Gentoo vision.

Over the past couple of days, I’ve been reading a speech by Richard Hamming of Bell Labs called “You and Your Research.” Hamming tells his audience how to do truly great work; Nobel-quality work. The answer sounds simple: Only work on important problems, and don’t let the small stuff distract you.

Hamming said this about how the size of your vision relates to how high you need to advance in the project:

I went to my boss, Bode, one day and said, “Why did you ever become department head? Why didn’t you just be a good scientist?” He said, “Hamming, I had a vision of what mathematics should be in Bell Laboratories. And I saw if that vision was going to be realized, I had to make it happen; I had to be department head.”

When your vision of what you want to do is what you can do single-handedly, then you should pursue it. The day your vision, what you think needs to be done, is bigger than what you can do single-handedly, then you have to move toward management. And the bigger the vision is, the farther in management you have to go. If you have a vision of what the whole laboratory should be, or the whole Bell System, you have to get there to make it happen.

The same idea applies to Gentoo. Perhaps people with a global vision should get together and talk about their ideas for a Gentoo direction. Who’s got one?


Written by Donnie Berkholz

January 2, 2006 at 11:17 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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