This weekend I attended the Community Leadership Summit in San Jose. Before it even started, I had an interesting discussion with Jack Repenning and a man who was investigating various community models for a homeschooling organization he's working for. As we talked about the needs of the parents of homeschoolers, I realized how much they had in common with open source community members:
- They are joiners and have need of connecting with other parents like themselves
- They do not want an overt governing body controlling the way the community interacts
- They have need of shared resources and discussions
- They want to stay away from institutionalized or corporate rules and pressures, and instead want the community members to have roles emerge organically
There are likely some similarities I'm missing here, but I realized in this discussion that these types of communities can benefit from the open source community model. In an open source community, it's important that creativity is encouraged and unbound, that community members are treated equally, and that any roles assigned are appropriate and emerge out of needs rather that what an official overhead dictates. This type of community is self-regulating for the most part, if not entirely.
The parents of homeschoolers, and many groups like them, are rejecting conventional methods of education, but that does not mean they don't have a driving need for support, communal togetherness, or collaboration.They do join groups, parenting, educational, as well as many others, but they want to avoid the school "feel."
Additionally, I can see how a project model and platform would work for homeschoolers and their parents. Homeschooling often involves collaboration similar to software development. Needless to say the Subversion and TeamForge platform would be ideal so that children could work together on various projects, keeping all versions of a project and adding to it, while parents could make use of collaborating on resources, documentation, and discussion forums.
Both the open source community model and the CollabNet platform and tools would work well for the homeschooling crowd, and no doubt many other non-developer types.
I'm noticing more communities wiggling out from "the man" and opting for an open environment in which community drives and guides itself. Everyone seems to be tiring of corporate or institutional pressure and dictates. I think we'll be seeing the open source community model becoming more the norm than not over the next few years. And it will be interesting and fun to see what kind of creativity emerges from these communities of free thinkers.