It looks like we've gone from speculating whether we're headed into recession depression, to speculating just what that depression is going to look like. Yihong Ding, over on the Thinking Space blog,predicts that we'll have a "Golden Age" of the Web thanks to millions sitting at home with little else to do than putter around on the Web:
So, Web companies and Web investors, now it is your chance. You are going to have more users who are more experienced in real life. The input by these new users would significantly improve the quality and diversity of the Web content. Are you going to grasp this opportunity? Have you noticed their compelling capability of producing (comparing to the earlier regular Web content generators)? Are you able to provide these people new ways of value production from home?
If that's the case, shouldn't we be expecting a "Golden Age" for open source, with all the idle programmers and IT folks at home with time on their hands? I can think of several reasons why unemployed IT folks should consider digging into an open source project over catching up on their soaps in the interim:
- Brush up and hone skills. Don't get rusty -- be prepared for the upturn by staying active and have work to show for your time off. Would you rather discuss the patches you contributed with a potential new boss, or the latest developments in daytime TV?
- Scratch that itch. If there's a feature you've always wanted to see added to your favorite FOSS application, now's a good time to dive in.
- Get your foot in the door. Many have predicted that the downturn will be good for, or at least not as bad, for open source companies. Working with the development teams might be a good way to get your foot in the door when they start hiring.
- Avoid going stir-crazy and make contacts. While IRC and mailing list conversation aren't the same as going to work every day, participating in a FOSS project means an opportunity to communicate with developers all over the world. Making connections with other developers may mean a shot at a job you wouldn't hear about otherwise.
- You've always wanted to. One of the most common themes I hear from people I meet at various conferences is "I'd love to contribute, if only I had time..." Unfortunately, now there's time. Might as well make the best of it.
Of course, this all presupposes that the economy is going to get worse and not better, and that we'll have lot of people out of work with idle time. While I'd always welcome more contributions to openSUSE and FOSS in general, I'm really hoping that's not the way we get them.