Be the footnote you want to see in the world
I stumbled up the website of Gwern BranwenÂ recently for something tech-related and, as I usually do, clicked on theÂ About Me / profile linkÂ to find out more about the author. What I found greatly reminded me of Peter Drucker’s exhortation inÂ Managing OneselfÂ to take responsibility for your relationships:
Even people who understand the importance of taking responsibility for relationships often do not communicate sufficiently with their associates. They are afraid of being thought presumptuous or inquisitive or stupid. They are wrong. Whenever someone goes to his or her associates and says, âThis is what I am good at. This is how I work. These are my values. This is the contribution I plan to concentrate on and the results I should be expected to deliver,â the response is always, âThis is most helpful. But why didnât you tell me earlier?â
Under the sub-heading collaboration style, Branwen says (my emphasis):
It is much better to find some people who have tried in the past to solve a problem and bring them together to solve it, than to solve it yourself – even if it means being a footnote (or less) in the announcement. Whatâs important is that it got done, and people will be using it. Not the credit.
This is an ethos I learned working with the inclusionists of Wikipedia. No code is so bad that it contains no good; the most valuable code is that used by other code; credit is less important than work; a steady stream of small trivial improvements is superior to occasional massive edits.
I can’t tell you how refreshing this is to read.Â
CC BYÂ Early Novels Database