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Mormons for open source

Open source has clearly gone mainstream when religions start requiring it on employment applications.

Open source has clearly gone mainstream when religions start requiring it on employment applications.

It does my heart good to see my church putting its tithing dollars to work in an inspired cause: open source. A friend just sent me a job posting on the LDS Church's website calling for a Linus Torvalds-like figure to lead open-source development efforts for the LDS Church and its IT projects.

You may not want those missionaries knocking on your door, but you've got to admit that every religion needs at least one Linus Torvalds. :-)

Go to the LDS Church's employment site and type "open source" into the search box. You'll find several requirements for open-source savvy engineers (including someone familiar with Hyperic - got something to tell me, Javier? Is my tithing paying for your Wii addiction?), but this is the one that I find fascinating (and encouraging):

Technical Program Manager - Community Development


This person has the exciting responsibility in leading the Church's efforts to establish community software development efforts. The Community Development Program Manager will work with key stakeholders to identify opportunities to leverage community resources to design, develop and maintain software applications that can be made generally available. Success in these endeavors will greatly accelerate the development and proliferation of technology that can be used by church members and local leaders.

The Community Program Manager will work very closely with executive and senior leadership throughout the Church to identify opportunities suitable for community development. This person will also work with internal developers to identify, design and develop tools that can be leveraged by community developers. These tools may include APIs, Web Services, publishing or hosting platforms and documentation.

Additionally, this person will lead efforts to establish the development community. This will require initiative and creativity to identify and coordinate volunteer developers who are willing and able to contribute to Church software development initiatives.

The person filling this position must be a self-starter, and willing and excited to pioneer the use of volunteer developers in the creation of Church software applications. The job will be challenging -- but the potential impact is enormous.

You bet it is. As just one example, I'm a genealogy enthusiast. Think of how cool it would be if genealogy worked upon open-source principles rather than the klugey, time-intensive way that it currently does? (I'm not just talking about the research side of it, but also the LDS Church's old-fashioned database architecture it uses, i.e., a big Oracle server rather than clusters of MySQL servers. Stop wasting my tithing on Larry Ellison's jets when Google et al. have demonstrated that clustered MySQL can spank Oracle.)

All that said, the real news in this is that open source must be mainstream when it is being promoted from the, er, pulpit. If the LDS Church starts requesting open-source development expertise in its job openings, how long until your school district, fire department, etc. all start to ask for the same?

I'd hazard a guess that many already are. If they're not, they soon will.

So, if I were you, given that you'll be much happier if you code for open-source projects, as Jon Williams of Kaplan Test told the OSBC audience earlier this week, and you'll be much better paid as an open-source developer, put down that C++ manual and start writing some open-source code. I'm happy to be tithed to pay you. :-)