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InnerSource in a Time of Isolation - Join the Conversation at ISC Spring Summit

InnerSourceCommons Spring Summit

InnerSource commons logo

Next week on 14th and 15th April, Danese Cooper VP of Special Initiatives at NearForm, will be giving a keynote at the InnerSource Commons Spring Summit 2020 and you can join in from your living room or home office. In the run up to the first-ever virtual gathering for the InnerSource Commons organization during current times of isolation, Danese tells us what the event is about and what's in it for you and your organization. She offers a glimpse at how the InnerSource Commons first originated, why InnerSource is experiencing an uptick right now and what you can do to get involved so as to reap the benefits.

About InnerSource

As the world is learning to self-isolate to slow the spread of COVID19, we’re seeing a significant uptake of interest in InnerSource. The term InnerSource was coined by Tim O’Reilly back in 2001 to describe the practice of using Open Source engineering methods inside proprietary companies. InnerSource has been shown to increase collaboration and full stack knowledge, reduce the bottleneck effects of knowledge silos, encourage innovation, and even to improve quality and employee satisfaction. The only problem is that many technology organizations have been resistant to changing ingrained behaviours, even to take advantage of InnerSource.  (You can find out more about why this is and how organizations are overcoming this fear in my follow-on blog post later this week)

A few years ago, I started an organization called Our mission is to share information, assets, and educational materials as we each work inside our respective companies at implementing InnerSource engineering methods. The idea was to collectively learn faster by sharing successes, challenges and mitigations. We managed to attract and retain a really great community of practitioners and together we bootstrapped the organization.

[caption id="attachment_300008648" align="alignleft" width="429"]

photograph of participants at 2018 InnerSource Summit EU

2018 InnerSource Summit EU at Bosch.[/caption]

We’ve been clipping along for about five years now, collecting case studies, working on a pattern language for InnerSource and holding events to broaden our reach and attract new members. Members include people who work for diverse organizations including Bosch, American Airlines, Microsoft, GitHub, Comcast, Lloyd’s, Disney, RedHat, Europace, Lucent/BellLabs, PayPal, and Sony Ericsson to name a few.  We have delivered dozens of keynotes and talks about the merits of InnerSource, have published books and articles on the subject, and have even recorded a series of online training available for free on Safari and at We’ve witnessed a growing group of vendors who see InnerSource as a key practice of modern engineering, and a verified stepping stone to success in Open Source. Last month we officially incorporated and sent off our application to become a 501(c)3 non-profit.

COVID19 and InnerSource

Enter COVID19. Suddenly the whole Tech world is sent to work from home. People’s routine is upended as they scramble to figure out how to work together over the internet while surrounded by families, pets, and unfortunately in some cases illness. But for those of us accustomed to working in InnerSource (or Open Source), working together on the internet just feels normal.

Just now we’re collaborating on virtualizing our planned Spring conference, InnerSource Summit EU. We’re also warmly welcoming each new person who turns up on our Slack channel and helping them to find their footing and to eventually feel at home. More and more of the people who turn up are trying to figure out how to help their teams and organizations stay afloat in these trying times, and we’ve been able to help if only to reassure them that working in this way is both productive and feasible. People are starting to realize they need each other online and that together we can be so much more productive.

Like most everyone else, we of the community miss in-person gatherings...but for us, they were the spice and not the substance of our existence. We feel a kinship in our shared virtual space and hope for the future. We’ll continue to gather like-minded people to increase the reach of the InnerSource method.

So if you’re trying to figure out how to work in the world today...come check us out:

To identify where InnerSource could help your organization and kick off a cultural inventory, or to start a pilot project, the team here at NearForm will be happy to arrange.  Contact us for a chat!


About the author :

Danese Cooper ran the first Open Source Program Office at Sun Microsystems starting in 1999. Some of the open source projects she helped release include Apache Tomcat,, NetBeans, Sun Grid Engine, GlassFish, OpenLDAP, OpenSolaris and OpenJDK.

Along the way she became a FOSS advocate, serving on the OSI board for a decade, advising major projects such as Mozilla, Ubuntu, and Drupal. Danese has been a Member of the Apache Software Foundation for 15 years and was also the first female CTO of Wikimedia Foundation and the first Chair of the Node.js Foundation.

Insight, imagination and expertly engineered solutions to accelerate and sustain progress.