(Name is subject to change. Oy, that sounds awful. But then, so does the original…)
Like so many ideas, this one started with a quick tweet that turned into a “hmm, this could actually be something”
Is there a nanowrimo-like thing for code? Seems like the same model could work well for patches/plugins/FOSS projects in general.
— Amy Hendrix (@sabreuse) November 1, 2012
For those who aren’t familiar with it, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month — the wonderfully crazy idea that thousands of total amateurs should sit down and write every day in November in order to finish a novel in a month. And they’d have community support, feedback, cheerleading, progress-tracking tools, and whatever else might help them along.
What they don’t have is the expectation that every novel that’s produced has to be a great masterpiece, or even publishable. A lot of people outside the project have sneered at NaNo over the years because it’s full of (sniff) amateurs who aren’t real, serious, writers; NaNo, in turn, just doesn’t give a shit. The people who do it year after year know that they’re getting something out of it regardless of the final product. They’re building a daily writing habit that they can take beyond this month. They’re finishing a thing — a thing that a great many people have dreamed of doing someday. And it turns out that a surprising number of them actually are “real” writers1, and they use NaNo to jumpstart projects, reset their work habits, and come out with perfectly serviceable shitty first drafts of something that — with much more work and editing and revision — will become a truly finished novel. Plus, they have a lot more fun doing it than any of the sniffers on the sidelines.
I’ve been thinking a lot this year about getting people into code, whether they’re beginners writing their very first Hello World, or experienced webheads who don’t identify as coders even when they write beautiful and clever code all day.
I live and breathe open source, and one thing every project always needs is people — their patches can always be improved with good feedback, but if the people aren’t there, full of enthusiasm and a sense that they can be a part of something really quite cool, then we’ve got nothing. Why not use NaNo-like tools of community support, feedback, and enabling the work to happen to nurture our own community?
So I’m launching this idea in hopes that it’ll be as intriguing for other people as it is for me. I don’t have a goal as concrete as a finished draft of a novel in mind2, but feel free to comment with any ideas for a good one-month chunk of stuff. And please spread the word, and keep posting your own progress!