Open Source Initiative: 2021 Platform

7 minute read Published: 2021-02-21

This is my official announcement post for my candidacy for the OSI Board of Directors in 2021. Read on for the description of my platform and goals. This post is shared on my personal site and on the 2021 OSI Board Elections page.

Editing Note🔗

As the OSI Election was originally run in February and re-run in July, I have updated my platform post, both here and on the OSI wiki, to reflect a change in my role at Microsoft. Incidentally, that change also better positions me to support the OSI. I have also made some minor edits to my platform to reflect changes in the current political and technical state of relevant affairs, which are also reflected below. The original content is preserved in the OSI wiki history.

About Me🔗

I am a software engineer, a buddhist, and a trans and non-binary person. Today, I work in the Azure Office of the CTO's Open Source Ecosystem team, and engage in technical and community building work in both the Confiential Computing Consortium (CCC) and Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). I am also a member of the Kubernetes Code of Conduct Committee, to which I've brought a framework for Consent Culture and a Restorative approach to our incident handling procedures. I previously served on the OpenStack Technical Committee, led the OpenStack Ironic project team, participated as a developer and speaker in the MySQL community for almost a decade, and have contributed to many other projects, such as Ansible, Matrix, Mixxx, Elastic, and OpenVZ. I also served as a board member for the Consent Academy, a Seattle-based 501c(3) non-profit, for several years. Some of my views on the internal interplay between gender and buddhism were recently published in Transcending.

Views On Open Source🔗

In 2021, open source software is used at every company and in many physical products we rely on, from phones to fridges to cars. As a result, some (mostly outside this community) now believe that "open source" is a business model (not true), or that "open sourcing" something is a one-off event (also not true). This lexical confusion continues to pose a risk: views not grounded in experience and an understanding of the legal frameworks (licensing and governance) belie the complexity of choices which ultimately shape the communities of successful open source projects. A proliferation of mismanaged open source software projects will create unnecessary security and legal risk for our institutions.

To counter this, I believe we need to increase educational outreach with specific focus towards:

I agree with the objective others have stated in previous years: that the OSI should be sufficiently funded so this work does not entirely fall on volunteers. I would like to see outreach to grow the affiliate network continue so we can support increasing staff dedicated to this mission. And lastly, I could imagine additional work within, or akin to, ClearlyDefined, that might support one or more of these goals, though I do not have any specific solution in mind.

Broader Concerns🔗

Our society is, once again, grappling with the realization that technology is not neutral: like any tool, software can be used for both good and evil, to uplift or to oppress. In 2015 I was confronted with this, called on to brief a foreign military on my open source contributions, it became clear they were using software I had built in ways I did not support.

I appreciate the debate on ethical source licenses, and believe this comes from our great care for the impact our work has on society. Though I do not believe licenses are the right tool for this today, I appreciate the discussions and look forward to learning more about the tools available. I believe we need better laws regulating the civil and military use of certain technologies, for more lawyers and policy-makers to become educated on technology, and especially its impact on privacy and civil rights.

With spotlights on the abuses of machine learning and Facial Recognition Technology, which have already resulted in calls to ban FRT in the House and in some states, on social media and algorithmic bias, and on the principle of digital sovereignty, I believe that the ethical use of open source will continue to be an important, and emotionally-charged, conversation, in the years ahead.

My Background🔗

In 2003, before I knew about the OSI or OSD, I had an epiphany as I started my second job: I could no longer use tools I had built simply because that code was owned by my former (and already out of business) employer. That epiphany started me down the open source path, and I quickly came to see how this approach, if generalized, was more ethical than the alternative: if everyone could share their tools, we could all build better technolgy (and products) faster. Automation, the building and sharing of tools so that others may more quickly create better tools, is one of humanity's greatest and most unique strengths (not my article, but captures my views well).

In the early 2010's, while building OpenStack, I had the opportunity to work with several of OSI's former board members, who helped me deepen my understanding of the effect which the OSD had had on my career (unbeknownst to me before that). I've come to value this framework and the thought and care that has gone into creating and sustaining it over the years. I would like the opportunity to contribute back to the community.

What's In A Name?🔗

If you've known me for more than the last few years, you would have known me with a different name: "Devananda" never felt appropriate, only barely sufficient. The timing of the pandemic and the nature of open source community interaction means that I haven't had the chance to connect with a lot of old colleagues and friends since changing my name. Humans are social by nature, and our identities, even our sense of self, is deeply connected to how our family, friends, and community know us. However, like open source software projects that sometimes must rebrand themselves, I found that I needed to change my name, no matter how disruptive it would be. I mention this here in the hopes of connecting with folks who may not recognize "Aeva", but who would recognize my previous name.


You can reach me on Twitter at @aevavoom or by email at "aeva at aeva dot online". More ways to contact me can be found here.