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The Open Source Influencer

I've been interested in tech content creation recently and have been trying to guess the future of this modern programming career path. I'm constantly intrigued by devs who are able to escape wage slave jobs and become self sufficient somehow, whether it is by starting a business (the old way) or the new ways of social media influencing or content creation. Creating a software company definitely seems to be much harder nowadays in software than it was, say, 10-15 years ago, and A LOT less enjoyable than the scenarios I present below.

Since Github is now a social media site where you can even look up developers by their popularity, is it possible that this will become a future career path in programming, just as Youtuber became a career path for acting/comedy/cook/whatever else?


1. Open Source Guru

  1. Be a 10X dev or expert in some area
  2. Create or contribute to useful projects project(s)
  3. Market project (or have followers/contributors do it) on social media
  4. Start writing blogs, streaming, and/or making videos about that content and more. Optional because these guys are good enough to just get picked up by a top company.

2. Twitch Programmer

  1. Be entertaining
  2. Make tech videos or stream
  3. Gather a following and sponsors
  4. Create project on video or stream
  5. Use following to boost project
  6. Start selling stuff

These scenarios could lead to the opportunity of quitting your day job and starting to earn an income from donations or sponsorships (GH, Patreon, etc). It seems like a nerdy version of a beauty blogger teaching how to put on makeup and then pushing a cosmetic line...or an artist who streams painting and then sells their works to viewers ...or even a battle worn veteran who tells war stories of how he killed a bunch of really bad dudes and then starts a coffee company or something...I don't know!


I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the influence these content creators have on young programmers. I have certain opinions about the format in which the content is delivered. For example, if done incorrectly, a stream can be a huge waste of time for the viewer, even if it is entertaining. Maybe no one wants to admit that though and would say that the engagement factor is important for learning.

Will young programmers want to just become a tech influencer instead of putting in the time working a terrible office job at least once like the rest of us? My guess is not on a large scale like with regular social media, since programmers tend to keep to themselves and be less outgoing.

Another thing that I think about is how these tech influencers are...influencers in the sense that they can be idolized, which in turn can make product (courses, merch, promo codes, etc) sales predatory, similar to what it's like on non-tech social media.

A Realistic Scenario

Obviously, the second scenario is not exactly probable or possible for everyone to do.

I speculate that the first scenario can become more mainstream in the future, at least for a seasoned developer (10+ years, or 10Xer) who prefers to not be in the death grip of a software company. I suppose this scenario is analogous to being a contractor and accepting a grant to work on an open source project that you like, but with the addition of having individuals as supplemental sponsorships. Basically, you're working on something you're passionate about and people throw money at you for it.

Tech Influencer Network

A tech influencer from Scenario 1 or 2 builds his brand and decides to convert into an organization. Other devs are hired and work on the org's projects, and they can even champion their own projects and get marketed through the main influencer's clout. You can see this in a lot of popular podcast networks and other Youtuber channels. I'm pretty sure this already exists among tech streamers, but I haven't looked into it much. It seems like it could be a nice boost to open source development. I could be completely wrong though and someone would point out all the reasons why this is a bad business model.

I don't know what the heck I'm talking about.