by Bryan Kirschner on December 14, 2007 10:11am

My participation in technology was transformed by the Commodore 64.  That's why I--like others here at Port25 and over at Slashdot--still love it after 25 yearsNatales posts: "I can't emphasize enough how "mind shaping" was learning assembly language on the 6502..." Neither can I.  I was 10, and needed to learn assembly to make a game I was writing run faster. I still remember there was a free 4k block of memory up at register C000 (49152) you could use to stick your assembly code in.
 
"Participation" is a theme you've probably picked up on here at Port25. 

That's not just because most of us here share some sort of experience that enabled us to participate in technology in new and rewarding ways.  It's also because it's an important element in enabling Microsoft and open source to "grow together."

I am confident about Microsoft and open source growing together.  With that said, it's a fair point to make that the best of open source is not-- yet! --established as a universal part of "Microsoft DNA."  But a tradition of growing opportunities to participate in the opportunities offered by technology is.

It's easy to forget today that providing  free SDK's  for developers was at one time a significant departure from common industry practice -- a business model innovation. Business and technical approaches that enabled third parties to develop on top of a "platform" are a part of Microsoft's heritage.  The importance of growing the number of people able to participate in that ecosystem as creators or entrepreneurs is widely understood as simply smart business.

Following Tim O'Reilly's insight, we think broadly about the "architecture of participation" as "systems that are designed for user contribution."   One thing we do is work day by day to learn how open source concepts and approaches offer new or enhanced ways to grow participation.  And then we work to understand what's already being done across Microsoft--and what could be done that's new or different. 

After a talking with folks here (Bill Hilf is an-ex C64 hacker and Sam Ramji got started on a PET) I realized that understanding the people and projects and perspectives of our open source community inside Microsoft isn't possible without more transparency about this idea of "participation."  So this blog is an introduction for further blogs--and some new bloggers--on the ways in which we're working on and thinking about growing participation now and in the future, whether by effecting change at Microsoft, sharing information more broadly about opportunities that already exist, or working with leaders in the technical and academic communities on new ideas.
 
(And if the Commodore 64 changed your life too, by all means chime in--or share what other technology made a big difference for you!)