What is SourceCred’s product, in its most fundamental essence and seen using a people-first lens?
One can think of SourceCred (SC) as an open source tool to help communities and organizations measure, value, and appropriately reward the contributions made by its people. While this sounds rather tech-first, its entire raison d’être is to empower and reward people on a fairer, egalitarian, and (actual!) meritorious basis.
SourceCred operates on a model of equipotentiality, a perspective which holds that every human being has something worthy and valuable to contribute, no matter their skill set or experience. Equipotentiality also believes that people themselves should determine what contributions they want and are best suited to make. This may well—and often does—include a desire to be told what to do, shown or taught how to do it, and assessed on their efforts before tackling the work fully independently. Apprenticeship is the best form of skill development and mastery.
But that still only covers the technical product of SourceCred, which I loath to call the product of SourceCred (and not just for the pedantic reason of a “product” being the sum of its parts). One of the more profoundly meaningful outputs of the SC project and its people is the community itself; more specifically, its culture, values, and norms.
The Vision Of SourceCred includes, ::in my mind::, the indisputable belief that all people deserve to be treated with kindness and respect, supported in their basic human needs, offered opportunities to contribute, and welcomed and accepted for who they truly are. But: simply having that belief does not guarantee its outcome, of course.
The SourceCred community comprises many individuals whose work involves few technical contributions; they are not coders or devs, designers or engineers. Instead they contribute culture: art, philosophy, shadow work, emotional labor, personal assistance, and so on. These contributions are valued and rewarded using the SourceCred technology, and are considered equally important to the success of SourceCred. They are, in reality, just as much the “SourceCred product” as the technologies facilitating this value-reward system.
What is “value,” anyway?
Who defines what is valuable?
Capitalism espouses the gross, reductionist view that “what is valuable” is what is transactional and given a price tag. Many millions of people around the world are waking up to the reality that this is an incomplete picture, an unjust measure, and utterly unsustainable as a system.
“Value” is subjective, of course, but if we limit our views on economic value to that which can be measured using objective and tangible means, and transaction-based standards, we nullify the legitimate value of the work that actually keeps our society afloat: the cultural values, norms, and artifacts that drive our best behaviors; the mentorship and guidance of wise elders; the emotional labor of holding space and supporting each other through hardships and stress; the housework, child-raising, and cooking etc. of stay-at-home partners (overwhelmingly women), without whose labor the working partner(s) would rapidly be overwhelmed and likely, eventually, incapacitated.
Self-care is a contribution.
— Dandelion Mané, founder/creator of SourceCred
Taking care of yourself so you can take care of others (or simply focus on your work and do it well) is an essential contribution that is given no tangible value under capitalism, but is invaluable for the well-being of a functioning society. The exploitation of labor under late-stage capitalism is optimized to extract value from workers while rewarding them only minimally, if at all. Increasingly fewer contributions that humans make to support each other’s successes are being under-valued, under-rewarded, even ignored.
SourceCred’s mission, ::in my mind::, is to turn that detrimental system inside out. To dismantle the economic systems we use, identify and excise their toxic and unsustainable elements, and preserve the qualities that do work well. The free market as the end-all, be-all has utterly failed to deliver on its promises, and has been proven endlessly to be a catastrophic failure in terms of human survivability (see e.g. people denying climate change while first-hand suffering unprecedented flooding or fires, simply to preserve their indoctrinated views of capital markets). This is not to say there is no merit or value to a free market; it is simply evidence that we need more different ways of being, economically and societally, and less dependency on all systems that prioritize profits over people.
SourceCred facilitates and creates some of these much-needed different solutions. Which brings us full circle to the original question: what is the product of SourceCred?
I argue that, in its truest sense, the product is love.
Love is composed of four elements: truth, connection, possibility, and change. Products or communities cultivated with great love embody and represent these elements in significant or obvious ways. SourceCred:
- reveals the truth of what has value and meaning to people and communities;
- builds connection through social and technical means, including retroactively to any person from our past who made a lasting, positive impact on us;
- inspires hope by making other ways of existing and thriving possible in an exploitative world;
- enacts change that reimagines and reshapes the world in a fairer, more equitable and just way.
Justice is love at scale.
— DeRay McKesson
A telltale sign of the presence of great love in something is when people encounter it and say “oh I love this,” or “I love what you’re doing!” It is when serendipity (a common side effect of love) is frequently experienced, even by newly joined individuals. It is when there is a peaceful light in your heart when you work on it.
I love SourceCred, because the essential product of SourceCred is Love.