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The cookie jar metaphor

Searching for "cookie jar metaphor" on Google you will find the well known "hand in the cookie jar" one, so coming up with a new metaphor that relies on the same concept might sound pretty ambitious... However, it came to my mind like this and I do not want to change it, no matter if it will be drowned in an ocean of unrelated information.

The thing is: suppose I have been using a cookie jar to save my money for a while and now I have collected a rather good amount of it. One day I decide I want to give my money to those people who really need it and  start sharing the contents of my cookie jar, so I open it, I put it on the table in my kitchen, I put a sign next to it saying "Free money, take as much as you need", then I leave my door unlocked so anyone could enter and get that money.

Would that money be really shared with others? Would that be shared with others who need it?

I have been writing free code basically since I write code. Every time I released a new piece of software (well, usually not amazing apps) I uploaded it somewhere and put a link on my website. Well, for a while my website has been a hacker's challenge closed to search engines and most of Internet users :-), but apart from that I have tried nevertheless to share my discoveries in one way or another. When I started to do research, I tried to do the same with my discoveries, tools, and datasets. I actually had a chance to share some of my stuff with some people and every time it has been a win-win situation, as I learned from others at least as much as they did from me.

What I have learned, however, is that most of the time I have just opened my cookie jar on the table, not being able to reach many people outside, and most of all not being able to reach the ones who might have been more interested in what I was doing. I always thought that pushing too much my discoveries and accomplishments was more like showing off rather than sharing what I did, and supposed that if anyone was interested in the same things then they would have probably found my work anyway.

Well, I guess I was SO wrong about this.  Telling people around that I have that open cookie jar is my duty if what I want to do is share the money I have collected in it. So I think that this kind of communication becomes part of free software as much as writing code, and part of research as much as studying others' work and writing papers about yours.

So now here's the problem: how to share my stuff more effectively? I guess being more active within specific communities (those who might get the best out of what I share), using other channels to communicate (i.e. I sometimes twit about my blog updates, I guess I'll do that more often - do you have #hashtags to suggest?), but most of all finding the time to do all of this.

Are you doing this? If so, do you have any comments or suggestions? Any feedback is welcome, either here or by any other electronic or real life means ;-)

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