Jon Udell opines, and I strongly agree, that software projects are closely connected to those who work on them
. I quote:
One especially useful perspective was Brian Behlendorf's. As co-founder of both the Apache Software Foundation and then CollabNet, Brian observes the confluence of open source and outsourcing from a unique vantage point. He believes, and I agree, that we should embrace the reality that software projects are not separable from the people who work on them.
"What's the skillset to be able to jump into the codebase of something like Mozilla, read the architecture docs, and figure out the makefiles? Computer science classes don't teach you how to dive into foreign codebases."
Of course, that's increasingly becoming a social networking skill. I recently got interested in the new XML version of Sleepycat's Berkeley DB. If you go through the front door, on the Sleepycat Web site, you won't find out much about that project, which is still in beta. But John Merrells, who's working on the beta project, has a Weblog. You can get in touch with him, and he can help guide you.