May 17th,2012
Openness as a cornerstone of kLab

I was excited about the kLab right from the beginning. One day, early on, I convinced a friend of mine to pay a clandestine visit to the kLab while it was under construction, eager to show it off. But I could see from his facial expression he didn’t understand what kLab was and how important it would be for the community. Perhaps from my incredible enthusiasm he expected a spaceship or teleporter, not just a room filled with desks and chairs.

Maybe you share that sentiment, so here is one small attempt to answer that question: "What is kLab? And what will it mean for me?".

"Community, Innovation and Openness" - all three words must be intertwined to understand the kLab mission.

Who does the kLab target? Everyone who has an interest in information and technology: enthusiasts, students, engineers, designers and any others that fall under the umbrella of ICT. We can all agree that there are many that fall under those categories in Rwanda, but do they really form a community?

The numbers are there but it takes more, the truth is that a group scattered doesn't connect, misses the benefits that cohesion brings. Having kLab as a focal point, a place where minds can meet, interact and share will help create that community.

And what of Innovation? Just as we have our eyes opened when we first come to the city, so will innovation follow from seeing others around you working on new technologies. From the meeting of the minds, new ideas will sprout, differing backgrounds joining to come up with innovations not possible alone. Innovation sprouts from Community.

The culture of sharing and openness, is not common in Rwanda, or Africa in general, not because there isn't the willingness to do so but because there haven’t been many platforms to encourage it. By sharing ideas with our community openly, and by having their expertise to critique it, we gain as our dreams become further refined.

Taken a step further, we can be open with the goal to find collaborators, to not only seek feedback but also contributions. To that end we’ve open sourced the kLab website, for everyone to view, change and improve. We want this website to belong to the community, to be open, and to seek your innovations in improving it.

In this scenario everyone wins, the kLab site will be improved by the community, just as the community will be improved by the website. It can serve as both a showcase and an example, act as both a lesson and a proving ground. We hope some can learn from the code, how it was developed, how to write clean and comprehensible code.

So it is with that spirit of Openness that Nyaruka open sourced the kLab site. The project is hosted on github where anyone can fork, apply changes and propose them to be part of the site by filing a pull request. Already some contributions have come in, making the site better than before. Together, as a community we will have a chance to improve the site over time, letting it grow into our shared vision.

It is an amazing process, and we can't wait to see the equally amazing contributions from the community.

Openness yall!