Stumbled on this page which lists some “traits” of hackers (in the sense of people that like to investigate and hack on things, not ‘hack’ into computers illegally).
Reading this, you realize why open source software exists: passionate and curious people who scratch that itch by writing code in the long hours of the night because they love doing it.
The end result is often quite useful (Linux, Firefox, Gaim, gcc, emacs, apache, perl, WordPress), sometimes just fun (FreeCiv, Tux Racing) and always educational (but possibly only for the person who made it) and hopefully inspirational (“Wow, something that good is both free and I can see exactly how it was made and even contribute!?”).
Software development is one of the few things that a person can do both professionally and as a hobby with the exact same tools: a text editor and a compiler. Something on the scale of Firefox can’t be made in a day, or even a month, but it can actually be done with no cost and lots of dedication. Linux itself was actually created by a single person (Linus Torvalds), but is now worked on by thousands of people in both their spare and professional time.
I encourage any developers out there who read this to look at any code you’ve written in your spare time (or even professional if you can get your employer to agree to it) and ask yourself if this could benefit the community at large even if you haven’t completed it. Maybe you have a pet project that you started but ran out of time for. Release it under one of the Open Source licenses. You can have as much or as little control over what people do with it as you want. I can’t guarantee someone will pick up the torch and use it, but you never know. And if you’re not using it, why not? If someone does use it, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you made somebody else’s life easier and creating something useful(!).
Go forth and code!