I've been inadvertently living off of the progress made by the open source community for my entire career as a web developer. And while I haven't given back nearly as much as I should, I have been spending a lot of time thinking about "what it all means".
For me, when I have reflected on my most productive time spent working with any new technology or code base, it boils down to being directly proportionate to the degree to which that technology is open source.
I am so convinced of the effectiveness of open source solutions over closed technologies that I consciously seek out opportunities to introduce open source into my work as an end to itself. Switching to Linux as my main operating system for my personal work, as well as for some of my "day gig" work has also been eye opening.
It is a journey that reached a water mark this year, and has me resolving to give back as much as I have taken over the years.