Monday, December 6, 2004

Open Source

I'm looking for comment here about how Open Source works and why.


  1. Wow! What a huge topic. One of the best written pieces on this is "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" by Eric Raymond (

    I believe that there are two primary reasons that Open Source works: pride and the opportunity to make a difference. I speak not only from experience as a recipient of this benefit, but also as an early contributor.

    Pride: There come moments when I realize that there's something that I can do that few other people can do. I can create a beautiful user interface, an elegant bit of code, or I can contribute to an architecture in some significant way. I don't use "pride" in the sinful sense, but in the sense of "pride of competence" or "pride of creativity" or "I'm proud that I can do this and contribute". There's a powerful communal pride in the Open Source community that is also a pride of cooperation.

    And let's not forget that there's a certain joy in being able to do something *because I want to, because I can, and not for money*.

    Opportunity to make a difference: in this particular community (Innovation Commons), I think that there are more people than in the average population who have the opportunity to make a difference. But imagine yourself an average programmer in some little, out of the way place, working on your small part of a large project for a decent salary. The odds are that you will never experience the pleasure of knowing that your bit of work has made a difference to someone - to anyone.

    In the Open Source community, you know that what you've done has made a difference, and frequently to many thousands, tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people. You can point to one thing and say "I did that!"

    The sense of community and contribution, of collaboration and communication, is powerful.

  2. I found a great resource to answer my own question: Wide Open: Open Source Methods and their Future Potential. They list the following principles:

    Principles of Open Source Projects

    1. Transparency
    2. Vetting of participants only after they've gotten involved
    3. Low cost and ease of engagement
    4. A legal structure and enforcement mechanism
    5. Leadership
    6. Common standards
    7. Peer feedback loops
    8. A shared conception of goals
    9. Incrementalist - small players can still make useful contributions
    10. Powerful non-monetary incentives

    You can get a copy of the book at

    I'll write a longer review later. I just wanted to get his out to you as soon as I could.