Open source communities are one of the most successful-- and least appreciated--examples of high-performance collaboration and community building on the Internet today. Open source communities began as loosely organized, ad-hoc communities of contributors from all over the world who shared an interest in meeting a common need. However, the organization of these communities has proven to be very flexible and capable of carrying out all kind of developments, ranging from minor projects to huge programs such as Apache (Höhn, & Herr, 2004; Mockus, Fielding, & Herbsleb, 2005).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Co-Evolution: This term describes how tools and their users symbiotically influence each other’s evolution. Used in the community context to describe how users and other community roles (and products) influence each other’s evolution.
Collaborative Development Environment: A virtual space wherein all the stakeholders of a project, even if separated by time or distance, may negotiate, communicate, coordinate, brainstorm, discuss, share knowledge, and liaise to carry out some task, most often to create an executable deliverable and its supporting artifacts, holistically integrating multiple collaborative tools and resources.
Hacker: In the computing community, a skilled, experienced or even a wizard software developer. Also a person who creates and modifies computer software or hardware. Used in the media and popularly to mean computer and network security expert, this term has nothing to do with the hackers that contribute to the OSCs.
Meritocracy: A system of government based on rule by ability (merit) rather than by wealth, race, or other determinants of social position. Meritocratic governments, organizations, and communities stress talent, formal education, and competence, rather than existing differences such as social class, ethnicity, or sex.
Open Source: Describes practices in production and development that promote access to the end product’s sources and allow for the concurrent use of different agendas and approaches in production. Some consider it as a philosophy, and others consider it as a pragmatic methodology. Open source has come to represent much more than software whose source code may be freely modified and redistributed with few restrictions imposed by the terms of its distribution license. Information, documentation, and other “sources” generally related to innovation and knowledge build and share processes, tend to fall under the open source umbrella.
Open Source Community: A loosely organized, ad-hoc community of contributors from all over the world who share an interest in meeting a common need, ranging from minor projects to huge developments, and carry it out using a high-performance collaborative development environment, allowing the organizational scheme and processes to emerge over time. The concept represents one of the most successful examples of high-performance collaboration and community building on the Internet.
Community: An amalgamation of people with related interests. Intent, belief, resources, preferences, needs, goals, and a multitude of other conditions may be present and common, affecting the degree of adhesion within the group. Communities may meet to share information, to participate in shared projects, or to complete group tasks. What most characterizes a community is the pursuit of a common productive goal and sharing interaction in many ways.