Dependencies between modern software projects are common. Jointly, such dependencies form a project network, where changes in one project cause changes to the others belonging to the same project network. This chapter discusses the issues of dependencies, distances, and priorities in open source project networks, from the standpoint of both technological and social networks. Thus, a multidisciplinary approach to the phenomenon of open source software (OSS) development is offered. There is a strong empirical focus maintained, since the aim of the chapter is to analyze OSS network characteristics through an in-depth, qualitative case study of one specifi c open source community: the Open Source Eclipse plug-in project Laika. In our analysis, we will introduce both internal and external networks associated with Laika, together with a discussion of how tightly they are intertwined. We will analyze both the internal and the external networks through the elements of mutuality, interdependence, distance, priorities, different power relations, and investments made in the relationships—elements chosen on the basis of analysis of the network studies literature.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Open Source Project: Undertaking generally involving the development of a piece of open source software.
Open Source Community: Group of individuals who (often voluntarily) work together to develop, test, or modify open source software products.
Properties: Attribute or characteristics of a software package; such attributes often relate to performing a particular function and the degree of success users experience when using that software to perform that function.
Framework: A perspective or context for viewing, observing, and understanding a particular situation or set of events.
External Observer: Member of the research team; this member generally does not participate in the process being studied, but rather assumes the role of an “objective” outsider who is unfamiliar with the nuances of a given process.
Network Studies: Academic review of how connected communities of individuals work together to achieve certain objectives.
System: Software or network of software packages used to perform a variety of tasks.