The Social Glue in Open Source: Incomplete Contracts and Informal Credits

The Social Glue in Open Source: Incomplete Contracts and Informal Credits

Matthias Bärwolff (Technische Universität Berlin, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-774-4.ch008
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Abstract

Open source has, of late been discussed as a most significant institutional disruption to the way software and, indeed, digital content, in general, evolves and dissipates through society. Credits and their due redemption play a vital yet often underrated role in the development and dissemination of open source. While credits in open source development are often of a rather elusive and informal nature (goodwill, reputation, indirect effects), formal credits have their inevitable role, too. On the one hand, less formal kinds of credits than money and the like often provide for a relatively efficient and viable way of accounting for credits in the development of large and complex software and technology projects. On the other hand, at the intersection of developer communities with end users, there is a distinct need for formal money-based interactions, because informal contracts and credit redemption do work well in communities, but less so in anonymous market contexts.

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