There Is No Open Source Community
Subject:   Not so fast :@)
Date:   2006-01-16 11:41:12
From:   john.mark
Response to: Simplistic argument

I think this is something about which reasonable minds can disagree. You are not the only person to argue that I'm forgetting the creativity of users and developers involved in open source production. Far from it. The individuals involved certainly did some incredible work, but that work does not exist in a vacuum, and the internet allows that work to morph in ways that the original author could never have foreseen or intended. I view this in much the same way that I view neo-libertarians who have a love affair with the self-made man (or woman). Just as I don't believe in the self-made man, I also don't believe in the supremacy of the individual open source author. Without internet proliferation, open source is not nearly as successful as today, and I see nothing in your talkback to argue otherwise.

There are many technology communities, some of which gather around open source, some of which don't. I cannot tell you how many times I've heard developers and business people talk in revered tones about this massive, homogenous "open source community". When I ask them who it is, they can't begin to tell me. I would argue that the communities form around certain technologies, and the fact that it's open source just means that it's easier for people to join up. It democratizes the process, just like the internet democratizes the access to said software and communities.

You can disregard web surveys all you want, but the fact is that an overwhelming majority of individuals have responded to these surveys stating that their involvement stems from their interest in the technology instead of some ideological motivation. To the extent that participants enjoy being a part of something so disruptive as open source is difficult to say.

And again, I'm not including the free software movement in this, because that's all about ideology. The technology is just a happy by-product.

In any case, I can see why others think that I'm disregarding the individual contributor far too much, and as I said, this is something about which reasonable minds can disagree.


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