Home Assignment: Peer production and open source

Dear Classmates,

My home assignment explores the topic ‘’peer production and open source’’. I will give you a short summary of the findings in my home assignment and a comparison of Linux and YouTube.

The articles for this week were about peer production and open source and the main questions that came forward from the articles is: Why do people contribute to open source software and peer production without getting a real compensation and what is the reason why developers do not take advantage of the public codes? After reading the articles and searching the web the answers came forward.

The reason why peer production and open source software can exist is because people voluntarily contribute to these programs. Developers who have a high level of expertise about programming computer codes are able to contribute to open source software. The main reasons why they do this are to learn something about programming, enjoyment, establishing a reputation and to make a better software program for themselves. This reputation in the programming community can be the first step towards a career at a big software company. These developers can adjust the public codes of open source software and are trying to make them better. They put their knowledge in the codes (Osterhol and Rota, 2007). Peer production works in a similar way. But peer production does not need the expertise that is required for open source software. Everyone in the world with an internet connection can easily access and share knowledge on the peer production programs. Peer production is easier to understand than open source software, and this is one of the reasons why peer productions has more users on average. The reasons why people contribute to peer production software are almost similar to the reasons why people contribute to open source software. A reason why people don’t take advantage of the public codes is the legal concept ‘copyleft ‘, or the informal rules from the open source communities (Zhang and Zhu, 2011).

As examples I chose YouTube and Linux. YouTube is a peer production platform where people share videos. It has a huge amount of users who watch more than four billion videos every day. People contribute to this platform, because they enjoy making the videos and sharing it with others and to build a reputation. Some people became very famous because of YouTube. Users are watching videos on YouTube because they don’t want commercials and see something immediately that they like (http://www.jeffbullas.com…, 2012). Linux on the other hand is an open source software. It is an operating system for computers which source code is released for the public. Developers from all around the world can adjust the code or make new tools for it. It is popular among developers, because you can adjust the operating system you use to your wishes. Linux also tends to be faster and more secure than other operating systems (http://smallbusiness.chron.com…., 2012). As you compare YouTube and Linux you can see that YouTube has a lot more users and is easier to use. Linux is hard to understand. Linux is more customizable than YouTube. You can earn money directly from YouTube when your videos are very popular and you can earn money indirectly from Linux with offering service as a third party. I think YouTube will do better in the future than Linux because of these reasons.

I hope you understand a lot more about peer production and open source software after this week.

See you in class on Friday,

Tim Ellens


Osterloh, M., and Rota, S. (2007) Open source software development – Just another case of collective invention. Research Policy 26 157-171

Zhang, M. and Zhu, F. (2011) Group size and incentives to contribute: A natural experiment at Chinese Wikipedia. American Economic Review 101(4) 1601-1615

http://www.jeffbullas.com/2012/05/23/35-mind-numbing-youtube-facts-figures-and-statistics-infographic/, 2012

http://smallbusiness.chron.com/strengths-weaknesses-linuxbased-systems-26633.html, 2012


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