The home assignment topic this week is about exploring peer productions and Open Source. I’ll give you a brief summary and my findings about the readings this week and then continue with two examples, Wikipedia and Apache.
The readings for this week focused on peer production and Open Source. Not the easiest subject I found on my part. However the guest lectures last Wednesday did shed a little light on the matter. All four articles had something in common; they question what motivates people to contribute to open source software and peer production platforms and why this way of working has ‘survived’ and not being taken advantage of. From the readings I think we can conclude that the main reasons people contribute to open source software and peer production platforms is due to social benefits, these being benefiting from extended functionality catered to own needs, creating a reputation for oneself, pure enjoyment, or the feeling of giving something back (Hyatt 2008). The reason open source software works even after the emergence of a dominant design is due to the self rewarding benefits which people find great enough to continue contributing. Another reason is the invention of the OSS licenses, “Copyleft,” and the fact that a sufficient number of contributors enforce the rules. This also ensures that software will continue to remain a public good and can thus not be taken advantage of.
As examples I chose Wikipedia, a website that not only I but I am pretty sure a lot of you use really often, and a more challenging example which is Apache, an open source platform which before this week I had never heard of. Wikipedia is probably one of the most well known peer production platforms. Its goal is through collaboration being a free and complete online encyclopedia Wikipedia contains 23 millions articles and over 4 million in the English Wikipedia alone. All of these articles have been written collaboratively with volunteers from all over the world and its currently estimated 100,000 active contributors. However the question a lot of people ask themselves is why do people contribute to Wikipedia? After a lot of research it mainly came down to credit and claim of authorship. Active contributors actually have their own pages on Wikipedia with resumes with all the work they have contributed. This credit is their self-rewarding benefit, which encourages them to contribute.
Apache took a lot more research to figure out what is was all about. Apache is generally recognized as the world’s most popular web server. “Apache server software is use on Web server computers that host Web pages and provide appropriate content as requested by Internet browsers” (Hippel & Krogh 2003, P.211). It differs from Wikipedia greatly in the way that it is technology based and thus has a completely different type of contributing group. Not just everyone van contribute to Apache like Wikipedia since it is a lot less user-friendly and you really have to know what your doing if you want to contribute. This can be seen as a strength and at the same time a weakness since you make it harder for people to contribute, since not everybody knows how Apache works, yet at the same time they can make sure that only specialized people can contribute and they don’t get a lot of nonsense to deal with.
Well I guess that pretty much briefly summarizes the main findings of my assignment! See you all tomorrow!
Sophie de Jong, 341927
Hippel von, E. & Krogh von, G. (2003) Open source software and the “private-collective” innovation Model: Issues for organization Science. Organization science/Vol. 14, No. 2, March-April 2003
Hyatt, J. (2008) The oh-so-practical Magic of Open source Innovation. MIT sloan management review Fall 2008