Home assignment Peer Production and Open Source


Hi everyone,

Last weeks topic is about Peer Production and Open Source. First, I’ll give a definition of these terms, then a brief summary of the assigned articles and afther this continue with my two chosen examples; Linux and BSD.

Open Source Software development projects are Internet-based communities of software who voluntarily collaborate to develop software that is available for everyone as a public good (Von Hippel & Von Krogh, 2003). Peer production is a social production model in which a group of individuals cooperate together to contribute information and knowledge. (Benkler & Nissebaum, 2006).

The first article of Dr. Zhang and Dr. Zhu examines the causal relationship between group size and incentives to contribute. The Chinese Wikipedia has been used for this research, because their field data is very valuable regarding the Great Firewall System and provides them with natural experiments regarding the several blocks since the launch in 2002. The results were remarkable: instead of a negative relationship, there was a positive relationship between group size and the contribution levels. The researches attribute the cause to social benefits. Summarizing this, social effects dominate free-riding incentives and play a significant role in motivating contributors (Zhang & Zhu, 2011).

The second article by dr. von Hippel and dr. von Krogh informs us about Open Software Source (OSS). OSS is the middle ground between the private investment and collective action model, and is called the “Private-Collective Innovation Model”. It appeared to offer the best of both worlds. First of all, it eliminates the belief that free revealing of innovations developed with private resources will cause a loss of private profit for the innovator due lack of protection. Secondary, it eliminates the belief the benefits of the contributor and free rider are equal. (Von Hippel & Von Krogh, 2003).

The third article begins with an explanation of Open Source Software. OSS is described as the continued survival of the collective invention model. In this article the term “collective model” is used instead of “the private-collective model of innovation”.   The Open Source differs from the other cases that are discussed, regarding the success in solving the social dilemma. (Osterloh & Rota, 2007).

The last article is an interview with the MySQL chief Marten Mickos, Marten Mickos’ reaction about why programmers contribute to the open source software somewhat differs from the previous readings. He believes that the contributors are as selfish as anybody else and that they are trying to improve their own product or career. (Hyatt, 2008).

The two examples that i chose were the open source operating systems Linux and BSD. The general advantages are that is is free of charge and use, has less viruses and you can make adjustments. The general disadvantages are that there is knowledge required and fewer application due the smaller market share. Furthermore, Linux has a huge varierty of distros choices and bugs are quickly fixed. BSD is easy to install the base system and has jails.

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