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The Success of Open Source

Steven Weber

In Steven Webers 2004 book “The Success of Open Source” he describes the history, the social structure and the economical and political ways of open source.

But most importantly he identifies open source not as something particular to software development, but as a way of organizing and therefore the open source principles have potential to influence the structures of society in general. Weber can be quoted the following on page 224:

“Like many elements of the Internet economy, the media sorrounds open source software with an overblown mix of hype and cynicism. These are short-term distractions from a profound innovation in production processes. (…)

Open Source is not a piece of software, and it is not unique to a group of hackers. Open Source is a way of organizing production, of making things jointly. (…)

The success of open source [think of the widespread of Apache servers, the Firefox browser and omnipotent Linux OS] demonstrates the importance of a fundamentally different solution, built on top of an unconventional understanding of property rights configured around distribution. And open source uses that concept to tap into a broad range of human motivations and emotions, beyond the straightforward calculations of salary for labour. And it relies on a set of organizational structures to coordinate behavior around the problem of managing distributed innovation, which is different from division of labor.

None of these characteristics is entirely new, unique to open source, or confined to the Internet. But together, they are generic ingredients of a way of making things that has potentially broad consequences for economics and politics.”

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