Open source developmentΒΆ

Tags: work

Ted Leung talks about commons based peer production, by which he means open source. I've seen that phrase a few times now and I'm starting to like it. Here's my take on the phrase.

Commons based
The commons is for instance the common grazing ground for a village. In the village scenario, overgrazing is a problem. When there are no checks on behaviour, short term optimalisation destroys the common grazing ground for sure due to overgrazing.

In open source development it is more like an inverted commons. The more the common ground is used, the more useful it becomes. Software doesn't degrade by use! And everyone working constructively with it can add to the commons.

Peer production
The software is produced by peers. Not everybody can change everything, but it normally doesn't matter which company you work for, what your hair color is or on which planet you live. You've got individual contributors. You also 've got academic-like "peer review", in which you can look over the code or the documentation of your peers and point out errors, omissions or possible additions. If you do this in a helpful-enough manner, you stand a good chance of having your error corrected or suggestion adopted.

Personally, I haven't submitted many fixes but I've seen a very good acceptation ratio. Which is very gratifying, but not in the "I got my way"-kind of way you'd expect: for me it's much more the gratification of being able to contribute a bit back to the commons, to help build it. Likewise helping out on a mailinglist (and getting some of your own questions answered in the proces!). Or adding some (de)capitalisation functions to an XSLT extension library because you need it in there and the owner is happy to add them to the core: everybody happy.

Unrelated: I've been too busy using LaTeX lately, I'm starting to type \textit{.....} when I want to put something in italics... :-)

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My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.

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