The Protestant Ethic Strikes Back: Open Source Developers and the Ethic of Capitalism

Teemu Mikkonen, Tere Vaden, , Niklas Vainio, CC BY, Feb 15, 2007
Commentary by Stephen Downes

There seems to be some regression away from the original objectives of open source software, at least, if we are to judge by this month's First Monday. In one article, Tragedy of the FOSS commons? , the tragedy is an under-production or maintenance problem and that "institutional designs - norms, formal rules and governance structures - often help to overcome commons tragedies." Scott Leslie calls this article a "gem" but I am less enthused. In the other, the authors assert that "old and familiar modes of organization based on waged labor are increasingly a part of developer communities." Both papers highlight the role companies are playing in the development of open source software. The implication, it seems to me, is that the companies are using the developers, and therefore, changing the FLOSS culture. But I wonder whether the reverse isn't true, that it's the developers who are using the companies.
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