Extra Random Thoughts on Weber’s Open Source ch3

So, Weber has these 8 Principles…

  1. Make it interesting and make sure it happens
  2. Scratch an itch
  3. Minimize how many times you have to reinvent the wheel
  4. Solve problems through parallel work processes whenever possible
  5. Leverage the law of large numbers
  6. Document what you do
  7. Release early and often
  8. Talk a lot

And opensource.org has these 5 Pillars…

  1. Open exchange
  2. Participation
  3. Rapid Prototyping
  4. Meritocracy
  5. Community

Weber’s principles are functional. They deal with the “how” of FOSS.  In contrast, the pillars are descriptive and explain the “what.”  As such, the principles can be seen as demonstrations of the pillars.

  • Principle 1 demonstrates pillars 1 and 5, as communities form around making cool stuff and talking about it.
  • Principle 2 deals with pillars 2 and 5, as people come together naturally to solve problems that they encounter themselves.
  • Principle 3 is best viewed through the lens of pillar 5, as one should rely on the community’s efforts to avoid doing that which has been done already.
  • Principle 4 is pillar 3 in motion, but draws on the advantage of pillar 2. With enough prototypes and branches, progress is made in an evolutionary way.
  • Principle 5 to me is purely an expression of pillar 2. The law of large numbers is basically used here to show that when a lot of people work on a project, more bugs are found and more progress is made. Pretty simple.
  • Principle 6 may be hard to relate to the pillars for some, but I’ve found it to be closely related to pillar 5. Documentation is like the constitution of an open-source project. The understanding granted by it is a unifying factor in its community.
  • Principle 7 is the pure form of pillar 3 and is a strange phenomenon, akin to a carefully moderated, intelligently designed evolutionary process. Basically, it’s iterative development. Fail a lot, then profit.
  • Principle 8 is the fuel for the community (pillar 5). Communication is the lifeblood of a community (hence the same root). If developers didn’t talk, nobody would be able to get a feel for what is going on or what needs to be done.

Steven Weber drew heavily upon the analysis of Eric Raymond, specifically his essay “The Cathedral and the Bazaar” which is closely related to Fred Brooks’s “Conceptual Integrity.”


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