- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Harvard University Press (7 May 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0674012925
- ISBN-13: 978-0674012929
- Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3.2 x 24.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
1,854,920 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #1387 in Books > Computers & Internet > Computer Science > Programming > Introduction to Programming
- #1787 in Books > Business, Finance & Law > Management > Human Resources > Professional Development
- #3276 in Books > Computers & Internet > Computer Science > Programming > Software Design, Testing & Engineering > Functional Programming
The Success of Open Source Hardcover – 7 May 2004
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'Should make this extraordinary phenomenon understandable to a much wider audience.' -- London Review of Books, 18 August 2005
Much of the innovative programming that powers the Internet, creates operating systems, and produces software is the result of "open source" code, that is, code that is freely distributed - as opposed to being kept secret - by those who write it. Leaving source code open has generated some of the most sophisticated developments in computer technology, including, most notably, Linux and Apache, which pose a significant challenge to Microsoft in the marketplace. As Steven Weber discusses, open source's success in a highly competitive industry has subverted many assumptions about how businesses are run, and how intellectual products are created and protected. Traditionally, intellectual property law has allowed companies to control knowledge and has guarded the rights of the innovator, at the expense of industry-wide co-operation. In turn, engineers of new software code are richly rewarded; but, as Weber shows, in spite of the conventional wisdom that innovation is driven by the promise of individual and corporate wealth, ensuring the free distribution of code among computer programmers can empower a more effective process for building intellectual products.In the case of open source, independent programmers - sometimes hundreds or thousands of them - make unpaid contributions to software that develops organically, through trial and error. Weber argues that the success of open source is not a freakish exception to economic principles. The open source community is guided by standards, rules, decisionmaking procedures, and sanctioning mechanisms. Weber explains the political and economic dynamics of this mysterious but important market development.
Top customer reviews
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The book looks at open source culture rather than the programming itself. You don't need to be a programmer to understand or enjoy this, and in fact, open source has implications beyond programming anyway.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Weber is a terrific writer. This is one of the best-organized, concisely written and cleanly reasoned books I have ever read. That said, this is not light reading; you will need to put your thinking cap on and think big thoughts with the author pretty frequently. This is exactly what I was looking for. There's plenty of shallow analysis out there concerning Open Source. What Weber provides is the cross-discipline perspective of a professional scholar who has studied Open Source carefully. I believe this book will prove useful to future historians when they want to understand the roots of Open Source, which, as Weber presents, could be very profound to our global economy and culture over decades to come.
The first chapter cleanly outlines the goals and big questions of the book. It also provides a primer on some of the main themes and terms such as the nature of property, what "free" means, current progress/status of Open Source etc. This brief chapter helps those who are very new to Open Source and sketches the trajectory of the rest of the book; just what you expect from a professional scholar.
Chapters Two through Four are about 30% of the book and chronicle the historic roots of Open Source (primarily the Unix community) through the past few decades of computing. The history comes right up to the present to show how what started as fits and spurts for decades, has now become the wildly successful realization of an unlikely vision; a phenomena in modern technological accomplishments. These chapters help the reader grasp the true vision of Open Source.
Chapter Five gathers hard data from surveys and empirical data from the online transcripts of Open Source projects to dissect the individual motivations of Open Source developers. There is very little guesswork here. Some of the myths about why the developers do what they do are dismantled and replaced with more intelligent information about their intricate motivations. Although I am not an Open Source developer, I have been a software professional for twenty years and worked with hundreds of other developers. Weber's sketch of the Open Source developer is very believable and resonates with many individual developers I have known.
Chapter Six studies the way the Open Source community, especially developers, organize themselves in various communities such as Linux, Apache and others. There are some good insights here for commercial teams to learn from.
Chapter Seven unfolds many legal implications around property rights, business models and specific case studies such as Red Hat, Debian and many others. This is great information and a unique contribution that is hard to find summarized as it is here.
Chapter Eight explores the long term potential for profound impact Open Source may have globally, politically and economically. There is also interesting analysis concerning how hierarchical organizations interface with networked (web) organizations. Finally, some suggestions for other fields of study that may copy the Open Source model are explored.
I do not think you will find a more helpful analysis for the non-technical aspects of Open Source. If I could give this book seven stars, I would.
The first book is one of the very best recapitulations of the open source movement and all of its predecessors. The second book is about how something that just seemingly shouldn't work, works so well, and how those principles behind its working extend to more than just the open source movement.
The author, a university professor, draws liberally from the traditions of historians, economists, sociologists, and psychologists to paint a compelling picture of why the forces behind open source are not going to go away any time soon. Read in best companion with The Cathedral and the Bazaar, which IS a bit of a wistful paean to Linux, it illuminates its subject wonderfully.