Open collaboration: A look at nine (very) different communities

Register or Login to like
Register or Login to like
A community building a barn

Incredible work comes out of open source communities. But communities far removed from the world of software development often thrive following the same principles.  

Openness. Sharing. Collaboration. Transparency. Meritocracy. A common purpose.

Following are nine stories from nine very different kinds of communities. Yet all follow the open source way, in their own ways.

Neighbors in action

When Raleigh resident Jason Hibbets led his community group in a design thinking session, he was hoping for some new ideas and increased participation to solve local problems. He got that—and more. Opening the floor to neighbors to determine what problems to fix and how to fix them brought together a stronger, more engaged community. »Read the article

A democratic school community

Can children be fully participating members in a democracy? One former Michigan “free school” teacher says yes. kiran nigam shares her experiences working within a child-centered community. You’ll be surprised at the similarities to an open source software community. »Read the article

Fedora and beyond

Former Fedora Project Leader Paul Frields discusses working in the open source community, pointing out how and where he thinks the same principles could be used in other communities and organizations. »Read the article

A social publishing strategy

Pratham Books explains how using Creative Commons licenses for their books yielded a user community that gladly contributes innovations like related iPad apps and audio books. »Read the article

Open source politics

Government and political buff Art Seavey traces the Tea Party movement and finds that open source communities take a surprising number of different forms. »Read the article


TED takes a brand gamble and opens up some conference-planning to its community. The result? TEDx, a growing group of locally-inspired and locally-operated conferences in the spirit of the original TED. »Read the article

Universities and open textbook writers

What happens when open source coders team up with a university professor to debut their textbook in a classroom? They discover that “release early, release often” can mean different things in different communities. »Read the article

Communities that spawn communities

Ampache is both an open source software project and the seed for a new, music-loving community. See how one community gave birth to another. »Read the article

Outreach communities

How do you create a community that’s easy to join? Several open source developers take to a college classroom and discover that the path to contributing to an open source project is bumpier for young coders than they had anticipated. »Read the article

In what community have you seen the open source way in action?

Rebecca Fernandez is a Principal Program Manager at Red Hat, leading projects to help the company scale its open culture. She's an Open Organization Ambassador, contributed to The Open Organization book, and maintains the Open Decision Framework. She is interested in the intersection of open source principles and practices, and how they can transform organizations for the better.


I think The HeliOS Project deserves some mention. They have supplied over 1200 Linux-powered computers to disadvantaged Austin kids over the past five years. These guys do great work.

Thanks for highlighting our neighborhood efforts. We recently got city council to support some of our efforts earlier this month on one of the projects discussed in the design thinking session.


Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.