Mirko Boehm

62 points
User profile image.

General manager with substantial software engineering experience and leadership skills. Focuses on management of software teams and companies. Experienced executive and software architecture specialist. Interested in Free Software on a political and technical level, political economics and organizational theory and practice.

Authored Content

Is open source democratic?

In his recent post, Glyn Moody asks an important question: "Can open source be democratic?" He describes how free software emerged as a distributed, bottom-up system of…

Authored Comments

It is interesting to hear about the similarities between tribal leadership and open source communities. I was not aware of that.
To extend on that, communities of different sizes and maturity may show more or less such similarities. What you described matches the rather informal, grass roots open source efforts. There are also larger communities with more formalities and elected positions, and there are also open source projects run by companies where leadership is structurally well-defined.
This thought is related to the question of inclusion - in a tribal structure as you described, an individual can remain part of the community even though it disagrees with the leadership of it. In a more formal setting, adhering to central decisions is paramount to being eligible for citizenship.

Great input, thanks!

The point I was trying to make is that not all open source communities are created equal. Some show similarities to republics, where governance is a public matter, as you say. Others are not, where the product is open source, but the community governance is tightly controlled and not open to outsiders. So "it depends" :-)