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Kit Plummer
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The Pragmatic Power of Community in Open Source

The debate as to the relativity of “Community” of Open Source is a continuum, ad nauseum. From early ‘06 this article addresses many of intricacies – especially the relationship(s) between open-source and proprietary systems. More recently the “issues” associated with freeloading have raised another level of questions. Freeloading is nothing new. We all do it is some way or another. Matt Asay, confirms "John Mark Walker’s beliefs" on community and Zen":http://news.cnet.com/8301-13505_3-10268160-16.html?tag=mncol;title.

But, do you need a practical example of why community is so very necessary? First, one very keen data point here: inevitably almost ALL software will have some relationship to Open Source, but most likely a direct one, via an embedded dependency. Open Source is about abstractions and reuse, a sort of pyramind compounding. Open Source projects innovate by freely aggregating other’s innovation. This isn’t a linear progression. It is very similar to the power of social networking and crowdsourcing if not a direct relationship itself (GitHub knows this). So, here’s the revelation. There’s a inherent NEED for community…and the Grails crew have realized that it is virtually impossible to manage the embedded stream of dependencies on one side of the fence – as Marc Palmer very well points out – and asks for help. If there’s one way to “seduce” a community – it is to ask for help. The ’’’Real Power’’’ of the OSS community is how we respond to these pleas.


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