Squatting at the digital campfire - researching the open source software community

This paper describes an internet-mediated netnography of the open source software (OSS) community. A brief history of OSS is presented, along with a discussion of the defining characteristics of the phenomenon.

Squatting at the digital campfire – researching the open source software community

John Cromie and Michael EwingMonash University


The open source software (OSS) community is peculiar. As communities go, it is huge – at least 1.9 million people, and probably more than double that number, self-identify as members. It exhibits all the attributes of community (Gusfield 1975; Marshall & Barthel 1994), despite its members being widely geographically dispersed (Hofstede 1980; Lakhani et al.2002) and for the most part never having met. It is highly productive, perhaps producing the majority of all new...

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