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Collaboration without consensus - Free and Open Source Software as boundary object
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Geography, Media and Communication.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1456-0231
2017 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Free and Open Source software (FOSS) has become a popular research object amongst scholars from various disciplines. Within the last decade studies from the humanities critically assessed the social, political, economic and cultural significance of non-proprietary software. By doing so, these studies (just to name a few: Coleman, 2013; Kelty, 2008; Weber, 2004) have a perspective in common that highlights the debates and differences among its participants.

This contribution adds to the growing body of these critical software studies by focusing on the divergences in FOSS, employing the concept of a boundary object (Star & Griesemer, 1989). Interviews conducted at FOSDEM (Free and Open Source software developer meeting) show that the non-consensual setup of FOSS lets people from different communities of practice use it as a common point of reference (Chrisman, 1999) while allowing different standpoints, opinions, motivations, and values. These differences can be categorised on three levels: The disagreements between advocates of Free and Open Sources software is nothing new. However, the humanities’ focus on peer production, and personae such as the geek, the hacker and the activist have overshadowed that FOSS pairs amateurs and professionals. The growing professionalising of FOSS brings forward the important contributions by entrepreneurs, lawyers, community managers, and – not least - for-profit software companies. Lastly, this analysis concerns the coordination of particular non-proprietary software development projects, exemplifying that participants are granted to leave collaborative projects by copying (forking) the source code, disentangling from a project in order to use the same code as the basis of a new project. By considering these three levels, this paper asks whether FOSS can be conceived as cooperative work that links communities together in collective activities and identities or an alternative set of terms needs to be adapted to capture FOSS and its potential social consequences.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
Keyword [en]
science and technology studies, free software, open source software, collaboration, media production, cooperation, communities, collectives
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified Other Humanities not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-64733OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-64733DiVA: diva2:1150726
Conference
Third Nordic Science and Technology Studies Conference, Gothenburg
Available from: 2017-10-19 Created: 2017-10-19 Last updated: 2017-10-19

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
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Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
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Output format
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