Working in Public: The Making and Maintenance of Open Source Software

October 30, 2020
Working in Public: The Making and Maintenance of Open Source Software

EPUB created from retail kindleAn inside look at modern open source softwaredevelopers--and their applications' influence on our online socialworld."Nadia is one of today's most nuanced thinkers about the depthand potential of online communities, and this book could not havecome at a better time." --Devon Zuegel, director of product,communities at GitHubOpen source software--in which developers publish code thatanyone can use--has long served as a bellwether for other onlinebehavior. In the late 1990s, it provided an optimistic model forpublic collaboration, but in the last 20 years it's shifted to solooperators who write and publish code that's consumed bymillions.In Working in Public, Nadia Eghbal takes an inside lookinto modern open source software development and its evolution inthe last two decades--and its ramifications for an internetreorienting itself around individual creators. Eghbal whointerviewed hundreds of developers while working to improve theirexperience at GitHub--argues that modern open source offers us amodel through which to understand the challenges faced by onlinecreators. She examines GitHub as a platform; how open sourceprojects are structured; the projects' roles, incentives, andrelationships--and their heretofore unexplored maintenance, via thework that software requires of its creators and the costs ofproduction that must be maintained. Eghbal scrutinizes the role ofplatforms--like Twitter, Facebook, Twitch, YouTube, andInstagram--which reduce infrastructure and distribution costs forcreators, but which massively increase the scope of interactionswith their audience.Open source communities are increasingly centered around thework of individual developers rather than teams. Similarly, ifcreators, rather than discrete communities, are going to become theepicenter of our online social systems, we need to betterunderstand how they work--and we can do so by studying whathappened to open source.Nadia Eghbal is a writer and researcher whoexplores how the internet enables individual creators. From 2015 to2019, she focused on the production of open source software,working independently and at GitHub to improve the open sourcedeveloper experience. She is the author of Roads and Bridges:The Unseen Labor Behind Our Digital Infrastructure, publishedby the Ford Foundation, where she argued that open source code is aform of public infrastructure that requires maintenance.