Free Software trajectories: from organized publics to formal social enterprises? (WSL 2012)

Morgan Currie (UCLA)
Christopher Kelty (UCLA)
Luis Felipe Rosado Murillo (UCLA)

By looking at the history of long-lasting and successful Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) projects, one can observe a common trajectory: they tend to start with a few core developers, then increase in code base size, complexity, and number of contributors and users, finally creating the necessity of a formal organization to help coordinate the development efforts, secure funding, manage donations, seek partnerships, manage hosting infrastructure, and struggle to protect its members from patent and copyright disputes. The question we discuss in this paper is "what are the characteristics of participation in those projects that do not describe the common trajectory – which is to start from a small community to subsequently constitute formal social enterprises (non-profit organizations or companies)?"

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