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

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  217 ratings  ·  33 reviews
An inside look at modern open source software developers--and their applications to, and influence on, our online social world.

"Nadia is one of today's most nuanced thinkers about the depth and potential of online communities, and this book could not have come at a better time." --Devon Zuegel, director of product, communities at GitHub

Open source software--in which develo
Hardcover, 1st Edition, 256 pages
Published July 14th 2020 by Stripe Press
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Jacob Williams
Aug 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
We assume that open source projects need to grow strong contributor communities in order to survive.... But this narrative no longer translates to how many open source projects work today.

This book is packed with interesting quotes, stats, and analysis.

My main takeaway is: most open source projects are reliant on an individual or small group of core contributors. The attention of those individuals is a crucial limited resource that needs to be rationed. Pushing a larger number of people to m
Sep 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In _Persecution and the Art of Writing_, Leo Strauss describes some techniques by which authors conceal heterodox ideas. One pattern he identifies is a book that has a long tedious and orthodox first part, and then suddenly the tone changes and there are a few striking ideas in the middle, at a point where most censors will have stopped reading.

I don't know if it was deliberate, but Eghbal does exactly that. The first half of this book was a rather tiresome taxonomy of projects and ethnography
Steven Lin
Sep 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Speaking as someone who knows little about open source, I found this book both informative and thought-provoking.

Describing the dynamics of the open source community and the varied and complex relationships people have with code (some "consume" code, some write code, some maintain code, some do a little bit of everything), Eghbal captures a set of concepts and metaphors that have broad application outside of their immediate contextual sphere.

At heart, the discussion centers around questions of
James Elliott
Aug 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Software has eaten the world, and open source has been a huge part of that. I’ve been attending interesting talks about some facets of this book for the last few years, but was amazed by how thoroughly and thoughtfully the disparate strands of history, communities, and technology were woven together in this analysis.

I’m squarely in the center of the target audience for a book like this, having managed to build a small community around a set of my own open-source projects, but I think anyone who
Sep 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It's a little hard for me to say just how interesting this will be to folks outside of the world of open source software, but I suspect that if you are interested in markets and economics, public goods vs. common goods, relationships between big online platforms and online creators, etc, you will enjoy this. It is extremely relevant to my day-to-day life and I have seldom seen someone write about what's actually going on in technical communities with such insight.

It's also a really beautiful ph
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
an exceptional book. physically an immensely pleasing object to hold, page through, and possess. intellectually stimulating if you work in open source, or are generally interested in the 'passion economy', trends in internet culture, or behavioral economics. style is semi-academic but also light. accessible to people who don't code. ...more
Nov 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The title of this book suggests that by reading it you will learn about open source development, but in reality by reading it you will gain a much deeper understanding of how communities behave online. Eghbal's detail on the motivations, frustrations, and impact of open source developers offers a window into the factory of public works in the modern era, with implications from academic science to media. I can't recommend this book highly enough. ...more
Oct 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book rekindled my feeling of love for software and programming. Eghbal writes with such care about projects and communities, and I learned a ton from this as a public GitHub peruser but noncontributor.

In terms of actions, my takeaways are that low quality contributions are sometimes worse than none, and maintainer attention (instead of the code itself) is the scarce resource of software production. Super fresh insights with a lot of applications outlined in the book.
Esteban Vargas
Sep 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020-leisure
For technical people: It won't teach you anything new. But the last chapter is totally worth it.

For non-technical people: It will be an awesome read if you want to understand everything about OSS.
Sep 17, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
The few insights could have been summarized in a few minute blog. This book might be useful for someone who knows literally nothing about software, open source, and perhaps technology to get an understanding of the dynamics in that world.
Mitchell Wakefield
Nov 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was an incredibly well researched, well crafted, and enjoyable book to read. As a person coming into this field fairly green, knowing little to nothing about Open Source Software, GitHub, and the ways of working and community building that goes into an open-source project, this book explained things clearly and in great-depth.

I particularly found the authors' approach of using real-world metaphors to explain conceptual frameworks and project building within the space of open-source softwar
Aug 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Nadia Eghbal has done great work conceptualizing how the ecosystem of open source software works, in a way that I think would be readily accessible to a lay audience. If you have a non-technical role among software developers, this book is a great place to understand the risks and rewards of the open source work your company no doubt depends on.

Beyond explaining the dynamics of open source, Eghbal also points to the difficulties of long-term software maintenance and explores possible funding and
Joseph Heck
Aug 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful work I've been waiting years to see, and I'm thrilled it's here!

Nadia distills years of the open source movement, overlapping with the growth of social media, into readily understandable terms and highlights not only successes, but failures. In doing so, she makes a path forward achievable for both those wanting to help produce, and who want to consume, these kinds of abundant services without a tragedy of the commons kind of outcome. Well founded insights are wrapped into some thought
Mark Mulvey
Aug 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Software doesn't die, because someone out there—someone its developers may not even be aware of—will continue to use it. The author Neal Stephenson once described Unix as ‘not so much a product as it is a painstakingly compiled oral history of the hacker subculture. It is our Gilgamesh epic... Unix is known, loved, and understood by so many hackers that it can be re-created from scratch whenever someone needs it.’

Code is not a product to be bought and sold so much as a living form of knowledge
Nov 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A profoundly well written and researched book on Open Source Software Development

Nadia Eghbal has done the open source community a profound service in writing this book. It is marvelous. The book covers both the social, economic and unseen costs of developing open source software. It gives the reader an appreciation for the subtleties of the process, and articulates the impact of the approach upon both the contributor and consumer of open source code projects.

The cited references add weight by e
jasmine sun
Dec 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sociology, technology
this book provides a summary of the social and economic characteristics of open-source communities + lots of interesting frameworks for describing those dynamics.

eghbal is a very clear writer and assumes no prior knowledge, which is both very helpful and can make parts a bit dry if you're already familiar with the topics -- i'd imagine that everyone will end up skimming some parts. this book is also quite specific to github culture, so i'd make sure you're excited about that before reading (some
Oct 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Nadia does a great job of explaining how open source works and the challenges it's facing today in a very accessible manner. (Disclaimer: I'm quoted in the book multiple times, got a free copy of the book, and have spoken to Nadia directly on the topic of open source for her "Roads and Bridges" white paper.) ...more
Aug 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Open door on open source

An interesting look into the sides of open source most people don't tend get involved with. If you have any interest in what happens behind the curtain then this is the book for you.
Mike Zornek
Aug 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I liked it a lot. A good review as to how open source works, what is working well (and what is not) and what motivates people.

I hope to take some of the wisdom and apply it to my own upcoming open source efforts.
Oct 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook, 2020
This book goes in-depth into the problems open source faces today. It raised a lot of interesting questions, but unfortunately has to leave a lot of them unanswered, because there really aren't any answers for them. I would have loved a more compelling conclusion! ...more
Dec 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting, timely book. I would recommend it for anyone who works with or in open source software communities. I only knocked one star off because the concluding chapter is incoherent and doesn't really relate to the rest of the chapters. ...more
Aug 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An interesting economic analysis of open source
Sep 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Sep 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A sorely needed analysis of what the opensource production model looks like today.
Ismail Mayat
Sep 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a must read for anyone involved in opensource.

The author has researched extensively and this shows in the many insights found in the book.
Oct 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Nov 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting book on the workings of open source. A bit dry sometimes, but interesting none the less.
Dec 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great book on the current state of open source.
Sam Ritchie
Aug 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a good reference for someone in the software world but with no open source experience looking to get up to speed. If you make open source, you’ll find that this clarifies thoughts you’ve had, and maybe gives you ideas for how to restructure the way you spend your attention budget.
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