Next Previous Contents

1. An Introductory Contradiction

Anyone who watches the busy, tremendously productive world of Internet open-source software for a while is bound to notice an interesting contradiction between what open-source hackers say they believe and the way they actually behave -- between the official ideology of the open-source culture and its actual practice.

Cultures are adaptive machines. The open-source culture is a response to an identifiable set of drives and pressures. As usual, the culture's adaptation to its circumstances manifests both as conscious ideology and as implicit, unconscious or semi-conscious knowledge. And, as is not uncommon, the unconscious adaptations are partly at odds with the conscious ideology.

In this paper, we will dig around the roots of that contradiction, and use it to discover those drives and pressures. We will deduce some interesting things about the hacker culture and its customs. We will conclude by suggesting ways in which the culture's implicit knowledge can be leveraged better.

Labels in square brackets refer to the bibliography/endnotes.

Next Previous Contents