Introduction: FLOSS at Large



Lin Y (2004) Introduction: FLOSS at Large. First Monday, 9 (11).;

The free/libre open source software (FLOSS) has emerged as an important phenomenon in the ICT sector as well as in the wider public domain. A new research strand has attracted scholars and practitioners to analyse the development of FLOSS from many perspectives. While the FLOSS community continues to grow, diverse actors (e.g.,developers, firms, end–users, organisations, governments, etc., just to name a few) are brought into play. Meanwhile, a variety of apparatuses and inscriptions (e.g.,technical ones such as software and hardware tools, socio–economical ones such as licences, educational ones such as certificates, and socio–cultural ones such as on/off–line discussion forums) are developed and employed to maintain the practice. The complex composition of the FLOSS community entails a heterogeneous field where innovation is socio–technically constructed. Practices and norms in the FLOSS community are interpreted differently in support of individual demands (social, economic, political, technical) of the actors. Such a heterogeneous world resembles an ecological system that contains diversity while resources (information, knowledge and tools) are commonly shared amongst actors. While the open source pattern has been said to be a means through which black–boxed software innovation can be opened up and users empowered, it would be worth studying how communication between actors is undertaken to bridge their differences. Indeed, good communications can engage actors with different backgrounds in the community, encourage cooperation with each other and enhance mutual trust. However, debates and conflicts taking place in the development of FLOSS will also shape its future innovation. It would be interesting to study these various views in the community, see how they are conveyed and negotiated, and then analyse the implications of FLOSS innovation in the broader sense.

First Monday: Volume 9, Issue 11

Publication date01/11/2004
Date accepted by journal01/10/2004
PublisherUniversity of Illinois at Chicago Library
Publisher URL…e/view/1184/1104