The architecture of participation

Discussions about open source and innovation tend to cluster around two opposing memes. One says that open source can't innovate; the other that only open source can innovate. Both are wrong. Sometimes large, well-funded R&D programs can achieve breakthroughs that lone geniuses can't. And sometimes the reverse is true. Either way, the real innovation of the open source movement is the architecture of participation. It can help turn a good idea -- wherever it came from -- into a best-quality implementation. Software companies that don't choose the open source model have to find other ways to recruit and reward participants. [Full story at] [See also: other open-source-related items]
The term 'open source' presumes that the essence of software is source code, and that participation means hacking it. And that's true. But the emergence of the services model creates modes of participation that don't require access to source. Back in 2000, Rael Dornfest introduced the term open services in order to make that distinction.

Of course, participation needn't involve programming at all. Much of software's value is created by the community that surrounds it. Such communities can flourish, or not, independently of whether source code is open or closed.

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