The Social Model of Open Source
In this episode of The New Stack’s On the Road show at the Open Source Summit in Austin, Julia Ferraioli, open source technical leader at Cisco’s open source programs office, spoke with The New Stack about some alternative ways to define what is and is not “open source.”
When someone says, well, that’s “technically” open source, it’s usually to be snarky about a project that meets the legal criteria to be open source, but doesn’t follow the spirit of open source. Ferraioli doesn’t think that the “classic” open source project, like Kubernetes or Linux, are the only valid models for open source. She gives the sample of a research project — the code might be open sourced specifically so that others can see the code and reproduce the results themselves. However, for the research to remain valid, it can’t accept any contributions.
“It’s no less open source than others,” Ferraioli said about the hypothetical research project. “If you break things down by purpose, it’s not always that you’re trying to build the robust community.” The social model of open source, Ferraioli says, is about understanding the different use cases for open source, as well as providing a framework for determining what appropriate success metrics could be depending on what the project’s motivations are. And if you’re just doing a project with friends for laughs, well, quantifying fun isn’t going to be easy.