Paul Duguid: Limits of self–organization – Peer production and “laws of quality”

“Rather, I have used these examples to try, however inadequately, to raise questions about the transferability of Open Source quality assurance to other domains. My underlying argument is that the social processes of Open Source software production may transfer to other fields of peer production, but, with regard to quality, software production remains a special case. As Weber (2004) has argued, Open Source software development itself is not the self–organizing system it is sometimes imagined to be. Not only is it controlled from below by the chip on which code must run, but projects are also organized from above by developers and maintainers whose control and authority is important to the quality of the outcome. Thus, for software, Linus’s Law and Graham’s Law exist with other, significant constraints that do not necessarily obtain elsewhere. If we are to rely on peer production in multiple different spheres of information production, as Benkler (2006) suggests and I hope, we need to look for other ways to assure quality.”

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