Review: Niels C. Taubert (2006). Produktive Anarchie? Netzwerke freier Softwareentwicklung [Productive Anarchy? Networks of Open Source Software Development]

Matthias Groß


Open source software is software designed to allow anyone to use and make changes in the software. This practice often renders the product superior to more centralized models such as those used in commercial software companies. How is such a phenomenon possible in a time where nothing seems to be acquirable save by purchase? Niels C. TAUBERT's book Productive Anarchy? Networks of Open Source Software Development aims at a sociological understanding of the prerequisites and conditions for the success of open source software. One of the conclusions of TAUBERT's book is that the process of open software development needs to be understood as adaptive and experimental. A continuous feedback between the context of production and the context of application is the basis for robust and successful software production. One of the surprising results of the book is that the most important requirement for this feedback process is a set of norms—neutrality, communism, disinterestedness, and universalism—norms that Robert MERTON associated with academic science in the 1940s. If TAUBERT is right that these norms are to be found outside the world of institutional science in open source software development projects today, then his case study can be seen as an indicator for a new form of knowledge production in the 21st century, where the social relevance and responsibility of a research process are keys to successful innovation. With this book, which deserves a wide readership, TAUBERT makes an important contribution to our understanding of the successful organization of technology development.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0701109


open source software; science studies; innovation; scientific ethos

Copyright (c) 2007 Matthias Groß

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