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

  • Matthias Groß Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung Leipzig
Keywords: open source software, science studies, innovation, scientific ethos


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


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Author Biography

Matthias Groß, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung Leipzig
Matthias GROß (Jg. 1969) arbeitet als Soziologe am Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung, UFZ in Leipzig. Er studierte Soziologie in Bielefeld und für ein Jahr als "graduate student" an der amerikanischen Westküste (Arcata, Kalifornien). Im Jahre 2000 war er DAAD-Doctoral Fellow an der University of Wisconsin, Madison (USA) und promovierte 2001 in Soziologie an der Universität Bielefeld. Zu seinen Arbeitsschwerpunkten gehören die Umweltsoziologie, Geschichte der Soziologie, Wissenschafts- und Technikforschung, sowie die Gestaltung und Sanierung postindustrieller und kontaminierter Landschaften. Er lehrte an den Universitäten Karlsruhe (TU), Leipzig und Bielefeld, sowie der Loyola University Chicago (USA). Zu seinen Büchern gehören Inventing Nature: Ecological Restoration by Public Experiments (2003), Realexperimente: Ökologische Gestaltungsprozesse in der Wissensgesellschaft (2005, zus. mit Wolfgang KROHN und Holger HOFFMANN-RIEM), sowie Natur (2006). Er ist Gründer und Mitherausgeber der Zeitschrift Nature and Culture.
How to Cite
Groß, M. (2007). Review: Niels C. Taubert (2006). Produktive Anarchie? Netzwerke freier Softwareentwicklung [Productive Anarchy? Networks of Open Source Software Development]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 8(1).