(as of Nov 26,2020 19:12:43 UTC – Details)
"Nadia is one of today’s most nuanced thinkers about the depth and potential of online communities, and this book could not have come at a better time." –Devon Zuegel, director of product, communities at GitHub
Open source software in which developers publish code that anyone can use has long served as a bellwether for other online behavior. In the late 1990s, it provided an optimistic model for public collaboration, but in the last 20 years it s shifted to solo operators who write and publish code that’s consumed by millions.
In Working in Public, Nadia Eghbal takes an inside look at modern open source software development, its evolution over the last two decades, and its ramifications for an internet reorienting itself around individual creators. Eghbal, who interviewed hundreds of developers while working to improve their experience at GitHub, argues that modern open source offers us a model through which to understand the challenges faced by online creators. She examines the trajectory of open source projects, including:
— the platform of GitHub, for hosting and development;
— the structures, roles, incentives, and relationships involved;
— the often-overlooked maintenance required of its creators;
— and the costs of production that endure through an application’s lifetime.
Eghbal also scrutinizes the role of platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Twitch, YouTube, and Instagram which reduce infrastructure and distribution costs for creators, but which massively increase the scope of interactions with their audience.
Open source communities are increasingly centered around the work of individual developers rather than teams. Similarly, if creators, rather than discrete communities, are going to become the epicenter of our online social systems, we need to better understand how they work and we can do so by studying what happened to open source.
From the Publisher
From the introduction
Until recently, information was good, and more information was better. If the free exchange of ideas formed the basis of a flourishing society, then we had a moral imperative to connect more people to one another.
The spirit of openness lasted more than 200 years. We championed the value of literacy and education. We built roads, bridges, and highways that brought together previously isolated communities. We careened toward the new millennium, flushed with the global triumph of Western liberal democracy.
Then we hit a snag. Suddenly, there was too much information. Too many notifications made us want to check them less. Too many social interactions made us want to post online less frequently. Too many emails made us not want to answer. Our online public lives became too much to handle, causing many of us to shrink back into our private spheres.
A must-read in open source software communities
“Working in Public is the fantastic follow-up to Roads and Bridges, and shows how Nadia’s scope has widened and thoughts have evolved since the first book. A must-read for anyone interested in open source software communities.”
—Mike McQuaid, engineer at GitHub and Homebrew maintainer
The definitive book on the dynamics of online creative communities
“Nadia writes from a unique perspective at the intersection of open source, economics, and poetry. This is the definitive book on the dynamics of online creative communities.”
—Nat Friedman, CEO of GitHub
An anthropological dive into the stories of real developers
“In the age of information abundance, we’re all maintainers now. Working in Public is an anthropological dive into the stories of real developers, providing us a lens of open source with which to ask new questions. Nadia presents us with a book not focused on just money, licenses, or code but for all of us who make, as creators of all kinds.”
—Henry Zhu, open source maintainer, Babel
About the author
Nadia Eghbal is a writer and researcher who explores how the internet enables individual creators. From 2015 to 2019, she focused on the production of open source software, working independently and at GitHub to improve the open source developer experience. She is the author of Roads and Bridges: The Unseen Labor Behind Our Digital Infrastructure, published by the Ford Foundation, where she argued that open source code is a form of public infrastructure that requires maintenance.
About the publisher
Stripe Press publishes books about economic and technological advancement. Stripe partners with hundreds of thousands of the world’s most innovative businesses—organizations that will shape the world of tomorrow. These businesses are the result of many different inputs. Perhaps the most important ingredient is “ideas.” Stripe Press highlights ideas that we think can be broadly useful. Some books contain entirely new material, some are collections of existing work reimagined, and others are republications of previous works that have remained relevant over time or have renewed relevance today.
Other titles by Stripe Press:
High Growth Handbook by Elad GilThe Dream Machine by M. Mitchell WaldropStubborn Attachments by Tyler CowenThe Revolt of the Public by Martin GurriAn Elegant Puzzle by Will LarsonGet Together by Bailey Richardson, Kevin Huynh, and Kai Elmer SottoThe Making of Prince of Persia by Jordan MechnerThe Art of Doing Science and Engineering by Richard W. Hamming