September 22, 2005

Debian researchers

Category: Debian,Research — @ 2:14 pm

One of the interesting elements about software projects like debian is that developers often take the step of researching the sociological and organizational dynamics of their project. This paper, in particular, titled Evolution of Volunteer Participation in Libre Software Projects, examines how the nature of volunterism as well as length of committment in Debian affects the technical upkeep the project. It has a lot of great quantitative data and some good insight on the nature of volunteer committment on Debian.

I know one of the paper’s authors, Martin Michlmayr , is a Debian developer and as his website states, his doctoral work is in quality management in free software projects. Then there is Martin Krafft also a PhD student who recently (actually after a Debian developer con) decided to switch his doctoral topic to study, in the hopes of improving, the workflow of Debian devlopment. He has already published a book on Debian and imagine his research, soon to begin, will produce more material for more books and more articles.

So, again, what is notable about many of these projects is precisely the self-reflexive interest in them as a site of academic study and managed improvement. This is not unlike the recursivity that Chris Kelty discusses in his Recursive Publics piece, although instead of tweaking technolgy, they are tweaking social organization and technological methodologies in order to better tweak the tech.

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