Community in the 21st century

Eben Moglen (Professor of Law and General Counsel for the Free Software Foundation) delivered an incredibly interesting keynote at the Plone conference.

Eben explained the Plone community why he thinks that managing content is not important, and why managing community is. He believes that community-driven development will become increasingly popular and vastly superior compared to software developed by a single commercial entity. Hence the need for software and infrastructure that allow organizations to build large communities for a certain period of time.

We are moving to a world in which in the 21st century the most important activities that produce, occur not in factories, and not by individual initiative, but in communities, held together by software.

Comments

dgtlmoon (not verified):

I disagree with his dig at Internet Explorer versus free software browsers.

Mozilla has some very serious flaws that have been around since 2002 that would have definately been fixed if it was a Microsoft based product because people would have one target to complain at that would throw resources at the product to get it fixed or people would sue etc etc, especially when it is very serious human-computer issues like not being able to print documents (don't tell me about the paperless office, we're currently using more paper than ever in human history)

https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=154892

While I'm an open source advocate, let's not forget that there are some things that commercial software IS better at because it simply HAS to work. Firefox, for example, receives a million new features from a million monkeys typing code on every release, but some serious issues going back to 2002 are not addressed, meanwhile, IE -- being pretty minimal in feature set, more or less works (well, it works if you're not concerned about web-standards! but standards is exactly what is being talked about in the speech).

Caleb (not verified):

I'm not sure IE is the best example of how 'commercial software works'. Actually, I'd have to say it would be one of the less-good examples. (For something that "works" so well, it's constantly the browser which seems to break sites and require it's own hack.)

That's not to say that commercial software doesn't have a place -- just that IE isn't a good case study.

Lennart Kiil (not verified):

We are moving to a world in which in the 21st century the most important activities that produce, occur not in factories, and not by individual initiative, but in communities, held together by software.

I do not see this happening. Information can never become more important than the substance it is informing us about, that is reality.

Further, communities are constituted by individuals. It is simply mysticism to claim that communities somehow by themselves can do anything. Individual initiative will always be central because it is individuals who actually exist.

A community is a way of coordinating individual action towards some common goal, sure.

You can have synergistic effects also. No doubt.

But let's not get too romantic about this.