Source

shlomi-fish-homepage / t2 / homesteading / homesteading.xml

Full commit
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
87
88
89
90
91
92
93
94
95
96
97
98
99
100
101
102
103
104
105
106
107
108
109
110
111
112
113
114
115
116
117
118
119
120
121
122
123
124
125
126
127
128
129
130
131
132
133
134
135
136
137
138
139
140
141
142
143
144
145
146
147
148
149
150
151
152
153
154
155
156
157
158
159
160
161
162
163
164
165
166
167
168
169
170
171
172
173
174
175
176
177
178
179
180
181
182
183
184
185
186
187
188
189
190
191
192
193
194
195
196
197
198
199
200
201
202
203
204
205
206
207
208
209
210
211
212
213
214
215
216
217
218
219
220
221
222
223
224
225
226
227
228
229
230
231
232
233
234
235
236
237
238
239
240
241
242
243
244
245
246
247
248
249
250
251
252
253
254
255
256
257
258
259
260
261
262
263
264
265
266
267
268
269
270
271
272
273
274
275
276
277
278
279
280
281
282
283
284
285
286
287
288
289
290
291
292
293
294
295
296
297
298
299
300
301
302
303
304
305
306
307
308
309
310
311
312
313
314
315
316
317
318
319
320
321
322
323
324
325
326
327
328
329
330
331
332
333
334
335
336
337
338
339
340
341
342
343
344
345
346
347
348
349
350
351
352
353
354
355
356
357
358
359
360
361
362
363
364
365
366
367
368
369
370
371
372
373
374
375
376
377
378
379
380
381
382
383
384
385
386
387
388
389
390
391
392
393
394
395
396
397
398
399
400
401
402
403
404
405
406
407
408
409
410
411
412
413
414
415
416
417
418
419
420
421
422
423
424
425
426
427
428
429
430
431
432
433
434
435
436
437
438
439
440
441
442
443
444
445
446
447
448
449
450
451
452
453
454
455
456
457
458
459
460
461
462
463
464
465
466
467
468
469
470
471
472
473
474
475
476
477
478
479
480
481
482
483
484
485
486
487
488
489
490
491
492
493
494
495
496
497
498
499
500
501
502
503
504
505
506
507
508
509
510
511
512
513
514
515
516
517
518
519
520
521
522
523
524
525
526
527
528
529
530
531
532
533
534
535
536
537
538
539
540
541
542
543
544
545
546
547
548
549
550
551
552
553
554
555
556
557
558
559
560
561
562
563
564
565
566
567
568
569
570
571
572
573
574
575
576
577
578
579
580
581
582
583
584
585
586
587
588
589
590
591
592
593
594
595
596
597
598
599
600
601
602
603
604
605
606
607
608
609
610
611
612
613
614
615
616
617
618
619
620
621
622
623
624
625
626
627
628
629
630
631
632
633
634
635
636
637
638
639
640
641
642
643
644
645
646
647
648
649
650
651
652
653
654
655
656
657
658
659
660
661
662
663
664
665
666
667
668
669
670
671
672
673
674
675
676
677
678
679
680
681
682
683
684
685
686
687
688
689
690
691
692
693
694
695
696
697
698
699
700
701
702
703
704
705
706
707
708
709
710
711
712
713
714
715
716
717
718
719
720
721
722
723
724
725
726
727
728
729
730
731
732
733
734
735
736
737
738
739
740
741
742
743
744
745
746
747
748
749
750
751
752
753
754
755
756
757
758
759
760
761
762
763
764
765
766
767
768
769
770
771
772
773
774
775
776
777
778
779
780
781
782
783
784
785
786
787
788
789
790
791
792
793
794
795
796
797
798
799
800
801
802
803
804
805
806
807
808
809
810
811
812
813
814
815
816
817
818
819
820
821
822
823
824
825
826
827
828
829
830
831
832
833
834
835
836
837
838
839
840
841
842
843
844
845
846
847
848
849
850
851
852
853
854
855
856
857
858
859
860
861
862
863
864
865
866
867
868
869
870
871
872
873
874
875
876
877
878
879
880
881
882
883
884
885
886
887
888
889
890
891
892
893
894
895
896
897
898
899
900
901
902
903
904
905
906
907
908
909
910
911
912
913
914
915
916
917
918
919
920
921
922
923
924
925
926
927
928
929
930
931
932
933
934
935
936
937
938
939
940
941
942
943
944
945
946
947
948
949
950
951
952
953
954
955
956
957
958
959
960
961
962
963
964
965
966
967
968
969
970
971
972
973
974
975
976
977
978
979
980
981
982
983
984
985
986
987
988
989
990
991
992
993
994
995
996
997
998
999
1000
1001
1002
1003
1004
1005
1006
1007
1008
1009
1010
1011
1012
1013
1014
1015
1016
1017
1018
1019
1020
1021
1022
1023
1024
1025
1026
1027
1028
1029
1030
1031
1032
1033
1034
1035
1036
1037
1038
1039
1040
1041
1042
1043
1044
1045
1046
1047
1048
1049
1050
1051
1052
1053
1054
1055
1056
1057
1058
1059
1060
1061
1062
1063
1064
1065
1066
1067
1068
1069
1070
1071
1072
1073
1074
1075
1076
1077
1078
1079
1080
1081
1082
1083
1084
1085
1086
1087
1088
1089
1090
1091
1092
1093
1094
1095
1096
1097
1098
1099
1100
1101
1102
1103
1104
1105
1106
1107
1108
1109
1110
1111
1112
1113
1114
1115
1116
1117
1118
1119
1120
1121
1122
1123
1124
1125
1126
1127
1128
1129
1130
1131
1132
1133
1134
1135
1136
1137
1138
1139
1140
1141
1142
1143
1144
1145
1146
1147
1148
1149
1150
1151
1152
1153
1154
1155
1156
1157
1158
1159
1160
1161
1162
1163
1164
1165
1166
1167
1168
1169
1170
1171
1172
1173
1174
1175
1176
1177
1178
1179
1180
1181
1182
1183
1184
1185
1186
1187
1188
1189
1190
1191
1192
1193
1194
1195
1196
1197
1198
1199
1200
1201
1202
1203
1204
1205
1206
1207
1208
1209
1210
1211
1212
1213
1214
1215
1216
1217
1218
1219
1220
1221
1222
1223
1224
1225
1226
1227
1228
1229
1230
1231
1232
1233
1234
1235
1236
1237
1238
1239
1240
1241
1242
1243
1244
1245
1246
1247
1248
1249
1250
1251
1252
1253
1254
1255
1256
1257
1258
1259
1260
1261
1262
1263
1264
1265
1266
1267
1268
1269
1270
1271
1272
1273
1274
1275
1276
1277
1278
1279
1280
1281
1282
1283
1284
1285
1286
1287
1288
1289
1290
1291
1292
1293
1294
1295
1296
1297
1298
1299
1300
1301
1302
1303
1304
1305
1306
1307
1308
1309
1310
1311
1312
1313
1314
1315
1316
1317
1318
1319
1320
1321
1322
1323
1324
1325
1326
1327
1328
1329
1330
1331
1332
1333
1334
1335
1336
1337
1338
1339
1340
1341
1342
1343
1344
1345
1346
1347
1348
1349
1350
1351
1352
1353
1354
1355
1356
1357
1358
1359
1360
1361
1362
1363
1364
1365
1366
1367
1368
1369
1370
1371
1372
1373
1374
1375
1376
1377
1378
1379
1380
1381
1382
1383
1384
1385
1386
1387
1388
1389
1390
1391
1392
1393
1394
1395
1396
1397
1398
1399
1400
1401
1402
1403
1404
1405
1406
1407
1408
1409
1410
1411
1412
1413
1414
1415
1416
1417
1418
1419
1420
1421
1422
1423
1424
1425
1426
1427
1428
1429
1430
1431
1432
1433
1434
1435
1436
1437
1438
1439
1440
1441
1442
1443
1444
1445
1446
1447
1448
1449
1450
1451
1452
1453
1454
1455
1456
1457
1458
1459
1460
1461
1462
1463
1464
1465
1466
1467
1468
1469
1470
1471
1472
1473
1474
1475
1476
1477
1478
1479
1480
1481
1482
1483
1484
1485
1486
1487
1488
1489
1490
1491
1492
1493
1494
1495
1496
1497
1498
1499
1500
1501
1502
1503
1504
1505
1506
1507
1508
1509
1510
1511
1512
1513
1514
1515
1516
1517
1518
1519
1520
1521
1522
1523
1524
1525
1526
1527
1528
1529
1530
1531
1532
1533
1534
1535
1536
1537
1538
1539
1540
1541
1542
1543
1544
1545
1546
1547
1548
1549
1550
1551
1552
1553
1554
1555
1556
1557
1558
1559
1560
1561
1562
1563
1564
1565
1566
1567
1568
1569
1570
1571
1572
1573
1574
1575
1576
1577
1578
1579
1580
1581
1582
1583
1584
1585
1586
1587
1588
1589
1590
1591
1592
1593
1594
1595
1596
1597
1598
1599
1600
1601
1602
1603
1604
1605
1606
1607
1608
1609
1610
1611
1612
1613
1614
1615
1616
1617
1618
1619
1620
1621
1622
1623
1624
1625
1626
1627
1628
1629
1630
1631
1632
1633
1634
1635
1636
1637
1638
1639
1640
1641
1642
1643
1644
1645
1646
1647
1648
1649
1650
1651
1652
1653
1654
1655
1656
1657
1658
1659
1660
1661
1662
1663
1664
1665
1666
1667
1668
1669
1670
1671
1672
1673
1674
1675
1676
1677
1678
1679
1680
1681
1682
1683
1684
1685
1686
1687
1688
1689
1690
1691
1692
1693
1694
1695
1696
1697
1698
1699
1700
1701
1702
1703
1704
1705
1706
1707
1708
1709
1710
1711
1712
1713
1714
1715
1716
1717
1718
1719
1720
1721
1722
1723
1724
1725
1726
1727
1728
1729
1730
1731
1732
1733
1734
1735
1736
1737
1738
1739
1740
1741
1742
1743
1744
1745
1746
1747
1748
1749
1750
1751
1752
1753
1754
1755
1756
1757
1758
1759
1760
1761
1762
1763
1764
1765
1766
1767
1768
1769
1770
1771
1772
1773
1774
1775
1776
1777
1778
1779
1780
1781
1782
1783
1784
1785
1786
1787
1788
1789
1790
1791
1792
1793
1794
1795
1796
1797
1798
1799
1800
1801
1802
1803
1804
1805
1806
1807
1808
1809
1810
1811
1812
1813
1814
1815
1816
1817
1818
1819
1820
1821
1822
1823
1824
1825
1826
1827
1828
1829
1830
1831
1832
1833
1834
1835
1836
1837
1838
1839
1840
1841
1842
1843
1844
1845
1846
1847
1848
1849
1850
1851
1852
1853
1854
1855
1856
1857
1858
1859
1860
1861
1862
1863
1864
1865
1866
1867
1868
1869
1870
1871
1872
1873
1874
1875
1876
1877
1878
1879
1880
1881
1882
1883
1884
1885
1886
1887
1888
1889
1890
1891
1892
1893
1894
1895
1896
1897
1898
1899
1900
1901
1902
1903
1904
1905
1906
1907
1908
1909
1910
1911
1912
1913
1914
1915
1916
1917
1918
1919
1920
1921
1922
1923
1924
1925
1926
1927
1928
1929
1930
1931
1932
1933
1934
1935
1936
1937
1938
1939
1940
1941
1942
1943
1944
1945
1946
1947
1948
1949
1950
1951
1952
1953
1954
1955
1956
1957
1958
1959
1960
1961
1962
1963
1964
1965
1966
1967
1968
1969
1970
1971
1972
1973
1974
1975
1976
1977
1978
1979
1980
1981
1982
1983
1984
1985
1986
1987
1988
1989
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
2021
2022
2023
2024
2025
2026
2027
2028
2029
2030
2031
2032
2033
2034
2035
2036
2037
2038
2039
2040
2041
2042
2043
2044
2045
2046
2047
2048
2049
2050
2051
2052
2053
2054
2055
2056
2057
2058
2059
2060
2061
2062
2063
2064
2065
2066
2067
2068
2069
2070
2071
2072
2073
2074
2075
2076
2077
2078
2079
2080
2081
2082
2083
2084
2085
2086
2087
2088
2089
2090
2091
2092
2093
2094
2095
2096
2097
2098
2099
2100
2101
2102
2103
2104
2105
2106
2107
2108
2109
2110
2111
2112
2113
2114
2115
2116
2117
2118
2119
2120
2121
2122
2123
2124
2125
2126
2127
2128
2129
2130
2131
2132
2133
2134
2135
2136
2137
2138
2139
2140
2141
2142
2143
2144
2145
2146
2147
2148
2149
2150
2151
2152
2153
2154
2155
2156
2157
2158
2159
2160
2161
2162
2163
2164
2165
2166
2167
2168
2169
2170
2171
2172
2173
2174
2175
2176
2177
2178
2179
2180
2181
2182
2183
2184
2185
2186
2187
2188
2189
2190
2191
2192
<article>
<title>Homesteading the Noosphere</title>
<articleinfo>

<!-- %%BEGIN STANDALONE%% -->
<author>
  <firstname>Eric</firstname>
  <othername>Steven</othername>
  <surname>Raymond</surname>
  <affiliation>
    <orgname><ulink url="http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/">
    Thyrsus Enterprises</ulink></orgname> 
    <address>
    <email>esr@thyrsus.com</email>
    </address>
  </affiliation>
</author>
<pubdate role="cvs">$Date: 2002/08/02 09:02:15 $</pubdate>
<releaseinfo>This is version 3.0</releaseinfo>
<copyright>
  <year>2000</year>
  <holder role="mailto:esr@thyrsus.com">Eric S. Raymond</holder> 
</copyright>
<legalnotice>
  <title>Copyright</title>
  <para>Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify
  this document under the terms of the Open Publication License,
  version 2.0.</para>
</legalnotice>

<revhistory>
   <revision>
      <revnumber>1.22</revnumber>
      <date>24 August 2000</date>
      <authorinitials>esr</authorinitials>
       <revremark>
	  Handicap theory, peacocks, and stags.  Parallels with knighthood.
       </revremark>
   </revision>

   <revision>
      <revnumber>1.22</revnumber>
      <date>24 August 2000</date>
      <authorinitials>esr</authorinitials>
       <revremark>
	  DocBook 4.1 conversion.
       </revremark>
   </revision>

   <revision>
      <revnumber>1.21</revnumber>
      <date>31 Aug 1999</date>
      <authorinitials>esr</authorinitials>
       <revremark>
	  Major revision for the O'Reilly book. Incorporated some
	  ideas about the costs of forking and rogue patches from
	  Michael Chastain.  Thomas Gagne (tgagne@ix.netcom.com)
	  noticed the similarity between "seniority wins" and database
	  heuristics.  Henry Spencer's political analogy.  Ryan
	  Waldron and El Howard (elhoward@hotmail.com)
	  contributed thoughts on the value of novelty.  Thomas Bryan
	  (tbryan@arlut.utexas.edu) explained the hacker
	  revulsion to ``embrace and extend''.  Darcy Horrocks
	  inspired the new section ``How Fine A Gift?''  Other new
	  material on the connection to the Maslovian hierarcy of
	  values, and the taboo against attacks on competence.
       </revremark>
   </revision>

   <revision>
      <revnumber>1.14</revnumber>
      <date>21 November 1998</date>
      <authorinitials>esr</authorinitials>
       <revremark>
	  Minor editorial and stale-link fixes.
       </revremark>
   </revision>

   <revision>
      <revnumber>1.10</revnumber>
      <date>11 July 1998</date>
      <authorinitials>esr</authorinitials>
       <revremark>
          Remove Fare Rideau's reference to `fame' at his
          suggestion.
       </revremark>
   </revision>

   <revision>
      <revnumber>1.9</revnumber>
      <date>26 May 1998</date>
      <authorinitials>esr</authorinitials>
       <revremark>
	  Incorporated Far&eacute; Rideau's noosphere/ergosphere
	  distinction. Incorporated RMS's assertion that he is not
	  anticommercial.  New section on acculturation and academia
	  (thanks to Ross J. Reedstrom, Eran Tromer, Allan McInnes,
	  Mike Whitaker, and others). More about humility, (`egoless
	  behavior') from Jerry Fass and Marsh Ray.
       </revremark>
   </revision>

   <revision>
      <revnumber>1.8</revnumber>
      <date>27 April 1998</date>
      <authorinitials>esr</authorinitials>
       <revremark>
          Added Goldhaber to the bibliography.  This is the
	  version that will go in the Linux Expo proceedings.
       </revremark>
   </revision>

   <revision>
      <revnumber>1.7</revnumber>
      <date>16 April 1998</date>
      <authorinitials>esr</authorinitials>
       <revremark>
	  New section on `Global implications' discusses
	  historical tends in the colonization of the noosphere, and
	  examines the `category-killer' phenomenon.  Added another
	  research question.
       </revremark>
   </revision>

   <revision>
      <revnumber>1.3</revnumber>
      <date>12 April 1998</date>
      <authorinitials>esr</authorinitials>
       <revremark>
          Typo fixes and responses to first round of public
	  comments.  First four items in bibliography.  An anonymously
	  contributed observation about reputation incentives
	  operating even when the craftsman is unaware of them.  Added
	  instructive contrasts with warez d00dz, material on the
	  `software should speak for itself' premise, and observations
	  on avoiding personality cults.  As a result of all these
	  changes, the section on `The Problem of Ego' grew and
	  fissioned.
       </revremark>
   </revision>

   <revision>
      <revnumber>1.2</revnumber>
      <date>10 April 1998</date>
      <authorinitials>esr</authorinitials>
       <revremark>
          First published on the Web.
       </revremark>
   </revision>
</revhistory>
<!-- %%END ENDNOTES%% -->

<abstract>
<para>After observing a contradiction between the official ideology 
defined by open-source licenses and the actual behavior of hackers, 
I examine the actual customs that regulate the ownership and control
of open-source software.  I show that they imply an underlying
theory of property rights homologous to the Lockean theory of land
tenure.  I then relate that to an analysis of the hacker culture
as a `gift culture' in which participants compete for prestige
by giving time, energy, and creativity away.  Finally, I examine the
consequences of this analysis for conflict resolution in the culture,
and develop some prescriptive implications.</para>
</abstract>
</articleinfo>

<sect1><title>An Introductory Contradiction</title>

<para>Anyone who watches the busy, tremendously productive world of Internet
open-source software for a while is bound to notice an interesting
contradiction between what open-source hackers say they believe and
the way they actually behave&mdash;between the official ideology of the
open-source culture and its actual practice.</para>

<para>Cultures are adaptive machines.  The open-source culture is a
response to an identifiable set of drives and pressures.  As usual,
the culture's adaptation to its circumstances manifests both as
conscious ideology and as implicit, unconscious or semi-conscious
knowledge.  And, as is not uncommon, the unconscious adaptations are
partly at odds with the conscious ideology.</para>

<para>In this essay, I will dig around the roots of that contradiction, and
use it to discover those drives and pressures.  I will deduce some
interesting things about the hacker culture and its customs.  I will
conclude by suggesting ways in which the culture's implicit knowledge
can be leveraged better.</para>

</sect1>
<sect1><title>The Varieties of Hacker Ideology</title>

<para>The ideology of the Internet open-source culture (what hackers
say they believe) is a fairly complex topic in itself.  All members
agree that open source (that is, software that is freely
redistributable and can readily evolved and be modified to fit
changing needs) is a good thing and worthy of significant and
collective effort.  This agreement effectively defines membership in
the culture.  However, the reasons individuals and various subcultures
give for this belief vary considerably.</para>

<para>One degree of variation is zealotry; whether open source development
is regarded merely as a convenient means to an end (good tools and fun
toys and an interesting game to play) or as an end in itself.</para>

<para>A person of great zeal might say ``Free software is my life!  I
exist to create useful, beautiful programs and information resources,
and then give them away.''  A person of moderate zeal might say ``Open
source is a good thing, which I am willing to spend significant time
helping happen''.  A person of little zeal might say ``Yes, open
source is okay sometimes.  I play with it and respect people who build
it''.</para>

<para>Another degree of variation is in hostility to commercial
software and/or the companies perceived to dominate the commercial
software market.</para>

<para>A very anticommercial person might say ``Commercial software is
theft and hoarding.  I write free software to end this evil.''  A
moderately anticommercial person might say ``Commercial software in
general is OK because programmers deserve to get paid, but companies
that coast on shoddy products and throw their weight around are
evil.''  An un-anticommercial person might say ``Commercial software
is okay, I just use and/or write open-source software because I like it
better''.  (Nowadays, given the growth of the open-source part of the
industry since the first public version of this essay, one might also
hear ``Commercial software is fine, as long as I get the source or it
does what I want it to do.'')</para>

<para>All nine of the attitudes implied by the cross-product of the
categories mentioned earlier are represented in the open-source
culture.  It is worthwhile to point out the distinctions because they
imply different agendas, and different adaptive and cooperative
behaviors.</para>

<para>Historically, the most visible and best-organized part of the hacker
culture has been both very zealous and very anticommercial.  The Free
Software Foundation founded by Richard M. Stallman (RMS) supported 
a great deal of open-source development from the early 1980s forward,
including tools like Emacs and GCC which are still basic to the Internet
open-source world, and seem likely to remain so for the forseeable
future.</para>

<para>For many years the FSF was the single most important focus of
open-source hacking, producing a huge number of tools still critical
to the culture.  The FSF was also long the only sponsor of open source
with an institutional identity visible to outside observers of the
hacker culture.  They effectively defined the term `free software',
deliberately giving it a confrontational weight (which the newer label
`<ulink url="http://www.opensource.org">open source</ulink>' just as
deliberately avoids).</para>

<para>Thus, perceptions of the hacker culture from both within and without
it tended to identify the culture with the FSF's zealous attitude and
perceived anticommercial aims.  RMS himself denies he is
anticommercial, but his program has been so read by most people,
including many of his most vocal partisans.  The FSF's vigorous and
explicit drive to ``Stamp Out Software Hoarding!'' became the closest
thing to a hacker ideology, and RMS the closest thing to a leader of
the hacker culture.</para>

<para>The FSF's license terms, the ``General Public License'' (GPL),
expresses the FSF's attitudes.  It is very widely used in the
open-source world.  North Carolina's <ulink
url="http://metalab.unc.edu/pub/Linux/welcome.html">Metalab</ulink>
(formerly Sunsite) is the largest and most popular software archive in
the Linux world.  In July 1997 about half the Sunsite software
packages with explicit license terms used GPL.</para>

<para>But the FSF was never the only game in town.  There was always a
quieter, less confrontational and more market-friendly strain in the
hacker culture.  The pragmatists were loyal not so much to an ideology
as to a group of engineering traditions founded on early open-source
efforts which predated the FSF.  These traditions included, most
importantly, the intertwined technical cultures of Unix and the
pre-commercial Internet.</para>

<para>The typical pragmatist attitude is only moderately anticommercial, and
its major grievance against the corporate world is not `hoarding' per
se.  Rather it is that world's perverse refusal to adopt superior
approaches incorporating Unix and open standards and open-source
software.  If the pragmatist hates anything, it is less likely to be
`hoarders' in general than the current King Log of the software
establishment; formerly IBM, now Microsoft.</para>

<para>To pragmatists the GPL is important as a tool, rather than as an
end in itself.  Its main value is not as a weapon against `hoarding',
but as a tool for encouraging software sharing and the growth of
<ulink url="http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar">
bazaar-mode</ulink>bazaar-mode development communities.  The
pragmatist values having good tools and toys more than he dislikes
commercialism, and may use high-quality commercial software without
ideological discomfort.  At the same time, his open-source experience
has taught him standards of technical quality that very little closed
software can meet.</para>

<para>For many years, the pragmatist point of view expressed itself
within the hacker culture mainly as a stubborn current of refusal to
completely buy into the GPL in particular or the FSF's agenda in
general.  Through the 1980s and early 1990s, this attitude tended to
be associated with fans of Berkeley Unix, users of the BSD license,
and the early efforts to build open-source Unixes from the BSD source
base.  These efforts, however, failed to build bazaar communities of
significant size, and became seriously fragmented and
ineffective.</para>

<para>Not until the Linux explosion of early 1993&ndash;1994 did
pragmatism find a real power base.  Although Linus Torvalds never made
a point of opposing RMS, he set an example by looking benignly on the
growth of a commercial Linux industry, by publicly endorsing the use
of high-quality commercial software for specific tasks, and by gently
deriding the more purist and fanatical elements in the culture.</para>

<para>A side effect of the rapid growth of Linux was the induction of
a large number of new hackers for which Linux was their primary
loyalty and the FSF's agenda primarily of historical interest.  Though
the newer wave of Linux hackers might describe the system as ``the
choice of a GNU generation'', most tended to emulate Torvalds more
than Stallman.</para>

<para>Increasingly it was the anticommercial purists who found themselves in
a minority.  How much things had changed would not become apparent
until the Netscape announcement in February 1998 that it would
distribute Navigator 5.0 in source.  This excited more interest in `free
software' within the corporate world. The subsequent call to the hacker
culture to exploit this unprecedented opportunity and to re-label its
product from `free software' to `open source' was met with a level of
instant approval that surprised everybody involved.</para>

<para>In a reinforcing development, the pragmatist part of the culture was
itself becoming polycentric by the mid-1990s.  Other semi-independent
communities with their own self-consciousness and charismatic leaders
began to bud from the Unix/Internet root stock.  Of these, the most
important after Linux was the Perl culture under Larry Wall.  Smaller,
but still significant, were the traditions building up around John
Osterhout's Tcl and Guido van Rossum's Python languages.  All three of
these communities expressed their ideological independence by devising
their own, non-GPL licensing schemes.</para>

</sect1>
<sect1><title>Promiscuous Theory, Puritan Practice</title>

<para>Through all these changes, nevertheless, there remained a broad
consensus theory of what `free software' or `open source' is.  The
clearest expression of this common theory can be found in the various
open-source licenses, all of which have crucial common
elements. </para>

<para>In 1997 these common elements were distilled into the Debian Free
Software Guidelines, which became the <ulink
url="http://www.opensource.org">Open Source Definition</ulink>.  Under
the guidelines defined by the OSD, an open-source license must protect an
unconditional right of any party to modify (and redistribute modified
versions of) open-source software.</para>

<para>Thus, the implicit theory of the OSD (and OSD-conformant
licenses such as the GPL, the BSD license, and Perl's Artistic
License) is that anyone can hack anything.  Nothing prevents half a
dozen different people from taking any given open-source product (such
as, say the Free Software Foundations's gcc C compiler), duplicating
the sources, running off with them in different evolutionary
directions, but all claiming to be <emphasis>the</emphasis>
product.</para>

<para>This kind of divergence is called a <emphasis>fork</emphasis>.
The most important characteristic of a fork is that it spawns
competing projects that cannot later exchange code, splitting the
potential developer community.  (There are phenomena that look
superficially like forking but are not, such as the proliferation of
different Linux distributions. In these pseudo-forking cases there may
be separate projects, but they use mostly common code and can benefit
from each other's development efforts completely enough that they are
neither technically nor sociologically a waste, and are not perceived
as forks.)</para>

<para>The open-source licenses do nothing to restrain forking, let
alone pseudo-forking; in fact, one could argue that they implicitly
encourage both.  In practice, however, pseudo-forking is common but
forking almost never happens.  Splits in major projects have been
rare, and are always accompanied by re-labeling and a large volume of
public self-justification.  It is clear, in such cases as the GNU
Emacs/XEmacs split, or the gcc/egcs split, or the various fissionings
of the BSD splinter groups, that the splitters felt they were going
against a fairly powerful community norm <link
linkend="BSD">[BSD]</link>.</para>

<para>In fact (and in contradiction to the anyone-can-hack-anything
consensus theory) the open-source culture has an elaborate but
largely unadmitted set of ownership customs. These customs
regulate who can modify software, the circumstances under which
it can be modified, and (especially) who has the right to
redistribute modified versions back to the community.</para>

<para>The taboos of a culture throw its norms into sharp relief.  Therefore,
it will be useful later on if we summarize some important ones here:</para>

<itemizedlist>
<listitem><para> 
There is strong social pressure against forking projects.  It does
not happen except under plea of dire necessity, with much public
self-justification, and requires a renaming.</para></listitem>
<listitem><para>
Distributing changes to a project without the cooperation of the
moderators is frowned upon, except in special cases like essentially
trivial porting fixes.</para></listitem>
<listitem><para>
Removing a person's name from a project history, credits, or maintainer
list is absolutely <emphasis>not done</emphasis> without the person's explicit
consent.</para></listitem>
</itemizedlist>

<para>In the remainder of this essay, we shall examine these taboos and
ownership customs in detail.  We shall inquire not only into how they
function but what they reveal about the underlying social dynamics and
incentive structures of the open-source community.</para>

</sect1>
<sect1><title>Ownership and Open Source</title>

<para>What does `ownership' mean when property is infinitely reduplicable, 
highly malleable, and the surrounding culture has neither coercive
power relationships nor material scarcity economics?</para>

<para>Actually, in the case of the open-source culture this is an easy
question to answer.  The owner of a software project is the person
who has the exclusive right, recognized by the community at large,
to <emphasis>distribute modified versions</emphasis>.</para>

<para>(In discussing `ownership' in this section I will use the singular, as
though all projects are owned by some one person.  It should be
understood, however, that projects may be owned by groups.  We shall
examine the internal dynamics of such groups later on.)</para>

<para>According to the standard open-source licenses, all parties are
equals in the evolutionary game.  But in practice there is a very
well-recognized distinction between `official' patches, approved and
integrated into the evolving software by the publicly recognized
maintainers, and `rogue' patches by third parties.  Rogue patches are
unusual, and generally not trusted <link
linkend="rp">[RP]</link>.</para>

<para>That <emphasis>public</emphasis> redistribution is the
fundamental issue is easy to establish.  Custom encourages people to
patch software for personal use when necessary. Custom is indifferent
to people who redistribute modified versions within a closed user or
development group.  It is only when modifications are posted to the
open-source community in general, to compete with the original, that
ownership becomes an issue.</para>

<para>There are, in general, three ways to acquire ownership of an
open-source project.  One, the most obvious, is to found the project.
When a project has had only one maintainer since its inception and
the maintainer is still active, custom does not even permit a
<emphasis>question</emphasis> as to who owns the project.</para>

<para>The second way is to have ownership of the project handed to you by
the previous owner (this is sometimes known as `passing the baton').
It is well understood in the community that project owners have a duty
to pass projects to competent successors when they are no longer
willing or able to invest needed time in development or maintenance
work.</para>

<para>It is significant that in the case of major projects, such transfers
of control are generally announced with some fanfare.  While it is
unheard of for the open-source community at large to actually
interfere in the owner's choice of succession, customary practice
clearly incorporates a premise that public legitimacy is important.</para>

<para>For minor projects, it is generally sufficient for a change history
included with the project distribution to note the change of
ownership.  The clear presumption is that if the former owner has not
in fact voluntarily transferred control, he or she may reassert
control with community backing by objecting publicly within a
reasonable period of time.</para>

<para>The third way to acquire ownership of a project is to observe that it
needs work and the owner has disappeared or lost interest.  If you
want to do this, it is your responsibility to make the effort to find
the owner.  If you don't succeed, then you may announce in a relevant
place (such as a Usenet newsgroup dedicated to the application area)
that the project appears to be orphaned, and that you are considering
taking responsibility for it.</para>

<para>Custom demands that you allow some time to pass before following
up with an announcement that you have declared yourself the new owner.
In this interval, if someone else announces that they have been
actually working on the project, their claim trumps yours.  It is
considered good form to give public notice of your intentions more
than once.  You get more points for good form if you announce in many
relevant forums (related newsgroups, mailing lists), and still more if
you show patience in waiting for replies.  In general, the more
visible effort you make to allow the previous owner or other claimants
to respond, the better your claim if no response is
forthcoming.</para>

<para>If you have gone through this process in sight of the project's user
community, and there are no objections, then you may claim ownership
of the orphaned project and so note in its history file.  This,
however, is less secure than being passed the baton, and you cannot
expect to be considered fully legitimate until you have made
substantial improvements in the sight of the user community.</para>

<para>I have observed these customs in action for 20 years, going back
to the pre-FSF ancient history of open-source software.  They have
several very interesting features.  One of the most interesting is
that most hackers have followed them without being fully aware of
doing so.  Indeed, this may be the first conscious and reasonably
complete summary ever to have been written down.</para>

<para>Another is that, for unconscious customs, they have been followed with
remarkable (even astonishing) consistency.  I have observed the
evolution of literally hundreds of open-source projects, and I can
still count the number of significant violations I have observed or
heard about on my fingers.</para>

<para>Yet a third interesting feature is that as these customs have evolved
over time, they have done so in a consistent direction.  That
direction has been to encourage more public accountability, more
public notice, and more care about preserving the credits and change
histories of projects in ways that (among other things) establish
the legitimacy of the present owners.</para>

<para>These features suggest that the customs are not accidental, but are
products of some kind of implicit agenda or generative pattern in the
open-source culture that is utterly fundamental to the way it operates.</para>

<para>An early respondent pointed out that contrasting the Internet hacker
culture with the cracker/pirate culture (the ``warez d00dz'' centered
around game-cracking and pirate bulletin-board systems) illuminates
the generative patterns of both rather well.  We'll return to the
d00dz for contrast later in this essay.</para>

</sect1>
<sect1><title>Locke and Land Title</title>

<para>To understand this generative pattern, it helps to notice a historical
analogy for these customs that is far outside the domain of hackers'
usual concerns.  As students of legal history and political philosophy
may recognize, the theory of property they imply is virtually
identical to the Anglo-American common-law theory of land tenure!</para>

<para>In this theory, there are three ways to acquire ownership of land:</para>

<para>On a frontier, where land exists that has never had an owner, one
can acquire ownership by <emphasis>homesteading</emphasis>, mixing one's labor
with the unowned land, fencing it, and defending one's title.</para>

<para>The usual means of transfer in settled areas is <emphasis>transfer of
title</emphasis>&mdash;that is, receiving the deed from the previous owner.
In this theory, the concept of `chain of title' is important.
The ideal proof of ownership is a chain of deeds and transfers
extending back to when the land was originally homesteaded.</para>

<para>Finally, the common-law theory recognizes that land title may be
lost or abandoned (for example, if the owner dies without heirs, or
the records needed to establish chain of title to vacant land are
gone).  A piece of land that has become derelict in this way may be
claimed by <emphasis>adverse possession</emphasis>&mdash;one moves in,
improves it, and defends title as if homesteading.</para>

<para>This theory, like hacker customs, evolved organically in a context
where central authority was weak or nonexistent.  It developed over a
period of a thousand years from Norse and Germanic tribal law.
Because it was systematized and rationalized in the early modern era
by the English political philosopher John Locke, it is sometimes
referred to as the Lockean theory of property.</para>

<para>Logically similar theories have tended to evolve wherever
property has high economic or survival value and no single authority
is powerful enough to force central allocation of scarce goods.  This
is true even in the hunter-gatherer cultures that are sometimes
romantically thought to have no concept of `property'.  For example,
in the traditions of the !Kung San bushmen of the Kgalagadi (formerly
`Kalahari') Desert, there is no ownership of hunting grounds.  But
there <emphasis>is</emphasis> ownership of waterholes and springs
under a theory recognizably akin to Locke's.</para>

<para>The !Kung San example is instructive, because it shows that Lockean
property customs arise only where the expected return from the
resource exceeds the expected cost of defending it.  Hunting grounds
are not property because the return from hunting is highly
unpredictable and variable, and (although highly prized) not a
necessity for day-to-day survival.  Waterholes, on the other hand, are
vital to survival and small enough to defend.</para>

<para>The `noosphere' of this essay's title is the territory of ideas, the
space of all possible thoughts <link linkend="N">[N]</link>.  What we see
implied in hacker ownership customs is a Lockean theory of property
rights in one subset of the noosphere, the space of all programs.
Hence `homesteading the noosphere', which is what every founder of a
new open-source project does.</para>

<para>Far&eacute; Rideau <email>fare@tunes.org</email> correctly
points out that hackers do not exactly operate in the territory of
pure ideas. He asserts that what hackers own is <emphasis>programming
projects</emphasis>&mdash;intensional focus points of material labor
(development, service, etc), to which are associated things like
reputation, trustworthiness, etc.  He therefore asserts that the space
spanned by hacker projects, is <emphasis>not</emphasis> the noosphere
but a sort of dual of it, the space of noosphere-exploring program
projects.  (With an apologetic nod to the astrophysicists out there,
it would be etymologically correct to call this dual space the
`ergosphere' or `sphere of work'.)</para>

<para>In practice, the distinction between noosphere and ergosphere is
not important for the purposes of our present argument.  It is dubious whether
the `noosphere' in the pure sense on which Far&eacute; insists can be said
to exist in any meaningful way; one would almost have to be a
Platonic philosopher to believe in it.  And the distinction between
noosphere and ergosphere is only of <emphasis>practical</emphasis>
importance if one wishes to assert that ideas (the elements of the
noosphere) cannot be owned, but their instantiations as projects can.
This question leads to issues in the theory of intellectual property
which are beyond the scope of this essay (but see <link linkend="DF">
[DF]</link>).</para>

<para>To avoid confusion, however, it is important to note that
neither the noosphere nor the ergosphere is the same as the totality
of virtual locations in electronic media that is sometimes (to the
disgust of most hackers) called `cyberspace'.  Property there is
regulated by completely different rules that are closer to those of
the material substratum&mdash;essentially, he who owns the media and
machines on which a part of `cyberspace' is hosted owns that piece of
cyberspace as a result.</para>

<para>The Lockean logic of custom suggests strongly that open-source
hackers observe the customs they do in order to defend some kind of
expected return from their effort.  The return must be more
significant than the effort of homesteading projects, the cost of
maintaining version histories that document `chain of title', and the
time cost of making public notifications and waiting before taking
adverse possession of an orphaned project.</para>

<para>Furthermore, the `yield' from open source must be something more than
simply the use of the software, something else that would be
compromised or diluted by forking.  If use were the only issue, there
would be no taboo against forking, and open-source ownership would not
resemble land tenure at all.  In fact, this alternate world (where use
is the only yield, and forking is unproblematic) is the one implied by
existing open-source licenses.</para>

<para>We can eliminate some candidate kinds of yield right away.  Because
you can't coerce effectively over a network connection, seeking power
is right out.  Likewise, the open-source culture doesn't have anything
much resembling money or an internal scarcity economy, so hackers
cannot be pursuing anything very closely analogous to material wealth
(e.g. the accumulation of scarcity tokens).</para>

<para>There is one way that open-source activity can help people become
wealthier, however&mdash;a way that provides a valuable clue to what
actually motivates it.  Occasionally, the reputation one gains in the
hacker culture can spill over into the real world in economically
significant ways.  It can get you a better job offer, or a consulting
contract, or a book deal.</para>

<para>This kind of side effect, however, is at best rare and marginal for
most hackers; far too much so to make it convincing as a sole
explanation, even if we ignore the repeated protestations by hackers that
they're doing what they do not for money but out of idealism or love.</para>

<para>However, the way such economic side effects are mediated is worth
examination.  Next we'll see that an understanding of the dynamics of
reputation within the open-source culture <emphasis>itself</emphasis> has
considerable explanatory power.</para>

</sect1>
<sect1><title>The Hacker Milieu as Gift Culture</title>

<para>To understand the role of reputation in the open-source culture, it is
helpful to move from history further into anthropology and economics,
and examine the difference between <emphasis>exchange cultures</emphasis> and
<emphasis>gift cultures</emphasis>.</para>

<para>Human beings have an innate drive to compete for social status; it's
wired in by our evolutionary history.  For the 90% of hominid history
that ran before the invention of agriculture, our ancestors lived in
small nomadic hunter-gatherer bands.  High-status individuals (those
most effective at informing coalitions and persuading others to
cooperate with them) got the healthiest mates and access to the best
food.  This drive for status expresses itself in different ways,
depending largely on the degree of scarcity of survival goods.</para>

<para>Most ways humans have of organizing are adaptations to scarcity
and want.  Each way carries with it different ways of gaining social
status.</para>

<para>The simplest way is the <emphasis>command hierarchy</emphasis>.
In command hierarchies, scarce goods are allocated by one central
authority and backed up by force.  Command hierarchies scale very
poorly <link linkend="Mal">[Mal]</link>; they become increasingly
brutal and inefficient as they get larger.  For this reason, command
hierarchies above the size of an extended family are almost always
parasites on a larger economy of a different type.  In command
hierarchies, social status is primarily determined by access to
coercive power.</para>

<para>Our society is predominantly an <emphasis>exchange
economy</emphasis>.  This is a sophisticated adaptation to scarcity
that, unlike the command model, scales quite well.  Allocation of
scarce goods is done in a decentralized way through trade and
voluntary cooperation (and in fact, the dominating effect of
competitive desire is to produce cooperative behavior).  In an
exchange economy, social status is primarily determined by having
control of things (not necessarily material things) to use or
trade.</para>

<para>Most people have implicit mental models for both of the above, and how
they interact with each other.  Government, the military, and
organized crime (for example) are command hierarchies parasitic on the
broader exchange economy we call `the free market'.  There's a third
model, however, that is radically different from either and not
generally recognized except by anthropologists; the <emphasis>gift
culture</emphasis>.</para>

<para>Gift cultures are adaptations not to scarcity but to abundance.  
They arise in populations that do not have significant
material-scarcity problems with survival goods.  We can observe
gift cultures in action among aboriginal cultures living in
ecozones with mild climates and abundant food.  We can also
observe them in certain strata of our own society, especially
in show business and among the very wealthy.</para>

<para>Abundance makes command relationships difficult to sustain
and exchange relationships an almost pointless game.  In gift
cultures, social status is determined not by what you control
but by <emphasis>what you give away</emphasis>.</para>

<para>Thus the Kwakiutl chieftain's potlach party.  Thus the
multi-millionaire's elaborate and usually public acts of philanthropy.
And thus the hacker's long hours of effort to produce high-quality
open-source code.</para>

<para>For examined in this way, it is quite clear that the society of
open-source hackers is in fact a gift culture.  Within it, there is no
serious shortage of the `survival necessities'&mdash;disk space, network
bandwidth, computing power.  Software is freely shared.  This
abundance creates a situation in which the only available measure of
competitive success is reputation among one's peers.</para>

<para>This observation is not in itself entirely sufficient to explain
the observed features of hacker culture, however.  The crackers and
warez d00dz have a gift culture that thrives in the same (electronic)
media as that of the hackers, but their behavior is very different.
The group mentality in their culture is much stronger and more
exclusive than among hackers.  They hoard secrets rather than sharing
them; one is much more likely to find cracker groups distributing
sourceless executables that crack software than tips that give away
how they did it.  (For an inside perspective on this behavior, see
<link linkend="lw" >[LW]</link>).</para>

<para>What this shows, in case it wasn't obvious, is that there is
more than one way to run a gift culture.  History and values matter.
I have summarized the history of the hacker culture in <citetitle>A
Brief History of Hackerdom</citetitle><link linkend="HH">[HH]</link>;
the ways in which it shaped present behavior are not mysterious.
Hackers have defined their culture by a set of choices about the
<emphasis>form</emphasis> that their competition will take.  It is
that form that we will examine in the remainder of this essay.</para>

</sect1>
<sect1><title>The Joy of Hacking</title>

<para>In making this `reputation game' analysis, by the way, I do not mean to
devalue or ignore the pure artistic satisfaction of designing
beautiful software and making it work.  Hackers all experience this kind
of satisfaction and thrive on it.  People for whom it is not a
significant motivation never become hackers in the first place, just
as people who don't love music never become composers.</para>

<para>So perhaps we should consider another model of hacker behavior in
which the pure joy of craftsmanship is the primary motivation.
This `craftsmanship' model would have to explain hacker custom as a way
of maximizing both the opportunities for craftsmanship and the quality
of the results.  Does this conflict with or suggest different results
than the reputation game model?</para>  

<para>Not really.  In examining the craftsmanship model, we come back
to the same problems that constrain hackerdom to operate like a gift
culture.  How can one maximize quality if there is no metric for
quality?  If scarcity economics doesn't operate, what metrics are
available besides peer evaluation?  It appears that any craftsmanship
culture ultimately must structure itself through a reputation
game&mdash;and, in fact, we can observe exactly this dynamic in many
historical craftsmanship cultures from the medieval guilds
onwards.</para>

<para>In one important respect, the craftsmanship model is weaker than the
`gift culture' model; by itself, it doesn't help explain the
contradiction we began this essay with.</para>

<para>Finally, the craftsmanship motivation itself may not be
psychologically as far removed from the reputation game as we might
like to assume.  Imagine your beautiful program locked up in a drawer
and never used again.  Now imagine it being used effectively and with
pleasure by many people.  Which dream gives you satisfaction?</para> 

<para>Nevertheless, we'll keep an eye on the craftsmanship model.  It is
intuitively appealing to many hackers, and explains some aspects of
individual behavior well enough <link linkend="HT">[HT]</link>.</para>

<para>After I published the first version of this essay on the Internet, an
anonymous respondent commented: ``You may not work to get reputation,
but the reputation is a real payment with consequences if you do the
job well.''  This is a subtle and important point.  The reputation
incentives continue to operate whether or not a craftsman is aware of
them; thus, ultimately, whether or not a hacker understands his own
behavior as part of the reputation game, his behavior will be shaped
by that game.</para>

<para>Other respondents related peer-esteem rewards and the joy of
hacking to the levels above subsistence needs in Abraham Maslow's
well-known `hierarchy of values' model of human motivation <link
linkend="MH">[MH]</link>.  On this view, the joy of hacking fulfills a
self-actualization or transcendence need, which will not be
consistently expressed until lower-level needs (including those for
physical security and for `belongingness' or peer esteem) have been at
least minimally satisfied.  Thus, the reputation game may be critical
in providing a social context within which the joy of hacking can in
fact <emphasis>become</emphasis> the individual's primary
motive.</para>

</sect1>
<sect1><title>The Many Faces of Reputation</title>

<para>There are reasons general to every gift culture why peer repute
(prestige) is worth playing for:</para>

<para>First and most obviously, good reputation among one's peers is a
primary reward.  We're wired to experience it that way for
evolutionary reasons touched on earlier.  (Many people learn to
redirect their drive for prestige into various sublimations that
have no obvious connection to a visible peer group, such as ``honor'',
``ethical integrity'', ``piety'' etc.; this does not change the underlying
mechanism.)</para>

<para>Secondly, prestige is a good way (and in a pure gift economy,
the <emphasis>only</emphasis> way) to attract attention and
cooperation from others.  If one is well known for generosity,
intelligence, fair dealing, leadership ability, or other good
qualities, it becomes much easier to persuade other people that they
will gain by association with you.</para>

<para>Thirdly, if your gift economy is in contact with or intertwined with
an exchange economy or a command hierarchy, your reputation may spill
over and earn you higher status there.</para>

<para>Beyond these general reasons, the peculiar conditions of the hacker
culture make prestige even more valuable than it would be in a
`real world' gift culture.</para>

<para>The main `peculiar condition' is that the artifacts one gives away
(or, interpreted another way, are the visible sign of one's gift of
energy and time) are very complex.  Their value is nowhere near as
obvious as that of material gifts or exchange-economy money.  It is
much harder to objectively distinguish a fine gift from a poor one.
Accordingly, the success of a giver's bid for status is delicately
dependent on the critical judgement of peers.</para>

<para>Another peculiarity is the relative purity of the open-source culture.
Most gift cultures are compromised&mdash;either by exchange-economy
relationships such as trade in luxury goods, or by command-economy
relationships such as family or clan groupings.  No significant
analogues of these exist in the open-source culture; thus, ways
of gaining status other than by peer repute are virtually absent.</para>

</sect1>
<sect1><title>Ownership Rights and Reputation Incentives</title>

<para>We are now in a position to pull together the previous analyses into a
coherent account of hacker ownership customs.  We understand the
yield from homesteading the noosphere now; it is peer repute in the
gift culture of hackers, with all the secondary gains and side effects
that implies.</para>

<para>From this understanding, we can analyze the Lockean property
customs of hackerdom as a means of <emphasis>maximizing reputation
incentives</emphasis>; of ensuring that peer credit goes where it is
due and does not go where it is not due.</para>

<para>The three taboos we observed above make perfect sense under this
analysis.  One's reputation can suffer unfairly if someone else
misappropriates or mangles one's work; these taboos (and related
customs) attempt to prevent this from happening.  (Or, to put it more
pragmatically, hackers generally refrain from forking or
rogue-patching others' projects in order to be able to deny legitimacy
to the same behavior practiced against themselves.)</para>

<itemizedlist>
<listitem><para>
Forking projects is bad because it exposes pre-fork contributors to
a reputation risk they can only control by being active in both
child projects simultaneously after the fork.  (This would generally
be too confusing or difficult to be practical.)</para></listitem> 
<listitem><para>
Distributing rogue patches (or, much worse, rogue binaries) exposes
the owners to an unfair reputation risk.  Even if the official code
is perfect, the owners will catch flak from bugs in the patches (but
see <link linkend="rp">[RP]</link>).</para></listitem>
<listitem><para>
Surreptitiously filing someone's name off a project is, in cultural
context, one of the ultimate crimes.  Doing this steals the victim's gift
to be presented as the thief's own.</para></listitem>
</itemizedlist>

<para>Of course, forking a project or distributing rogue patches for it also
directly attacks the reputation of the original developer's group.  If
I fork or rogue-patch your project, I am saying: "you made a wrong
decision by failing to take the project where I am taking it"; and
anyone who uses my forked variation is endorsing this challenge.  But this
in itself would be a fair challenge, albeit extreme; it's the sharpest end of
peer review.  It's therefore not sufficient in itself to account for
the taboos, though it doubtless contributes force to them.</para>

<para>All three taboo behaviors inflict global harm on the open-source
community as well as local harm on the victim(s).  Implicitly they
damage the entire community by decreasing each potential contributor's
perceived likelihood that gift/productive behavior will be
rewarded.</para>

<para>It's important to note that there are alternate candidate explanations
for two of these three taboos.</para>

<para>First, hackers often explain their antipathy to forking projects
by bemoaning the wasteful duplication of work it would imply as the
child products evolve on more-or-less parallel courses into the
future. They may also observe that forking tends to split the
co-developer community, leaving both child projects with fewer brains
to use than the parent.</para>

<para>A respondent has pointed out that it is unusual for more than one 
offspring of a fork to survive with significant `market share' into
the long term.  This strengthens the incentives for all parties to
cooperate and avoid forking, because it's hard to know in advance
who will be on the losing side and see a lot of their work either
disappear entirely or languish in obscurity. </para>

<para>It has also been pointed out that the simple fact that forks are
likely to produce contention and dispute is enough to motivate social
pressure against them.  Contention and dispute disrupt the teamwork
that is necessary for each individual contributor to reach his or her
goals.</para>

<para>Dislike of rogue patches is often explained by the objection
that they can create compatibility problems between the daughter 
versions, complicate bug-tracking enormously, and inflict work on
maintainers who have quite enough to do catching their
<emphasis>own</emphasis> mistakes.</para>

<para>There is considerable truth to these explanations, and they certainly
do their bit to reinforce the Lockean logic of ownership.  But while
intellectually attractive, they fail to explain why so much emotion
and territoriality gets displayed on the infrequent occasions that the
taboos get bent or broken&mdash;not just by the injured parties, but by
bystanders and observers who often react quite harshly.  Cold-blooded
concerns about duplication of work and maintainance hassles simply do
not sufficiently explain the observed behavior.</para>

<para>Then, too, there is the third taboo.  It's hard to see how anything
but the reputation-game analysis can explain this.  The fact that this
taboo is seldom analyzed much more deeply than ``It wouldn't be fair''
is revealing in its own way, as we shall see in the next section.</para>

</sect1>
<sect1><title>The Problem of Ego</title>

<para>At the beginning of this essay I mentioned that the unconscious
adaptive knowledge of a culture is often at odds with its conscious
ideology.  We've seen one major example of this already in the fact
that Lockean ownership customs have been widely followed despite the
fact that they violate the stated intent of the standard licenses.</para>

<para>I have observed another interesting example of this phenomenon when
discussing the reputation-game analysis with hackers.  This is that
many hackers resisted the analysis and showed a strong reluctance to
admit that their behavior was motivated by a desire for peer repute
or, as I incautiously labeled it at the time, `ego satisfaction'.</para>

<para>This illustrates an interesting point about the hacker culture.  It
consciously distrusts and despises egotism and ego-based motivations;
self-promotion tends to be mercilessly criticized, even when the
community might appear to have something to gain from it.  So much so,
in fact, that the culture's `big men' and tribal elders are required
to talk softly and humorously deprecate themselves at every turn in
order to maintain their status.  How this attitude meshes with an
incentive structure that apparently runs almost entirely on ego cries
out for explanation.</para>

<para>A large part of it, certainly, stems from the generally negative
Europo-American attitude towards `ego'.  The cultural matrix of most
hackers teaches them that desiring ego satisfaction is a bad (or at
least immature) motivation; that ego is at best an eccentricity
tolerable only in prima donnas and often an actual sign of mental
pathology.  Only sublimated and disguised forms like ``peer repute'',
``self-esteem'', ``professionalism'' or ``pride of accomplishment'' are
generally acceptable.</para>

<para>I could write an entire other essay on the unhealthy roots of this
part of our cultural inheritance, and the astonishing amount of
self-deceptive harm we do by believing (against all the evidence of
psychology and behavior) that we ever have truly `selfless' motives.
Perhaps I would, if Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche and Ayn Rand had not
already done an entirely competent job (whatever their other failings)
of deconstructing `altruism' into unacknowledged kinds of
self-interest.</para>

<para>But I am not doing moral philosophy or psychology here, so I will
simply observe one minor kind of harm done by the belief that ego is
evil, which is this: it has made it emotionally difficult for many
hackers to consciously understand the social dynamics of their own
culture!</para>

<para>But we are not quite done with this line of investigation.  The
surrounding culture's taboo against visibly ego-driven behavior is so
much intensified in the hacker (sub)culture that one must suspect it
of having some sort of special adaptive function for hackers.
Certainly the taboo is weaker (or nonexistent) among many other gift
cultures, such as the peer cultures of theater people or the very
wealthy.</para>

</sect1>
<sect1><title>The Value of Humility</title>

<para>Having established that prestige is central to the hacker culture's
reward mechanisms, we now need to understand why it has seemed so
important that this fact remain semi-covert and largely unadmitted.</para>

<para>The contrast with the pirate culture is instructive.  In that culture,
status-seeking behavior is overt and even blatant.  These crackers
seek acclaim for releasing ``zero-day warez'' (cracked software
redistributed on the day of the original uncracked version's release)
but are closemouthed about how they do it. These magicians don't like
to give away their tricks.  And, as a result, the knowledge base of
the cracker culture as a whole increases only slowly.</para>

<para>In the hacker community, by contrast, one's work is one's
statement.  There's a very strict meritocracy (the best craftsmanship
wins) and there's a strong ethos that quality should (indeed
<emphasis>must</emphasis>) be left to speak for itself.  The best brag
is code that ``just works'', and that any competent programmer can see
is good stuff.  Thus, the hacker culture's knowledge base increases
rapidly.</para>

<para>The taboo against ego-driven posturing therefore increases productivity.
But that's a second-order effect; what is being directly protected
here is the quality of the information in the community's
peer-evaluation system.  That is, boasting or self-importance is
suppressed because it behaves like noise tending to corrupt the vital
signals from experiments in creative and cooperative behavior.</para>

<para>For very similar reasons, attacking the author rather than the code is
not done.  There is an interesting subtlety here that reinforces the
point; hackers feel very free to flame each other over ideological and
personal differences, but it is unheard of for any hacker to publicly
attack another's competence at technical work (even private criticism
is unusual and tends to be muted in tone).  Bug-hunting and criticism
are always project-labeled, not person-labeled.</para>

<para>Furthermore, past bugs are not automatically held against a
developer; the fact that a bug has been fixed is generally considered
more important than the fact that one used to be there.  As one
respondent observed, one can gain status by fixing `Emacs bugs', but
not by fixing `Richard Stallman's bugs'&mdash;and it would be considered
extremely bad form to criticize Stallman for <emphasis>old</emphasis>
Emacs bugs that have since been fixed.</para>

<para>This makes an interesting contrast with many parts of academia, in
which trashing putatively defective work by others is an important
mode of gaining reputation.  In the hacker culture, such behavior
is rather heavily tabooed&mdash;so heavily, in fact, that the
absence of such behavior did not present itself to me as a datum until
that one respondent with an unusual perspective pointed it out nearly
a full year after this essay was first published!</para>

<para>The taboo against attacks on competence (not shared with academia) is
even more revealing than the (shared) taboo on posturing, because we
can relate it to a difference between academia and hackerdom in their
communications and support structures.</para>

<para>The hacker culture's medium of gifting is intangible, its
communications channels are poor at expressing emotional nuance, and
face-to-face contact among its members is the exception rather than
the rule.  This gives it a lower tolerance of noise than most other
gift cultures, and goes a long way to explain both the taboo against
posturing and the taboo against attacks on competence.  Any
significant incidence of flames over hackers' competence would
intolerably disrupt the culture's reputation scoreboard.</para>

<para>The same vulnerability to noise explains the model of public
humility required of the hacker community's tribal elders.  They must
be seen to be free of boast and posturing so the taboo against
dangerous noise will hold. <link linkend="dc">[DC]</link></para>

<para>Talking softly is also functional if one aspires to be a
maintainer of a successful project; one must convince the community
that one has good judgement, because most of the maintainer's job is
going to be judging other people's code.  Who would be inclined to
contribute work to someone who clearly can't judge the quality of
their own code, or whose behavior suggests they will attempt to
unfairly hog the reputation return from the project?  Potential
contributors want project leaders with enough humility and class to be
able to to say, when objectively appropriate, ``Yes, that does work
better than my version, I'll use it''&mdash;and to give credit where
credit is due.</para>

<para>Yet another reason for humble behavior is that in the open source
world, you seldom want to give the impression that a project is
`done'.  This might lead a potential contributor not to feel needed.
The way to maximize your leverage is to be humble about the state of
the program. If one does one's bragging through the code, and then says
``Well shucks, it doesn't do x, y, and z, so it can't be that good'',
patches for x, y, and z will often swiftly follow.</para>

<para>Finally, I have personally observed that the self-deprecating behavior
of some leading hackers reflects a real (and not unjustified) fear of
becoming the object of a personality cult.  Linus Torvalds and Larry
Wall both provide clear and numerous examples of such avoidance
behavior.  Once, on a dinner expedition with Larry Wall, I joked
``You're the alpha hacker here&mdash;you get to pick the restaurant''.
He flinched noticeably.  And rightly so; failing to distinguish their
shared values from the personalities of their leaders has ruined a
good many voluntary communities, a pattern of which Larry and Linus
cannot fail to be fully aware.  On the other hand, most hackers would
love to have Larry's problem, if they could but bring themselves to
admit it.</para>

</sect1>
<sect1><title>Global Implications of the Reputation-Game Model</title>

<para>The reputation-game analysis has some more implications that may not
be immediately obvious.  Many of these derive from the fact that one
gains more prestige from founding a successful project than from
cooperating in an existing one.  One also gains more from projects
that are strikingly innovative, as opposed to being `me, too'
incremental improvements on software that already exists.  On the
other hand, software that nobody but the author understands or has a
need for is a non-starter in the reputation game, and it's often
easier to attract good notice by contributing to an existing project
than it is to get people to notice a new one.  Finally, it's much
harder to compete with an already successful project than it is to
fill an empty niche.</para>

<para>Thus, there's an optimum distance from one's neighbors (the most
similar competing projects).  Too close and one's product will be a
``me, too!'' of limited value, a poor gift (one would be better off
contributing to an existing project).  Too far away, and nobody will
be able to use, understand, or perceive the relevance of one's effort
(again, a poor gift).  This creates a pattern of homesteading in the
noosphere that rather resembles that of settlers spreading into a
physical frontier&mdash;not random, but like a diffusion-limited
fractal. Projects tend to get started to fill functional gaps near the
frontier (see <link linkend="no">[NO]</link> for further discussion of
the lure of novelty).</para>

<para>Some very successful projects become `category killers'; nobody
wants to homestead anywhere near them because competing against the
established base for the attention of hackers would be too hard.
People who might otherwise found their own distinct efforts end up,
instead, adding extensions for these big, successful projects.
The classic `category killer' example is GNU Emacs; its variants fill the
ecological niche for a fully-programmable editor so completely that
no competitor has gotten much beyond the one-man project stage
since the early 1980s.  Instead, people write Emacs modes.</para>

<para>Globally, these two tendencies (gap-filling and category-killers) 
have driven a broadly predictable trend in project starts over time.
In the 1970s most of the open source that existed was toys and demos.
In the 1980s the push was in development and Internet tools.  In
the 1990s the action shifted to operating systems.  In each case, 
a new and more difficult level of problems was attacked when the
possibilities of the previous one had been nearly exhausted.</para>

<para>This trend has interesting implications for the near future.  In early
1998, Linux looks very much like a category-killer for the niche
`open-source operating systems'&mdash;people who might otherwise write
competing operating systems are now writing Linux device drivers and
extensions instead.  And most of the lower-level tools the culture
ever imagined having as open source already exist.  What's left?</para>

<para>Applications.  As the third millenium begins, it seems safe to
predict that open-source development effort will increasingly shift
towards the last virgin territory&mdash;programs for non-techies.  A
clear early indicator was the development of <ulink
url="http://www.gimp.org">GIMP</ulink>, the Photoshop-like image
workshop that is open source's first major application with the kind
of end-user&ndash;friendly GUI interface considered <emphasis>de
rigueur</emphasis> in commercial applications for the last decade.
Another is the amount of buzz surrounding application-toolkit projects
like <ulink url="http://www.kde.org">KDE</ulink> and <ulink
url="http://www.gnome.org">GNOME</ulink>.</para>

<para>A respondent to this essay has pointed out that the homesteading
analogy also explains why hackers react with such visceral anger to
Microsoft's ``embrace and extend'' policy of complexifying and then
closing up Internet protocols.  The hacker culture can coexist with
most closed software; the existence of Adobe Photoshop, for example,
does not make the territory near GIMP (its open-source equivalent)
significantly less attractive.  But when Microsoft succeeds at
de-commoditizing <link linkend="HD">[HD]</link> a protocol so that
only Microsoft's own programmers can write software for it, they do
not merely harm customers by extending their monopoly; they also
reduce the amount and quality of noosphere available for hackers to
homestead and cultivate.  No wonder hackers often refer to Microsoft's
strategy as ``protocol pollution''; they are reacting exactly like
farmers watching someone poison the river they water their crops
with!</para>

<para>Finally, the reputation-game analysis explains the oft-cited
dictum that you do not become a hacker by calling yourself a
hacker&mdash;you become a hacker when <emphasis>other
hackers</emphasis> call you a hacker <link linkend="KN">[KN]</link>.
A `hacker', considered in this light, is somebody who has shown (by
contributing gifts) that he or she both has technical ability and
understands how the reputation game works.  This judgement is mostly
one of awareness and acculturation, and can be delivered only by those
already well inside the culture.</para>

</sect1>
<sect1><title>How Fine a Gift? </title>

<para>There are consistent patterns in the way the hacker culture values
contributions and returns peer esteem for them.  It's not hard to
observe the following rules:</para>

<blockquote><para>1. If it doesn't work as well as I have been led
to expect it will, it's no good&mdash;no matter how clever and original
it is.</para></blockquote>

<para>Note the phrase `led to expect'.  This rule is not a demand for
perfection; beta and experimental software is allowed to have bugs.
It's a demand that the user be able to accurately estimate risks from
the stage of the project and the developers' representations about
it.</para>

<para>This rule underlies the fact that open-source software tends to stay
in beta for a long time, and not get even a 1.0 version number until
the developers are very sure it will not hand out a lot of nasty
surprises.  In the closed-source world, Version 1.0 means ``Don't
touch this if you're prudent.''; in the open-source world it reads
something more like ``The developers are willing to bet their
reputations on this.''</para>

<blockquote><para>2. Work that extends the noosphere is better than
work that duplicates an existing piece of functional
territory.</para></blockquote>

<para>The naive way to put this would have been: <emphasis>Original
work is better than mere duplication of the functions of existing
software.</emphasis> But it's not actually quite that simple.
Duplicating the functions of existing <emphasis>closed</emphasis>
software counts as highly as original work if by doing so you break
open a closed protocol or format and make that territory newly
available.</para>

<para>Thus, for example, one of the highest-prestige projects in the present
open-source world is Samba&mdash;the code that allows Unix machines to
act as clients or servers for Microsoft's proprietary SMB file-sharing
protocol.  There is very little creative work to be done here; it's
mostly an issue of getting the reverse-engineered details right.
Nevertheless, the members of the Samba group are perceived as heroes
because they neutralize a Microsoft effort to lock in whole user
populations and cordon off a big section of the noosphere.</para>

<blockquote><para>3. Work that makes it into a major distribution
is better than work that doesn't.  Work carried in all major
distributions is most prestigious.</para></blockquote>

<para>The major distributions include not just the big Linux distributions
like Red Hat, Debian, Caldera, and SuSE., but other collections
that are understood to have reputations of their own to maintain and
thus implicitly certify quality &mdash;like BSD distributions or the Free
Software Foundation source collection.</para>

<blockquote><para>4. Utilization is the sincerest form of
flattery&mdash;and category killers are better than
also-rans.</para></blockquote>

<para>Trusting the judgment of others is basic to the peer-review
process.  It's necessary because nobody has time to review all
possible alternatives.  So work used by lots of people is considered
better than work used by a few,</para>

<para>To have done work so good that nobody cares to use the alternatives
any more is therefore to have earned huge prestige.  The most possible
peer esteem comes from having done widely popular, category-killing
original work that is carried by all major distributions.  People who
have pulled this off more than once are half-seriously referred to as
`demigods'.</para>

<blockquote><para>5. Continued devotion to hard, boring work (like
debugging, or writing documentation) is more praiseworthy than
cherrypicking the fun and easy hacks.</para></blockquote>

<para>This norm is how the community rewards necessary tasks that hackers
would not naturally incline towards.  It is to some extent
contradicted by:</para>

<blockquote><para>6. Nontrivial extensions of function are better
than low-level patches and debugging.</para></blockquote>

<para>The way this seems to work is that on a one-shot basis, adding a
feature is likely to get more reward than fixing a bug&mdash;unless
the bug is exceptionally nasty or obscure, such that nailing it is
itself a demonstration of unusual skill and cleverness.  But when these 
behaviors are extended over time, a person with a long history of
paying attention to and nailing even ordinary bugs may well out-rank
someone who has spent a similar amount of effort adding easy features.</para>

<para>A respondent has pointed out that these rules interact in
interesting ways and do not necessarily reward highest possible
utility all the time.  Ask a hacker whether he's likely to become
better known for a brand new tool of his own or for extensions to
someone else's and the answer ``new tool'' will not be in doubt.  But
ask about (a) a brand new tool which is only used a few times a day
invisibly by the OS but which rapidly becomes a category killer,
versus (b) several extensions to an existing tool which are neither
especially novel nor category-killers, but are daily used and daily
visible to a huge number of users</para>

<para>and you are likely to get some hesitation before the hacker settles on
(a).  These alternatives are about evenly stacked.</para>

<para>Said respondent gave this question point for me by adding ``Case
(a) is fetchmail; case (b) is your many Emacs extensions, like
<filename>vc.el</filename> and <filename>gud.el</filename>.''  And
indeed he is correct; I am more likely to be tagged ``the author of
fetchmail'' than ``author of a boatload of Emacs modes'', even though the
latter probably have had higher total utility over time.</para>

<para>What may be going on here is simply that work with a novel `brand
identity' gets more notice than work aggregated to an existing
`brand'.  Elucidation of these rules, and what they tell us about the
hacker culture's scoreboarding system, would make a good topic for
further investigation.</para>

</sect1>
<sect1><title>Noospheric Property and the Ethology of Territory</title>

<para>To understand the causes and consequences of Lockean property customs,
it will help us to look at them from yet another angle; that of animal
ethology, specifically the ethology of territory.</para>

<para>Property is an abstraction of animal territoriality, which evolved as
a way of reducing intraspecies violence.  By marking his bounds, and
respecting the bounds of others, a wolf diminishes his chances of
being in a fight that could weaken or kill him and make him less
reproductively successful.  Similarly, the function of property in
human societies is to prevent inter-human conflict by setting bounds
that clearly separate peaceful behavior from aggression.</para>

<para>It is fashionable in some circles to describe human property as an
arbitrary social convention, but this is dead wrong.  Anybody who has
ever owned a dog who barked when strangers came near its owner's
property has experienced the essential continuity between animal
territoriality and human property.  Our domesticated cousins of the
wolf know, instinctively, that property is no mere social convention
or game, but a critically important evolved mechanism for the
avoidance of violence.  (This makes them smarter than a good many human
political theorists.)</para>

<para>Claiming property (like marking territory) is a performative act, a
way of declaring what boundaries will be defended.  Community support
of property claims is a way to minimize friction and maximize
cooperative behavior.  These things remain true even when the
``property claim'' is much more abstract than a fence or a dog's bark,
even when it's just the statement of the project maintainer's name in
a README file.  It's still an abstraction of territoriality, and (like
other forms of property) based in territorial instincts evolved to
assist conflict resolution.</para>

<para>This ethological analysis may at first seem very abstract and
difficult to relate to actual hacker behavior.  But it has some
important consequences. One is in explaining the popularity of World
Wide Web sites, and especially why open-source projects with websites
seem so much more `real' and substantial than those without
them.</para>

<para>Considered objectively, this seems hard to explain.  Compared to the
effort involved in originating and maintaining even a small program,
a web page is easy, so it's hard to consider a web page evidence
of substance or unusual effort.</para>

<para>Nor are the functional characteristics of the Web itself sufficient
explanation.  The communication functions of a web page can be as well
or better served by a combination of an FTP site, a mailing list, and
Usenet postings.  In fact it's quite unusual for a project's routine
communications to be done over the Web rather than via a mailing list
or newsgroup.  Why, then, the popularity of websites as project
homes?</para>

<para>The metaphor implicit in the term `home page' provides an important
clue.  While founding an open-source project is a territorial claim
in the noosphere (and customarily recognized as such) it is not a
terribly compelling one on the psychological level.  Software, after
all, has no natural location and is instantly reduplicable.  It's
assimilable to our instinctive notions of `territory' and `property',
but only after some effort.</para>

<para>A project home page concretizes an abstract homesteading in the space
of possible programs by expressing it as `home' territory in the more
spatially-organized realm of the World Wide Web.  Descending from the
noosphere to `cyberspace' doesn't get us all the way to the real world
of fences and barking dogs yet, but it does hook the abstract property
claim more securely to our instinctive wiring about territory.  And
this is why projects with web pages seem more `real'.</para>

<para>This point is much strengthened by hyperlinks and the existence of
good search engines.  A project with a web page is much more
likely to be noticed by somebody exploring its neighborhood in the
noosphere; others will link to it, searches will find it.  A web page
is therefore a better advertisement, a more effective performative
act, a stronger claim on territory.</para>

<para>This ethological analysis also encourages us to look more closely
at mechanisms for handling conflict in the open-source culture. It
leads us to expect that, in addition to maximizing reputation
incentives, ownership customs should also have a role in preventing
and resolving conflicts.</para>

</sect1>
<sect1><title>Causes of Conflict</title>

<para>In conflicts over open-source software we can identify four
major issues:</para>

<itemizedlist>
<listitem><para> Who gets to make binding decisions about a
project?</para></listitem>

<listitem><para> Who gets credit or blame for what?</para></listitem>

<listitem><para> How to reduce duplication of effort and prevent rogue
       versions from complicating bug tracking?</para></listitem>

<listitem><para> What is the Right Thing, technically
speaking?</para></listitem>
</itemizedlist>

<para>If we take a second look at the ``What is the Right Thing'' issue,
however, it tends to vanish.  For any such question, either there is
an objective way to decide it accepted by all parties or there isn't.
If there is, game over and everybody wins.  If there isn't, it reduces
to ``Who decides?''.</para>

<para>Accordingly, the three problems a conflict-resolution theory has to
resolve about a project are (a) where the buck stops on design
decisions, (b) how to decide which contributors are credited and how,
and (c) how to keep a project group and product from fissioning into
multiple branches.</para>

<para>The role of ownership customs in resolving issues (a) and (c) is
clear.  Custom affirms that the owners of the project make the binding
decisions.  We have previously observed that custom also exerts heavy
pressure against dilution of ownership by forking.</para>

<para>It's instructive to notice that these customs make sense even if one
forgets the reputation game and examines them from within a pure
`craftmanship' model of the hacker culture.  In this view these
customs have less to do with the dilution of reputation incentives
than with protecting a craftsman's right to execute his vision in his
chosen way.</para>

<para>The craftsmanship model is not, however, sufficient to explain
hacker customs about issue (b), who gets credit for what&mdash;because a
pure craftsman, one unconcerned with the reputation game, would have
no motive to care.  To analyze these, we need to take the Lockean
theory one step further and examine conflicts and the operation of
property rights <emphasis>within</emphasis> projects as well as
<emphasis>between</emphasis> them.</para>

</sect1>
<sect1><title>Project Structures and Ownership</title>

<para>The trivial case is that in which the project has a single
owner/maintainer.  In that case there is no possible conflict.  The
owner makes all decisions and collects all credit and blame.  The only
possible conflicts are over succession issues&mdash;who gets to be the
new owner if the old one disappears or loses interest.  The community
also has an interest, under issue (c), in preventing forking.  These
interests are expressed by a cultural norm that an owner/maintainer
should publicly hand title to someone if he or she can no longer
maintain the project.</para>

<para>The simplest non-trivial case is when a project has multiple
co-maintainers working under a single `benevolent dictator' who owns
the project.  Custom favors this mode for group projects; it has been
shown to work on projects as large as the Linux kernel or Emacs, and
solves the ``who decides'' problem in a way that is not obviously worse
than any of the alternatives.</para>

<para>Typically, a benevolent-dictator organization evolves from an
owner-maintainer organization as the founder attracts contributors.
Even if the owner stays dictator, it introduces a new level of possible
disputes over who gets credited for what parts of the project.</para>

<para>In this situation, custom places an obligation on the owner/dictator
to credit contributors fairly (through, for example, appropriate
mentions in README or history files).  In terms of the Lockean property
model, this means that by contributing to a project you earn
part of its reputation return (positive or negative).</para>

<para>Pursuing this logic, we see that a `benevolent dictator' does not in
fact own his entire project absolutely.  Though he has the right
to make binding decisions, he in effect trades away shares of the
total reputation return in exchange for others' work.  The analogy with
sharecropping on a farm is almost irresistible, except that a
contributor's name stays in the credits and continues to `earn' to
some degree even after that contributor is no longer active.</para>

<para>As benevolent-dictator projects add more participants, they tend to
develop two tiers of contributors; ordinary contributors and
co-developers.  A typical path to becoming a co-developer is taking
responsibility for a major subsystem of the project.  Another is to
take the role of `lord high fixer', characterizing and fixing many
bugs.  In this way or others, co-developers are the contributors who 
make a substantial and continuing investment of time in the project.</para>

<para>The subsystem-owner role is particularly important for our analysis
and deserves further examination.  Hackers like to say that `authority
follows responsibility'. A co-developer who accepts maintainance
responsibility for a given subsystem generally gets to control both
the implementation of that subsystem and its interfaces with the rest
of the project, subject only to correction by the project leader
(acting as architect). We observe that this rule effectively creates
enclosed properties on the Lockean model within a project, and has
exactly the same conflict-prevention role as other property
boundaries.</para>

<para>By custom, the `dictator' or project leader in a project with
co-developers is expected to consult with those co-developers on key
decisions.  This is especially so if the decision concerns a subsystem
that a co-developer `owns' (that is, has invested time in and taken
responsibility for).  A wise leader, recognizing the function of the
project's internal property boundaries, will not lightly interfere
with or reverse decisions made by subsystem owners.</para>

<para>Some very large projects discard the `benevolent dictator' model
entirely. One way to do this is turn the co-developers into a voting
committee (as with Apache).  Another is rotating dictatorship, in
which control is occasionally passed from one member to another within
a circle of senior co-developers; the Perl developers organize
themselves this way.</para>

<para>Such complicated arrangements are widely considered unstable and
difficult.  Clearly this perceived difficulty is largely a function of
the known hazards of design-by-committee, and of committees
themselves; these are problems the hacker culture consciously
understands.  However, I think some of the visceral discomfort hackers
feel about committee or rotating-chair organizations is that
they're hard to fit into the unconscious Lockean model hackers use for
reasoning about the simpler cases.  It's problematic, in these complex
organizations, to do an accounting of either ownership in the sense of
control or ownership of reputation returns.  It's hard to see where
the internal boundaries are, and thus hard to avoid conflict unless
the group enjoys an exceptionally high level of harmony and trust.</para>

</sect1>
<sect1><title>Conflict and Conflict Resolution</title>

<para>We've seen that within projects, an increasing complexity of roles is
expressed by a distribution of design authority and partial property
rights.  While this is an efficient way to distribute incentives, it
also dilutes the authority of the project leader&mdash;most importantly,
it dilutes the leader's authority to squash potential conflicts.</para>

<para>While technical arguments over design might seem the most obvious risk
for internecine conflict, they are seldom a serious cause of strife.
These are usually relatively easily resolved by the territorial rule
that authority follows responsibility.</para>

<para>Another way of resolving conflicts is by seniority&mdash;if two
contributors or groups of contributors have a dispute, and the dispute
cannot be resolved objectively, and neither owns the territory of the
dispute, the side that has put the most work into the project as a
whole (that is, the side with the most property rights in the whole
project) wins.</para>

<para>(Equivalently, the side with the least invested loses.  Interestingly
this happens to be the same heuristic that many relational database
engines use to resolve deadlocks.  When two threads are deadlocked over
resources, the side with the least invested in the current transaction
is selected as the deadlock victim and is terminated.  This usually
selects the longest running transaction, or the more senior, as the
victor.)</para>

<para>These rules generally suffice to resolve most project disputes.  When
they do not, fiat of the project leader usually suffices.  Disputes
that survive both these filters are rare.</para>

<para>Conflicts do not, as a rule, become serious unless these two criteria
("authority follows responsibility" and "seniority wins") point in
different directions, <emphasis>and</emphasis> the authority of the project
leader is weak or absent.  The most obvious case in which this may
occur is a succession dispute following the disappearance of the
project lead.  I have been in one fight of this kind.  It was ugly,
painful, protracted, only resolved when all parties became exhausted
enough to hand control to an outside person, and I devoutly hope I am
never anywhere near anything of the kind again.</para>

<para>Ultimately, all of these conflict-resolution mechanisms rest on the
entire hacker community's willingness to enforce them.  The only available
enforcement mechanisms are flaming and shunning&mdash;public condemnation
of those who break custom, and refusal to cooperate with them after
they have done so.</para>

</sect1>
<sect1><title>Acculturation Mechanisms and the Link to Academia</title>

<para>An early version of this essay posed the following research question:
how does the community inform and instruct its members as to its
customs?  Are the customs self-evident or self-organizing at a
semi-conscious level?  Are they taught by example?  Are they taught by
explicit instruction?</para>

<para>Teaching by explicit instruction is clearly rare, if only
because few explicit descriptions of the culture's norms have existed
for instructional use up to now.</para>

<para>Many norms are taught by example.  To cite one very simple case, there
is a norm that every software distribution should have a file called
README or READ.ME that contains first-look instructions for browsing
the distribution.  This convention has been well established since at
least the early 1980s; it has even, occasionally, been written down.
But one normally derives it from looking at many distributions.</para>

<para>On the other hand, some hacker customs are self-organizing once one has
acquired a basic (perhaps unconscious) understanding of the reputation
game.  Most hackers never have to be taught the three taboos I listed
earlier in this essay, or at least would claim if asked that they are
self-evident rather than transmitted.  This phenomenon invites
closer analysis&mdash;and perhaps we can find its explanation in the
process by which hackers acquire knowledge about the culture.</para>

<para>Many cultures use hidden clues (more precisely `mysteries' in the
religio/mystical sense) as an acculturation mechanism.  These are
secrets that are not revealed to outsiders, but are expected to be
discovered or deduced by the aspiring newbie.  To be accepted inside,
one must demonstrate that one both understands the mystery and has
learned it in a culturally sanctioned way.</para>

<para>The hacker culture makes unusually conscious and extensive use of such
clues or tests.  We can see this process operating at at least three
levels:</para>

<itemizedlist> 
<listitem><para>
Password-like specific mysteries. As one example, there is a Usenet
newsgroup called alt.sysadmin.recovery that has a very explicit such
secret; you cannot post without knowing it, and knowing it is
considered evidence you are fit to post.  The regulars have a strong
taboo against revealing this secret.</para></listitem>

<listitem><para>
The requirement of initiation into certain technical mysteries. One
must absorb a good deal of technical knowledge before one can give
valued gifts (e.g. one must know at least one of the major computer
languages).  This requirement functions in the large in the way hidden
clues do in the small, as a filter for qualities (such as capability
for abstract thinking, persistence, and mental flexibility) that are
necessary to function in the culture.</para></listitem>

<listitem><para>
Social-context mysteries.  One becomes involved in the culture through
attaching oneself to specific projects.  Each project is a live social
context of hackers that the would-be contributor has to investigate
and understand socially as well as technically in order to
function. (Concretely, a common way one does this is by reading the
project's web pages and/or email archives.) It is through these project
groups that newbies experience the behavioral example of experienced
hackers.</para></listitem>
</itemizedlist>

<para>In the process of acquiring these mysteries, the would-be hacker
picks up contextual knowledge that (after a while) does make the
three taboos and other customs seem `self-evident'.</para>

<para>One might, incidentally, argue that the structure of the hacker gift
culture itself is its own central mystery.  One is not considered
acculturated (concretely: no one will call you a hacker) until one
demonstrates a gut-level understanding of the reputation game and its
implied customs, taboos, and usages.  But this is trivial; all
cultures demand such understanding from would-be joiners.  Furthermore
the hacker culture evinces no desire to have its internal logic and
folkways kept secret&mdash;or, at least, nobody has ever flamed me
for revealing them!</para>

<para>Respondents to this essay too numerous to list have pointed out that
hacker ownership customs seem intimately related to (and may derive
directly from) the practices of the academic world, especially the
scientific research commmunity.  This research community has similar
problems in mining a territory of potentially productive ideas, and
exhibits very similar adaptive solutions to those problems in the ways
it uses peer review and reputation.</para>

<para>Since many hackers have had formative exposure to academia (it's
common to learn how to hack while in college) the extent to which
academia shares adaptive patterns with the hacker culture is of more
than casual interest in understanding how these customs are
applied.</para>

<para>Obvious parallels with the hacker `gift culture' as I have
characterized it abound in academia.  Once a researcher achieves
tenure, there is no need to worry about survival issues. (Indeed, the
concept of tenure can probably be traced back to an earlier gift
culture in which ``natural philosophers'' were primarily wealthy
gentlemen with time on their hands to devote to research.)  In the
absence of survival issues, reputation enhancement becomes the driving
goal, which encourages sharing of new ideas and research through
journals and other media. This makes objective functional sense
because scientific research, like the hacker culture, relies heavily
on the idea of `standing upon the shoulders of giants', and not having
to rediscover basic principles over and over again.</para>

<para>Some have gone so far as to suggest that hacker customs are merely a
reflection of the research community's folkways and have actually (in
most cases) been acquired there by individual hackers.  This probably
overstates the case, if only because hacker custom seems to be readily
acquired by intelligent high-schoolers!</para>

</sect1>
<sect1><title>Gift Outcompetes Exchange</title>

<para>There is a more interesting possibility here.  I suspect
academia and the hacker culture share adaptive patterns not because
they're genetically related, but because they've both evolved the one
most optimal social organization for what they're trying to do, given
the laws of nature and the instinctive wiring of human beings.
The verdict of history seems to be that free-market capitalism is the
globally optimal way to cooperate for economic efficiency; perhaps, in
a similar way, the reputation-game gift culture is the globally
optimal way to cooperate for generating (and checking!) high-quality
creative work.</para>

<para>Support for this theory becomes from a large body of
psychological studies on the interaction between art and reward <link
linkend="GNU">[GNU]</link>.  These studies have received less
attention than they should, in part perhaps because their popularizers
have shown a tendency to overinterpret them into general attacks
against the free market and intellectual property.  Nevertheless,
their results do suggest that some kinds of scarcity-economics rewards
actually decrease the productivity of creative workers such as
programmers.</para>

<para>Psychologist Theresa Amabile of Brandeis University, cautiously
summarizing the results of a 1984 study of motivation and reward,
observed ``It may be that commissioned work will, in general, be less
creative than work that is done out of pure interest.''.  Amabile goes
on to observe that ``The more complex the activity, the more it's hurt
by extrinsic reward.''  Interestingly, the studies suggest that
flat salaries don't demotivate, but piecework rates and bonuses do.</para>

<para>Thus, it may be economically smart to give performance bonuses to
people who flip burgers or dug ditches, but it's probably smarter to
decouple salary from performance in a programming shop and let
people choose their own projects (both trends that the open-source
world takes to their logical conclusions).  Indeed, these results
suggest that the only time it is a good idea to reward performance
in programming is when the programmer is so motivated that he
or she would have worked without the reward!</para>

<para>Other researchers in the field are willing to point a finger
straight at the issues of autonomy and creative control that so
preoccupy hackers. ``To the extent one's experience of being
self-determined is limited,'' said Richard Ryan, associate
psychology professor at the University of Rochester, ``one's
creativity will be reduced as well.''</para>

<para>In general, presenting any task as a means rather than an end in
itself seems to demotivate.  Even winning a competition with others or
gaining peer esteem can be demotivating in this way if the victory is
experienced as work for reward (which may explain why hackers are
culturally prohibited from explicitly seeking or claiming that
esteem).</para>

<para>To complicate the management problem further, controlling verbal
feedback seems to be just as demotivating as piecework payment.  Ryan
found that corporate employees who were told, ``Good, you're doing as
you <emphasis>should</emphasis>'' were ``significantly less intrinsically
motivated than those who received feedback informationally.''</para>

<para>It may still be intelligent to offer incentives, but they have to come
without attachments to avoid gumming up the works.  There is a critical
difference (Ryan observes) between saying, ``I'm giving you this
reward because I recognize the value of your work'', and ``You're
getting this reward because you've lived up to my standards.'' The
first does not demotivate; the second does.</para>

<para>In these psychological observations we can ground a case that an
open-source development group will be substantially more productive
(especially over the long term, in which creativity becomes more
critical as a productivity multiplier) than an equivalently sized and
skilled group of closed-source programmers (de)motivated by scarcity
rewards.</para>

<para>This suggests from a slightly different angle one of the
speculations in <citetitle>The Cathedral And The Bazaar</citetitle>;
that, ultimately, the industrial/factory mode of software production
was doomed to be outcompeted from the moment capitalism began to
create enough of a wealth surplus that many programmers could live in
a post-scarcity gift culture.</para>

<para>Indeed, it seems the prescription for highest software
productivity is almost a Zen paradox; if you want the most efficient
production, you must give up trying to <emphasis>make</emphasis>
programmers produce.  Handle their subsistence, give them their heads,
and forget about deadlines.  To a conventional manager this sounds
crazily indulgent and doomed&mdash;but it is <emphasis>exactly</emphasis>
the recipe with which the open-source culture is now clobbering its
competition.</para>

</sect1>
<sect1><title>Conclusion: From Custom to Customary Law</title>

<para>We have examined the customs which regulate the ownership and control
of open-source software.  We have seen how they imply an underlying
theory of property rights homologous to the Lockean theory of land
tenure.  We have related that to an analysis of the hacker culture
as a `gift culture' in which participants compete for prestige
by giving time, energy, and creativity away.  We have examined the
implications of this analysis for conflict resolution in the culture.</para>

<para>The next logical question to ask is "Why does this matter?"  Hackers
developed these customs without conscious analysis and (up to now)
have followed them without conscious analysis.  It's not immediately
clear that conscious analysis has gained us anything practical&mdash;unless,
perhaps, we can move from description to prescription and deduce ways
to improve the functioning of these customs.</para>

<para>We have found a close logical analogy for hacker customs in the theory
of land tenure under the Anglo-American common-law tradition.
Historically <link linkend="miller">[Miller]</link>, the European tribal
cultures that invented this tradition improved their
dispute-resolution systems by moving from a system of unarticulated,
semi-conscious custom to a body of explicit customary law memorized by
tribal wisemen&mdash;and eventually, written down.</para>

<para>Perhaps, as our population rises and acculturation of all new members
becomes more difficult, it is time for the hacker culture to do
something analogous&mdash;to develop written codes of good practice for
resolving the various sorts of disputes that can arise in connection
with open-source projects, and a tradition of arbitration in which
senior members of the community may be asked to mediate disputes.</para>

<para>The analysis in this essay suggests the outlines of what such a code
might look like, making explicit that which was previously implicit.
No such codes could be imposed from above; they would have to be
voluntarily adopted by the founders or owners of individual projects.
Nor could they be completely rigid, as the pressures on the culture
are likely to change over time.  Finally, for enforcement of such
codes to work, they would have to reflect a broad consensus of the
hacker tribe.</para>

<!-- %%BEGIN STANDALONE%% -->
<para>I have begun work on such a code, tentatively titled the "Malvern
Protocol" after the little town where I live.  If the general analysis
in this paper becomes sufficiently widely accepted, I will make the Malvern
Protocol publicly available as a model code for dispute resolution.
Parties interested in critiquing and developing this code, or just
offering feedback on whether they think it's a good idea or not, are
invited to <ulink url="mailto:esr@thyrsus.com">contact me by
email</ulink>.</para>
<!-- %%END STANDALONE%% -->

</sect1>
<sect1><title>Questions for Further Research</title>

<para>The culture's (and my own) understanding of large projects that don't
follow a benevolent-dictator model is weak.  Most such projects fail.
A few become spectacularly successful and important (Perl, Apache,
KDE).  Nobody really understands where the difference lies.  There's
a vague sense abroad that each such project is <emphasis>sui generis</emphasis>
and stands or falls on the group dynamic of its particular members,
but is this true or are there replicable strategies that a group can
follow?</para>

</sect1>

<!-- %%BEGIN ENDNOTES -->
<sect1><title>Notes</title>

<para><anchor id="N"/><emphasis>[N]</emphasis> The term `noosphere' is
an obscure term of art in philosophy.  It is pronounced KNOW-uh-sfeer
(two o-sounds, one long and stressed, one short and unstressed tending
towards schwa). If one is being excruciatingly correct about one's
orthography, the term is properly spelled with a diaeresis over the
second `o' to mark it as a separate vowel.</para>

<para>In more detail; this term for ``the sphere of human thought''
derives from the Greek `noos' meaning `mind', `intelligence', or `perception'.
It was invented by E. LeRoy in <emphasis>Les origines humaines et
l'evolution de l'intelligence</emphasis> (Paris 1928).  It was
popularized first by the Russian biologist and pioneering ecologist
Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky, (1863&ndash;1945), then by the Jesuit
paleontologist/philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
(1881&ndash;1955).  It is with Teilhard de Chardin's theory of future human
evolution to a form of pure mind culminating in union with the Godhead
that the term is now primarily associated.</para>

<para><anchor id="DF"/><emphasis>[DF]</emphasis>
David Friedman, one of the most lucid and accessible thinkers in
contemporary economics, has written an excellent 
<ulink url="http://www.best.com/~ddfr/Academic/Course_Pages/L_and_E_LS_98/Why_Is_Law/Why_Is_Law_Chapter_11.html">outline</ulink>
of the
history and logic of intellectual-property law.  I recommend it as a
starting point to anyone interested in these issues.</para>

<para><anchor id="BSD"/><emphasis>[BSD]</emphasis>
One interesting difference between the Linux and BSD worlds is that
the Linux kernel (and associated OS core utilities) have never forked,
but BSD's has, at least three times.  What makes this interesting is
that the social structure of the BSD groups is centralized in a way
intended to define clear lines of authority and to prevent forking, while
the decentralized and amorphous Linux community takes no such
measures.  It appears that the projects which open up development
the most actually have the <emphasis>least</emphasis> tendency to fork!</para>

<para>Henry Spencer <email>henry@spsystems.net</email> suggests that, in general, the
stability of a political system is inversely proportional to the
height of the entry barriers to its political process.  His analysis
is worth quoting here:</para>

<blockquote>
<para>One major strength of a relatively open democracy is that most potential 
revolutionaries find it easier to make progress toward their objectives by
working via the system rather by attacking it.  This strength is easily
undermined if established parties act together to `raise the bar', making
it more difficult for small dissatisfied groups to see <emphasis>some</emphasis> progress
made toward their goals.</para>

<para>(A similar principle can be found in economics.  Open markets have the
strongest competition, and generally the best and cheapest products.
Because of this, it's very much in the best interests of established
companies to make market entry more difficult&mdash;for example, by
convincing governments to require elaborate RFI testing on computers, or  
by creating `consensus' standards which are so complex that they cannot be
implemented effectively from scratch without large resources.  The markets
with the strongest entry barriers are the ones that come under the
strongest attack from revolutionaries, e.g. the Internet and the Justice
Dept. vs. the Bell System.)</para>

<para>An open process with low entry barriers encourages participation rather
than secession, because one can get results without the high overheads of
secession.  The results may not be as impressive as what could be achieved
by seceding, but they come at a lower price, and most people will consider
that an acceptable tradeoff.  (When the Spanish government revoked
Franco's anti-Basque laws and offered the Basque provinces their own
schools and limited local autonomy, most of the Basque Separatist movement
evaporated almost overnight.  Only the hard-core Marxists insisted that it
wasn't good enough.)</para>
</blockquote>

<para><anchor id="rp"/><emphasis>[RP]</emphasis>
There are some subtleties about rogue patches.  One can divide them
into `friendly' and `unfriendly' types.  A `friendly' patch is
designed to be merged back into the project's main-line sources under
the maintainer's control (whether or not that merge actually happens); an
`unfriendly' one is intended to yank the project in a direction the
maintainer doesn't approve.  Some projects (notably the Linux kernel
itself) are pretty relaxed about friendly patches and even encourage
independent distribution of them as part of their beta-test phase.
An unfriendly patch, on the other hand, represents a decision to
compete with the original and is a serious matter.  Maintaining a whole
raft of unfriendly patches tends to lead to forking.</para>

<para><anchor id="lw"/><emphasis>[LW]</emphasis>
I am indebted to Michael Funk <email>mwfunk@uncc.campus.mci.net</email> for
pointing out how instructive a contrast with hackers the pirate
culture is. Linus Walleij has posted an analysis of their cultural
dynamics that differs from mine (describing them as a scarcity
culture) in <ulink url="http://www.df.lth.se/~triad/papers/Raymond_D00dz.html">A Comment on `Warez D00dz' Culture</ulink>.</para>

<para>The contrast may not last.  Former cracker Andrej Brandt
<email>andy@pilgrim.cs.net.pl</email> reports that he believes the
cracker/warez d00dz culture is now withering away, with its brightest
people and leaders assimilating to the open-source world.  Independent
evidence for this view may be provided by a precedent-breaking July
1999 action of the cracker group calling itself `Cult of the Dead Cow'.
They have released their `Back Orifice 2000' for breaking Microsoft
Windows security tools under the GPL.</para>

<para><anchor id="HT"/><emphasis>[HT]</emphasis> 
In evolutionary terms, the craftsman's urge itself may (like
internalized ethics) be a result of the high risk and cost of
deception.  Evolutionary psychologists have collected experimental
evidence <link linkend="BCT">[BCT]</link> that human beings have brain logic
specialized for detecting social deceptions, and it is fairly easy to
see why our ancestors should have been selected for ability to detect
cheating.  Therefore, if one wishes to have a reputation for
personality traits that confer advantage but are risky or costly, it
may actually be better tactics to actually have these traits than to
fake them.  (``Honesty is the best policy'')</para>

<para>Evolutionary psychologists have suggested that this explains behavior
like barroom fights.  Among younger adult male humans, having a
reputation for toughness is both socially and (even in today's
feminist-influenced climate) sexually useful.  Faking toughness,
however, is extremely risky; the negative result of being found out
leaves one in a worse position than never having claimed the trait.
The cost of deception is so high that it is sometimes better
minimaxing to internalize toughness and risk serious injury in a
fight to prove it.  Parallel observations have been made about less
controversial traits like honesty.</para>

<para>Though the primary meditation-like rewards of creative work should not
be underestimated, the craftsman's urge is probably at least in part
just such an internalization (where the base trait is `capacity for
painstaking work' or something similar).</para>

<para>Handicap theory may also be relevant.  The peacock's gaudy tail
and the stag's massive rack of antlers are sexy to females because
they send a message about the health of the male (and, consequently,
its fitness to sire healthy offspring).  They say: "I am so vigorous
that I can afford to waste a lot of energy on this extravagant
display." Giving away source code, like owning a sports car, is very
similar to such showy, wasteful finery - it's expense without obvious
return, and makes the giver at least theoretically very sexy.</para>

<para><anchor id="MH"/><emphasis>[MH]</emphasis> A concise summary of
Maslow's hierarchy and related theories is available on the Web at
<ulink
url="http://www.valdosta.peachnet.edu/~whuitt/psy702/regsys/maslow.html">Maslow's
Hierarchy of Needs</ulink></para>

<para><anchor id="dc"/><emphasis>[DC]</emphasis> However, demanding
humility from leaders may be a more general characteristic of gift or
abundance cultures.  David Christie <email>dc@netscape.com</email> reports on
a trip through the outer islands of Fiji:</para>

<blockquote>
<para>In Fijian village chiefs, we observed the same sort of
self-deprecating, low-key leadership style that you attribute to open
source project leaders. [...] Though accorded great respect and of
course all of whatever actual power there is in Fiji, the chiefs we
met demonstrated genuine humility and often a saint-like acceptance of
their duty.  This is particularly interesting given that being chief
is a hereditary role, not an elected position or a popularity contest.
Somehow they are trained to it by the culture itself, although they
are born to it, not chosen by their peers.''  He goes on to emphasize
that he believes the characteristic style of Fijian chiefs springs
from the difficulty of compelling cooperation: a chief has ``no big
carrot or big stick''.</para>
</blockquote>

<para><anchor id="no"/><emphasis>[NO]</emphasis>
As a matter of observable fact, people who found successful projects
gather more prestige than people who do arguably equal amounts of work
debugging and assisting with successful projects.  An earlier version
of this paper asked ``Is this a rational valuation of comparative
effort, or is it a second-order effect of the unconscious territorial
model we have adduced here?''  Several respondents suggested persuasive
and essentially equivalent theories.  The following analysis by 
Ryan Waldron <email>rew@erebor.com</email> puts the case well:</para>

<blockquote>
<para>In the context of the Lockean land theory, one who establishes a new and
successful project has essentially discovered or opened up new territory on
which others can homestead.  For most successful projects, there is a
pattern of declining returns, so that after a while, the credit for
contributions to a project has become so diffuse that it is hard for
significant reputation to accrete to a late participant, regardless of the
quality of his work.</para>

<para>For instance, how good a job would I have to do making
modifications to the perl code to have even a fraction of the
recognition for my participation that Larry, Tom, Randall, and others
have achieved?</para>

<para>However, if a new project is founded [by someone else] tomorrow, and I
am an early and frequent participant in it, my ability to share in the
respect generated by such a successful project is greatly enhanced by
my early participation therein (assuming similar quality of
contributions).  I reckon it to be similar to those who invest in
Microoft stock early and those who invest in it later.  Everyone may
profit, but early participants profit more.  Therefore, at some point
I will be more interested in a new and successful IPO than I will be
in participating in the continual increase of an existing body of
corporate stock.</para>
</blockquote>

<para>Ryan Waldron's analogy can be extended.  The project founder has
to do a missionary sell of a new idea that may or may not be acceptable
or of use to others.  Thus the founder incurs something analogous to
an IPO risk (of possible damage to their reputation), more so than
others who assist with a project that has already garnered some
acceptance by their peers. The founder's reward is consistent despite
the fact that the assistants may be putting in more work in real
terms.  This is easily seen as analogous to the relationship between
risk and rewards in an exchange economy.</para>

<para>Other respondents have observed that our nervous system is tuned
to perceive differences, not steady state. The revolutionary change
evidenced by the creation of a new project is therefore much more
noticeable than the cumulative effect of constant incremental
improvement. Thus Linus is revered as the father of Linux, although
the net effect of improvements by thousands of other contributors have
done more to contribute to the success of the OS than one man's work
ever could.</para>

<para><anchor id="HD"/><emphasis>[HD]</emphasis> The phrase
``de-commoditizing'' is a reference to the <ulink
url="http://www.opensource.org/halloween/">Halloween Documents</ulink>
in which Microsoft used ``de-commoditize'' quite frankly to refer to
their most effective long-term strategy for maintaining an
exploitative monopoly lock on customers.</para>

<para><anchor id="KN"/><emphasis>[HD]</emphasis> A respondent points
out that the valus surrounding the ``You're not a hacker until other
hackers call you a hacker'' norm parallel ideals professed (if not
always achieved) by other meritocratic brotherhoods within social
elites sufficiently wealthy to escape the surrounding scarcity
economy.  In the medieval European ideal of knighthood, for example,
the aspiring knight was expected to fight for the right; to seek honor
rather than gain; to take the side of the weak and oppressed; and to
constantly seek challenges that tested his prowess to the utmost.  In
return, the knight-aspirant could regard himself (and be regarded by
others) as among the best of the best&mdash;but only after his skill and
virtue had been admitted and ratified by other knights.  In the
knightly ideal extolled by the Arthurian tales and Chansons de Geste
we see a mix of idealism, continual self-challenge, and status-seeking
similar to that which animates hackers today. It seems likely that
similar values and behavioral norms should evolve around any skill
that both requires great dedication and confers a kind of
power.</para>

<para><anchor id="GNU"/><emphasis>[GNU]</emphasis>
The Free Software Foundation's main website carries 
<ulink url="http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/motivation.html">an
article</ulink> that summarizes the results of many of these studies.  The
quotes in this essay are excerpted from there.</para>

</sect1>
<sect1><title>Bibliography</title>

<para><anchor id="miller"/><emphasis>[Miller]</emphasis>
Miller, William Ian; <emphasis>Bloodtaking and Peacemaking: Feud, Law, and
Society in Saga Iceland</emphasis>; University of Chicago Press 1990, ISBN
0-226-52680-1.  A fascinating study of Icelandic folkmoot law, which
both illuminates the ancestry of the Lockean theory of property and
describes the later stages of a historical process by which custom
passed into customary law and thence to written law.</para>

<para><anchor id="Mal"/><emphasis>[Mal]</emphasis>
Malaclypse the Younger; <emphasis>Principia Discordia, or How I Found
Goddess and What I Did To Her When I Found Her</emphasis>; Loompanics, ISBN
1-55950-040-9.  There is much enlightening silliness to be found in
Discordianism.  Amidst it, the `SNAFU principle' provides a rather
trenchant analysis of why command hierarchies don't scale well.
There's a browseable <ulink url="http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~tilt/principia/">HTML version</ulink>.</para>

<para><anchor id="BCT"/><emphasis>[BCT]</emphasis>
J. Barkow, L. Cosmides, and J. Tooby (Eds.); <emphasis>The Adapted Mind:
Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture.</emphasis> New York:
Oxford University Press 1992.  An excellent introduction to evolutionary
psychology.  Some of the papers bear directly on the three cultural
types I discuss (command/exchange/gift), suggesting that these patterns
are wired into the human psyche fairly deep.</para>

<para><anchor id="MHG"/><emphasis>[MHG]</emphasis>
Goldhaber, Michael K.; <ulink
url="http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue2_4/goldhaber">The
Attention Economy and the Net</ulink>.  I discovered this paper after my
version 1.7.  It has obvious flaws (Goldhaber's argument for the
inapplicability of economic reasoning to attention does not bear close
examination), but Goldhaber nevertheless has funny and perceptive
things to say about the role of attention-seeking in organizing
behavior.  The prestige or peer repute I have discussed can fruitfully
be viewed as a particular case of attention in his sense.</para>

<para><anchor id="HH"/><emphasis>[HH]</emphasis>
I have summarized the history of the hacker culture in <ulink url="http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/faqs/hacker-hist.html">A
Brief History Of Hackerdom</ulink>.  The book
that will explain it really well remains to be written, probably not
by me.</para>

</sect1>
<sect1><title>Acknowledgements</title>

<para>Robert Lanphier <email>robla@real.com</email> contributed much to the
discussion of egoless behavior.  Eric Kidd <email>eric.kidd@pobox.com</email>
highlighted the role of valuing humility in preventing cults of
personality.  The section on global effects was inspired by comments
from Daniel Burn <email>daniel@tsathoggua.lab.usyd.edu.au</email>.  Mike
Whitaker <email>mrw@entropic.co.uk</email> inspired the main thread in the
section on acculturation. Chris Phoenix <email>cphoenix@best.com</email>
pointed out the importance of the fact that hackers cannot gain
reputation by doing other hackers down. A.J. Venter
<email>JAVenter@africon.co.za</email> pointed out parallels with the medieval
ideal of knighthood.  Ian Lance Taylor <email>ian@airs.com</email> sent
careful criticisms of the reputation-game model which motivated me
to think through and explain my assumptions more clearly.</para>

</sect1>
<!-- %%END ENDNOTES%% -->
</article>