Saturday, 13 February 2016

Changing the Traditional Work Model with Open Source

Open Source Communities
Much research has demonstrated that current traditional work models (eg the typical 9-to-5 work week), are not only unhealthy to workers' physical and mental health, but does not reap the best level of productivity.

On the other hand, working in open source technologies provides for a completely different employment model. Instead of being pigeonholed into a single, assigned task, open source contributors are given more autonomy for their responsibilities, allowing them to use their time and skills with more resilience.

Further, many studies imply that the traditional and societal reproach that is associated with not having a job in the traditional sense have significant negative impacts on individuals' mental health.

Communities and projects that adopt Open Source philosophy are examples of non-traditional work structures that are very productive while existing outside typical understanding of "work."

An example are the authors of the software OpenSSL ( a vital software library that serves a large majority of websites across the web). Outside of traditional business models, the software authors range from one time collaborators to continuous contributors who have collectively made the most important networking encryption library to date. This is the result of effort of diverse communities of volunteers working on "their own time," rather than on the through a rigid proprietary software development firm.

In the book "The Cathedral and the Bazaar", the difference between proprietary software and open source development is compared and the primary difference noted is the hierarchical structure of the proprietary software development and the flat organizational structure of the open source development model.
Open source work tends to lean more towards the non-hierarchical (or heterarchical) management system in which leadership is decentralized. This leads to contributors experiencing more freedom in their roles in certain projects. Another benefit of flat structures is a certain flexibility to adapt to change, which is vital in the realm of open source software development.

Open source trumps traditional models in the area of Accessibility. Many of today's neoliberal economic practices prioritize productivity—which often leads to disability discrimination. A core principle of open source is to allow anyone who wishes to contribute to the ecosystem to be able to do so. 

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