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The Ignorance of Crowds

May 29, 2007, 16:30 (20 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Nicholas Carr)

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"Ten years ago, on May 27, 1997, a little-known software programmer from Pennsylvania named Eric Raymond presented a paper at a technology conference in Würzburg, Germany. Titled 'The Cathedral and the Bazaar,' the paper caused an immediate stir, and its renown has only grown in the years since. It is now widely considered one of the seminal documents in the history of the software industry.

"Raymond's subject was the open source software movement, as exemplified by what was then--and still is--its most famous product, the Linux operating system. Open source projects, he pointed out, represented a radically new method of software development. Traditionally, sophisticated programs had always been ;built like cathedrals, carefully crafted by individual wizards or small bands of mages working in splendid isolation.' An open source project, in contrast, was the product of a large and informal community of volunteers who in aggregate 'seemed to resemble a great babbling bazaar of differing agendas and approaches.' What was amazing, Raymond wrote, was that 'the Linux world not only didn't fly apart in confusion but seemed to go from strength to strength at a speed barely imaginable to cathedral-builders...'"

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