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Open Source Projects and the Meritocracy Myth

Dec 02, 2009, 21:02 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Bruce Byfield)

"Clearly, meritocracy is one of the myths that the FOSS community tells itself. By "myth," I do not mean that the claim is a lie, but that meritocracy is part of the story that community members tell themselves to establish and maintain a common identity.

"In other words, the idea that FOSS is a meritocracy is equivalent to the idea that America is the land of opportunity, or that scientists are objective. For members of the FOSS community, the idea that hard work is rewarded with recognition and the opportunity for more responsibility is central to their belief system and their sense of who they are.

" For people to continue to believe such myths, they must have enough truth in them that no one calls them into question, and exceptions to the myth can be explained, or even denied.

"Yet if a community's myths are not a lie, they are not necessarily the whole truth, either. Often, they are over-simplifications of a much more complex situation."

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