Article: Powers and repositories

Christian Jensen cj2003 at
Tue Jan 30 08:18:19 GMT 2007

I guess this is more or less ready for The Fridge:

"This paper deals with the authority and power of software repositories, 
especially Launchpad and Rosetta, the repositories that contains the 
source code and translations of Ubuntu. It does this by extending some 
of sociologist Max Weber's notions of authority. Weber's idea of 
“charismatic authority” is well known to many free software developers, 
and to those who comment upon and study this phenomenon. The informal, 
personally achieved authority of the charismatic leader, like that of 
Linus Torvalds, has been well known since Eric Raymond wrote his papers 
The Cathedral and the Bazaar 
<> *^1 
<#sdfootnote1sym>* and Homesteading the Noosphere 
<#sdfootnote2sym>* Eric Raymond's message is substantiated by a detailed 
empirical account and states that Free software projects stick together, 
rather than to fork, pretty much because this authority is respected. 
Raymond has made some very fine observations.*^3 <#sdfootnote3sym>* But 
they are not enough. In the project that this paper is part of, the 
focus is on the two other, well known authorities of Weber, the 
/traditional/ and the /bureaucratic-rational /one.

The basic idea of this paper-to-be is that repositories are traditional 
and bureaucratic-rational authorities, and that they do important 
coordination and integration work in free software-projects. As long, 
that is, as they are respected by their users."

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