Open Source Product Development Culture

The more I think about Coko and the problems we have to solve, the more I have come to understand why and when open source works best. This should be a good thing, but strangely it raises more questions than answers. Up til now, open source has never been a product development culture. It has primarily been a technical solutions culture; the difference between those two cultures is vast.

I’m feeling a little like a stunned mullet. Like the most obvious thing in the world was sitting right in front of me but I never saw it. And we simply don’t have good examples of open source product development cultures that we can copy or learn lessons from. That fact is kind of shocking to me, and I am doubly shocked that it has taken me so long to clearly understand the ramifications.

It means that there is a difficulty, or we should exercise wariness, when translating lessons learned from existing open source models to those focused on producing products. The primary stakeholders change from developers to ‘users’ and that means that business models, metrics, language, tooling, intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, processes for inter-organisational collaboration, workflows etc all change. Everything changes. We have to examine and re-imagine everything.