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Below is a growing draft version of my dissertation. My hope is that interested observers and those knowledgeable in the fields I am exploring and drawing ideas from might comment upon my work and expand my understanding. If you would like to contribute in any way, then please feel free to hit 'Edit' or 'Discussion' above and add any revisions, suggestions or comments.



The Abstract will go here.



Chapter Introduction[edit]

This dissertation explores the possibilities and challenges presented by an emergent form of open source architectural practice. Specifically, it examines how contemporary architects have begun to adopt concepts and techniques that were developed and explored within the field of software design and how these ideas are shaping new approaches to architectural practice. From this investigation, a discourse on how such new practices might transform the wider architectural profession is explored.

This chapter provides an overview of the dissertation and the questions that guide the research. This enquiry is set in the context of a range of academic and professional literature, studying the culture of open source software development, early examples of open source methods applied to architectural and urban issues, and the architectural profession as a whole and the potential receptiveness to open source methods in this highly codified professional context. The methodologies and overall structures of this dissertation are then described before a discussion on the contribution this work might make to the field of architectural research.

Problem Statement[edit]

The growth of open source software development as a model of creativity and innovation has radically altered the landscape of the computer industry over the last two decades (Benkler, 2002; Raymond, 1999; Satzger & Neus, 2010; Weber, 2004). This model is formed around relatively informal organisations; groups of individuals collaborating across a more horizontal hierarchy (O’Mahony & West, 2005), using the internet as a communication and co-ordination tool, freed from the need to centrally locate themselves in any single location (Mockus et al., 2005; Weber, 2004). It is the spread of the internet that has allowed this model to develop and flourish. Many open source products are of an equal or greater level of complexity than commercial software and challenge proprietary products across most platforms and for a vast range of uses (Weber, 2004).

Weber (2004) writes of open source as fundamentally redefining notions of property and the structures of human creativity in the age of internet communication. Open source software are merely the economically successful products of a model of production and collaboration that might transform a number of creative fields. For Weber (2004, pp.11–12), open source has posed three particular questions that take the model beyond simply the development of computer software; what motivates those who contribute, how do they co-ordinate themselves socially, and how do they manage the development of vastly complex products? Each of these aspects has been thoroughly explored in the context of open source software development, providing intriguing glimpses of new social phenomena that set this model apart from traditional organisational theory (Von Hippel & Von Krogh, 2003) and suggest how methods developed in this prototypical field might have great impact in other creative arenas.

Architects and urbanists have begun to experiment with this model in their own field, adopting the language of open source and exploring the potential that web-based communication platforms have in re-defining traditional concepts of practice, intellectual property, and the social role of the architect (Ratti et al., 2011; Davis & Sigrist, 2010; Kaspori, 2005). These nascent prototypes of an open source architectural practice each borrow from aspects of open source; from organisational techniques to novel licensing structures that encourage the sharing and adaptation of ideas and designs. The long-term potential of such experiments are not well understood. While open source has greatly transformed the landscape of the computer industry, whether a similar impact is possible in the context of architecture is dependent on a number of factors. The much more codified and regulated profession of architecture presents challenges in compatibility with the more informal and individualised structures seen in open source software development. The challenges; practical and economic, of constructing architecture itself poses questions. While open source has proven itself a revolutionary model in the field of software development, where a virtual environment presents nearly limitless 'resources', can such successes be replicated in fields where the final product must be physically constructed?

This dissertation explores a number of case studies which operate within the field of architecture and the built environment and where notions that are drawn from the area of open source software development have been invoked or inferred. These projects help to construct a definition of open source within the field of architecture. By building a profile of this emergent form of practice, a more thorough understanding of how these practices might develop and the impact that they might have within the wider field of architecture can be theorised.

Research Questions[edit]

This dissertation is an exploration of the emergence of an open source architectural practice; a form of architectural practice that draws on ideas developed within the open source software community; issues of development model, governance and intellectual property.

Primarily, it is a goal of this research to establish whether existing architectural projects, like those described in Chapter Three, and the individuals who take part in them, have established a distinct model of architectural production.

Towards this end, the primary research questions guiding this dissertation are:

  • Can the emergence of a model of open source architectural practice be described as representing a distinct culture, with its own set of characteristics which can be demonstrated to have an identity that is distinct from traditional/wider architectural practice?
  • If so, what are the implications for the wider architectural profession in the emergence of this model?

The emergence of this model raises a number of secondary questions:

  • Which aspects of the open source production model developed in the field of software design have provided avenues of exploration within architectural design processes?
  • Does the practices of the Glasgow based design and fabrication studio, MAKLab (and in particular its work as part of the WikiHouse project, development of open source mapping/modelling etc.) provide a prototypical model to study the social and technical implications of open source architectural practice – and what lessons can be learned from this study?

In light of evidence raised by these questions, a number of discussion points are also explored:

  • Who are the people that contribute to an open source architectural practice?
  • What motivates these individuals to take part in the process?
  • What do these people do, exactly?
  • How do they collaborate with one another?
  • How do these people resolve disagreements and reach decisions?
  • In the context of architecture, what is it that these people are working together to create?

These questions are adapted from Steven Weber's book The Success of Open Source (2004, p.56), itself an exploration of the emergence of the open source software movement. They place this research as a social survey of an emergent design model, itself part of larger creative communities. This social survey takes form as a period of engagement by the author with a number of projects based within and around the MAKLab studio and attendant digital spaces, and involves participation with a range of individuals and organisations to develop a profile of the open source architect and practice.

Add more about self-perception and identification with values of openness and difference from traditional/commercial practice.

Overview of Literature Review[edit]

Chapters Two and Three of this dissertation set the research within the broader context of open source software development, early examples of open source methods applied to architectural practice, and the potential receptiveness within the architectural profession at large in future dissemination of these methods. Brief summaries of these are included below to add context to the summary of research design that follows.

Open Source Software Development[edit]

The definition of a model of collaborative development of computer software fostered by the communication tools of the internet with the term open source was only made in 1998 (Perens, 1999). However, in this short time, the effects of this model have been significant. Open source is a novel paradigm of creation and innovation and has been studied widely in order to understand its technical and social characteristics and implications. This dissertation explores literature focussing on the cultural history, organisational structures, and legal aspects of the model, as well as the nature of those who contribute, firstly to generate an overview of this subject as a novel social phenomena with contested definitions and aims, but also to build a profile of a model from which various characteristics might be migrated for experimentation in a new field; that of architectural design. As suggested by Weber (2004, p.56), what is not revolutionary about the open source model are the products that have been generated; computer software, but instead the processes of production themselves. A thorough understanding of these processes, the actors who collaborate within them, and how they interact, allows parallels to be made to production processes within architecture.

Nascent Open Source Architectural Practice[edit]

A number of architects and urbanists have already begun to experiment with aspects of open source in their practice. This dissertation examines a number of these nascent open source architectural projects to understand how open source has been defined in each; be it the organisational practices in the development process, the free dissemination of building data, or forms of open, participatory governance involved in decision making surrounding the projects. These projects are presented as short case studies that compare their characteristics in relation to open source aspects identified in the earlier section of the literature review. Academic and professional literature that attempt to speculate on a future open architectural practice are also examined; the discourses of those practitioners who are exploring open source ideas within architecture, presenting a comparison with the practical challenges presented by the realised projects.

Open Source and the Contemporary Architectural Profession[edit]

In order to understand how the paradigms of open source; informal co-ordination, individuals within collective organisations, novel forms of intellectual property and information sharing etc., might square with the more rigourous environment of the architectural profession, literature that examines correspondent structures, focussing specifically on identifying points of incompatibility, are explored.

Early open source architectural projects described in the previous section do however demonstrate that architects are able to experiment with these ideas within this new context. Open source within architecture can be viewed as tapping into traditions of social responsibility, describing a compatibility between the mechanisms of motivation and reward identified in open source software design, early open source architectural projects and historic and contemporary examples of pro bono architectural work and participative architectural design. A range of literature that explore historic examples of such projects within the field of architecture; including Christopher Alexander's Pattern Language and the participatory architecture of Lucian Kroll, are explored, to suggest that architects can draw on examples from within their own field as a means to enrich open source concepts.

Overview of Methodologies and Constraints[edit]

Chapter Four of this dissertation discusses the methodological approach employed in this research, with a specific focus on the ethnographic methods employed in the study of a number of projects centred around the MAKLab studio in Glasgow, and the network that this studio has created.

MAKLab is an interdisciplinary design studio and maker space based in The Lighthouse; Scotland's centre for design and Architecture, in Glasgow. The organisation has a twofold model. Its primary studio space is equipped with a range of modern fabrication tools, including laser cutters, 3D printers and CNC routers. The organisation provides a membership scheme for individuals and small businesses to work on their own projects within the space using these tools. At the same time, a small design team works with individuals and organisations on a commission basis to develop and deliver creative projects. These projects are within a range of creative fields, including product and furniture design, and software and hardware digital systems, as well as increasingly, in fringe areas of architectural practice. The organisation was founded by an architect and many of the projects undertaken by the studio or hosted within the space involve activities common to architectural practice; two and three dimensional CAD production, the creation of physical models, as well as the prefabrication of building elements. The space also acts as a hub for a number of different maker communities, many of which are engaged in the creation of open source products.

There are a number of projects that have been developed by MAKLab as an organisation, co-ordinated with the space, or for which, MAKLab has acted as a node within a larger project community. MORE!

This research borrows from ethnographic precedent, identifying a field – the MAKLab studio in Glasgow, and the digital spaces that expand this network, such as the OpenStreetMap and WikiHouse web platforms where data is shared – and involves participant observation as a means to develop a “rich and full delineation” of this practice as a novel model, distinct from traditional practices (Groat & Wang, 2002, p.182). The methods of participant observation draw from the works of Cuff (1991) and Yaneva (2009a; 2009b), who both profiled design practice through ethnographic methods. Raymond's (1999) ethnographic accounts of the early years of the open source movement, and the Rosenberg's (2007) account of open source start-up, Chandler, provide similar perspectives from the field of software design.

Alongside the observation of participants exists the opportunity to become more deeply involved in the research through autoethnographic methods, the researcher taking part in the processes being studied, presenting their own experiences as part of the wider investigation (Chang, 2008). This autoethnographic component of the research is undertaken as practice-based research. The researcher-as-designer's perspective of the processes of design in an architectural context is contingent on being embedded within this processes to some extent. In the case of this research, time spent working as part of the MAKLab studio, working particularly on a number of projects that engage with concepts of open source, form this practice-based element and allow hands on experience, the conclusions from which helping to compliment and expand the mixed-methods qualitative approach taken in this research.

The focus of this engagement is to help in the construction of a number of profiles. Firstly there is the open source architect, exploring her day-to-day activities and customs, working environments and her engagement with new design tools introduced by the adoption of open source working methods (such as reciprocal open data sets). Second is a profile of the open source architectural practice, the social network that connects and sustains the design projects undertaken, with a specific focus on how these networks are formed, organise themselves hierarchically, how disagreements and challenges are resolved, and the spaces, both physical and digital, that they operate within. The final profile is of the wider community of open source architects; those who advocate and advance the concept of open source within the field of architecture, exploring how this community forms a shared identity and self perception.

These profiles respectively introduce further understanding of customs, networks, and identity MORE ABOUT CONSTRUCTION OF SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT!

This engagement between researcher and subject expands the issues of ethical responsibility. These issues include transparency and sensitivity in how the researcher gains access to and studies the group in question, and the potential impact that the researchers presence might have upon them (Orb et al., 2001, p.93).

The multi-method approach undertaken includes a number of other research techniques alongside participant observation and autoethnographic methods. This includes semi-structured interviews with key agents within the open architecture projects studied and questionnaires of contributors. Analysis of discourse and materials distributed by these groups helps to establish the manner in which they identify themselves and their place within a wider professional and social context.

Structure of Dissertation[edit]

The opening four chapters of this dissertation comprise of the background research undertaken in this work. This chapter presents a description of the nature of the research and the structure of the dissertation. In Chapter Two, there is a review of existing academic and professional literature surrounding the topic of open source software development, while Chapter Three explores a number of early open source architectural practices, and the potential receptiveness to these ideas in the wider architectural profession. Chapter Four presents the central research questions and the methodological approach taken in exploring them.

The following X chapters present the findings of the research.

The final two chapters conclude the dissertation, reflecting on the findings in the context of contemporary architectural practice and the potential receptiveness within the highly rigid professional structure of the field for diffusion of open source methods and ideas. The final chapter discusses the limitations of this research and discusses possibilities for future research in this area.

Overview of Contribution to the Field[edit]

This dissertation seeks to explore a research area with little existing literature; the application of practices developed within open source software development in the context of architectural design. These practices; technical methods and social structures, have had a major impact on the landscape of software design and the implications of exploring these in related fields appears to have significant promise in developing new working paradigms. They allow less formal organisations of practitioners, not bound by limitations of proximity, to develop work that reaches the sophistication and complexity of more traditional professional organisations.

The dissertation is an exploration of these working practices as well as a discussion of the potential within contemporary architectural practice for such a model to have a wider and lasting impact.

The dissertation also, through direct observation and participation in one early example of open source methods applied to architectural design, projects within the MAKLab studio, hopes to provide an academic insight into and emergent design practice and analysis that may have practical implications for designers and organisers working in the field of open source architectural design.

Chapter Conclusion[edit]

This chapter has provided an overview of dissertation, describing the research problem statement and the key research questions. The literature review places this dissertation within academic and professional literature exploring the practices of open source software development, early examples of open source methods applied within an architectural context and the potential future of this model within the architectural profession. The methodologies employed in this research were described and potential contributions to the field of architectural research discussed.

A Description of Open Source or The Development of Open Source Creativity[edit]

Section Introduction[edit]

This section/chapter introduces the research topic in the context of the evolution of methods of open source software development and the increasing understanding of open source techniques and methods and migration of these aspects to other fields.

The section begins with an overview of open source, attempting to explore how the contested term has evolved to encompass a mass of social, technical and political issues. These definitions and their underlying meanings provide a range of research topics; political aspects of open source, how groups organise themselves within the model, what motivates contributors, and the novel intellectual property mechanisms that have developed alongside open source to encourage its propagation and protect its protagonists.

The section/chapter concludes with a discussion of how this research fits within the overall narrative of this dissertation.

Defining Open Source[edit]

In the last twenty years, open source software has transformed the landscape of the computer industry and had major implications for the way society interacts, shares knowledge and develops new ideas (Benkler, 2002; Raymond, 1999; Satzger & Neus, 2010; Von Hippel & Von Krogh, 2003; Weber, 2004). What began as “scratching a developer's personal itch” (Raymond, 1999, p.3) - the urge to create software to tackle a problem, meet a demand, or simply for the enjoyment of making something new - has expanded into a social movement with tremendous possibilities far beyond the realm of computer software (Rushkoff, 2003; Shirky, 2005).

So extensive is the scope of open source, the term has taken on a variety of potential definitions that can be unpicked and understood to provide a variety of topics for further research. Each of these definitions sheds light on different aspects of open source that might have potential across other fields.

There are a number of academic texts that have provided definitions from a range of perspectives (technical, social and legal) as wellik as 'official' definitions provided by organisations established to propagate and support the movement. Alongside the term itself are a number of closely related terms; free-software, crowdsourcing, web 2.0, Peer 2 Peer, collective intelligence and human computation, each of which are entwined with open source and request further exploration.

The term open source itself is a young one, created at a strategy session in 1998 as an attempt to label a software development movement that had been growing amongst amateurs and hackers for well over a decade (Tiemann, 2006). This name went beyond a simple branding exercise. The Open Source Initiative, an organisation created the same year, published the first 'definition' of the term (Perens, 1999) which set out for the first time the characteristics that specified software as open source and examined various licenses that gave legal status to the software in question. Perens (1999), describing the definition, talks of the document as a “bill of rights for the computer user”. He describes the rights for the user in the following terms;

  • “The right to make copies of the program, and distribute those copies”.
  • “The right to have access to the software's source code, a necessary preliminary before you can change it.”
  • “The right to make improvements to the program.”

- (Perens, 1999)

For Perens and the Open Source Initiative, the term 'open source' describes the programme and its source; the code that governs how the programme works and the language that programmers work with in its development. This understanding of open source as an object; a programme and its constructional blueprints, open in the way it is shared, is a relatively straightforward way of understanding the movement's beginnings. The comparisons to proprietary and commercial software developments are clear; the source code of open source software is openly distributed, using a variety of license structures, whereas commercial developers shroud their code in secrecy, releasing only the final product; the resultant programme.

Perhaps drop here the Kitchen and Dodge (Kitchin & Dodge, 2011, pp.35–39) stuff about code as an product, before code as a process. SEE BELOW, IS THIS A CORRECT TAKE ON IT, OR EVEN SUITABLE FOR THIS SECTION OF THE ESSAY?

Code takes its form as one of a number of representational languages, each with their own syntax, grammar, punctuation and structure (Kitchin & Dodge, 2011, p.25). There are a great number of these languages, created specifically for programmers to work with to develop software. The languages must perform two roles and have been constructed for two very different types of writer and reader. Firstly, the languages are abstractions of instructions to be performed by a computer system in order for a desired action to occur. A computer programme's code is simply a list of instructions that a computer processor follows to allow the huge number of small operations to occur that form the totality of the software. The huge complexity and sophistication of modern software is constructed with equally intricate code; a 2005 study of the version 3.1 release of the open source Linux operating system Debian counted over 229,000,000 lines of source code written in at least 17 programming languages. This was developed by over 1400 volunteers and the study estimated that the cost to a commercial software developer in creating it would be in the region of 8,000,000,000 US Dollars (Amor-Iglesias et al., 2005).

Programming languages must be intelligible to both the computers and to those who write the code, the human programmers who develop, test, edit and debug it (Kitchin & Dodge, 2011, p.26). These languages form a bridge between the intentions of the writers and the computational possibilities of the computer processor. The code holds the agency of the programmer over the machine which slavishly follows the commands expressed. The most commonly used languages – which include C, C++, Python and html, are mixtures of English words, punctuation marks, and symbols that make it relatively straightforward for a human programmer to read and interpret what actions will be performed if the code is run by a computer processor (Berry, 2004, p.67; Kitchin & Dodge, 2011, p.25; Weber, 2004, p.4). Fluency in code is not universal; it takes time to become comfortable in these languages, but each have overlapping characteristics which mean once the basic principles are understood multiple languages can be mastered (Kitchin & Dodge, 2011, p.35).

Other writers have sought to understand open source both as a term that describes the coded object, but also how it has come to describe the communities that create this code, and the models of social interaction that are discernible within them.

Looking specifically at O'Mahony and West's (O’Mahony & West, 2005) and their definition of three distinctions of open source; licence format, development model and model of governance, each of which can be detected in open source projects to a greater or lesser degree. My interest follows all three, as each might significantly impact architectural practice. The first two most closely follow my earlier demonstration of design as something that is 'performed' through language onto a representational object (drawing, model, code etc.)(Lefebvre's 'representation of spaces'?). The second and third speak more to the idea of design as carried out by technical communities (Lefebvre's 'social practices'?) which follows through to my ethnographic study. Also Von Hippel and Von Krogh's (Von Hippel & Von Krogh, 2003) definition of open source as a “private collective” innovation model.

O'Mahony and West's (O’Mahony & West, 2005) third definition can be compared to Raymond's (Raymond, 1999) description of the cathedral and the bazaar models.

O'Mahony and West (2005) describe open source as having three distinct definitions, each identifiable in most open source projects.

The first, as an “intellectual property policy” (2005, pp.6–7), conforms with the definition set out in the Open Source Definition. The object in question – the source code and resultant software programme – are licensed in a manner that allows them to be openly distributed and altered. A number of novel licensing systems have developed alongside open source to define the legal landscape that surrounds this definition. These are described later in this chapter in section 2.1.6.

The second definition identified by O'Mahony and West is descriptive of the process of open source. This process, which is distinct from commercial and proprietary software companies, who retain staff in-house with clear hierarchies of power and influence, has been the subject of a great deal of research. For Weber (2004), it is this process that is revolutionary about open source:

“The essence of open source is not the software. It is the process by which software is created. Think of the software itself as an artifact of the production process.” (2004, p.56)

This model of software development is something powered by the internet. Where, before this vast communication tool was widely available, the intrinsic complexity of major software development could only be undertaken by teams organised within large corporate firms, the internet allowed large numbers of people to collaborate with one another on equally complex projects in a new and less formal way (Weber, 2004; Satzger & Neus, 2010; O’Mahony & Ferraro, 2007). The Linux operating system, Apache web server and Sendmail email transfer software are all the dominant programmes in their respective fields, and all are open source, the code and programme freely distributed (Weber, 2004, p.6). The software landscape has been altered irrevocably by the shift towards open source, away from commercial software. Firms that had dominated the computer industry from the 1980s had, by the mid 2000s been marginalised by free alternatives (Satzger & Neus, 2010, p.220).

The collaborative process that has underpinned this revolution is characterised by informal relationships between collaborators who might work individually or as a part of small teams and are responsible for a component part of the overall project (Weber, 2004, p.32). While there may be a single organisation or foundation which oversees and stewards the projects - as in the case of a number of Linux-based operating systems or the Firefox web browser - the information and data that co-ordinates the unfolding of the process is not centrally controlled and accessed in a hierarchic manner. Instead, collaborators communicate developments and ideas in a relatively non-hierarchic manner, contacting and sharing directly with one another as problems are found and solutions offered (Satzger & Neus, 2010; O’Mahony & Ferraro, 2007). In this definition of open source, open can be used to describe this method of information and knowledge flow. Openness is an internal, as well as external, structure, where development information is widely disseminated by contributors to the project. O'Mahony and West (2008) identify the concept of transparency in drawing a distinction between open source projects and commercial ones. The code is circulated widely; everyone can access, study and adapt it for their own use. Embedded within this code is the demonstration of how past developers have solved problems and created new ideas. This iterative, evolutionary process allows knowledge and innovation to be spread more widely than in the case of commercial development, where innovation is something that gives a competitive edge and is closely guarded in-house .

The final definition identified by O'Mahony and West most explicitly explores the social dimensions of open source. They describe open source as a “community governance model” (2005, pp.6–7). Where the previous definition refers to the production of code and the processes of communication that allowed this production to take place, this final definition describes the decision making mechanisms that are found in open source communities.

Studying the development of the Debian operating system, O'Mahony and Ferraro (2007) conclude that open source communities, while distinctly less hierarchic and bureaucratic than commercial and proprietary organisations, still formed their own hierarchies, with certain individuals having greater influence in decision making. These production communities blend informal, democratic and bureaucratic decision making processes. They are relatively meritocratic (O’Mahony & Ferraro, 2007; Weber, 2004, p.180); contributors with greater reputation generally have a greater level of influence in shaping decisions. It is the value of technical contributions that are valued most. However, O'Mahony and Ferraro detect that as organisations grow in size and a greater number of decisions must be made across varying levels of the process, more democratic processes replace autocratic ones undertaken by contributors with a greater reputation.

How open source communities structure themselves in their operation is explored later in this dissertation in section 2.1.4.

These governance processes have tremendous significance not just to creative production but as the internet matures as a platform of communication for the general public, may shape future democratic processes at any number of levels (Rushkoff, 2003; Shirky, 2005; Weber, 2004).


This movement may have started amongst an esoteric group of computer programmers, who shared code amongst themselves in order to develop programmes for their own use, however, as our world has become increasingly immersed with digital technology, the potential for ordinary people to be affected by, and to take part in, an increasingly open source culture is expanding.

Mechanical Turk? :

Technology Journalist, Jeff Howe (2006) coined the term crowdsourcing to describe the great number of online projects that used the near limitless pool of contributors that could become involved in creative and analytical processes through web-based communication platforms. Described as a form of collective intelligence, by Quinn and Bederson (2011), this novel form of interaction and production revolves around large numbers of individuals working together to develop or sort through data and other information in a way that is structured by the projects initiators. Perhaps the most notable example of such an approach is Wikipedia<ref name="ftn1">Many commentators (REFERENCE!) note that Wikipedia differs from open source software development in a number of ways, Firstly, while the actual software code that underlies Wikipedia; the Wikimedia project, is available to the public, the website can not be altered by members of the public. Only the content of the site's entries and administrative pages are editable. Secondly, open source projects are largely characterised by a development process towards aims which have, to a large extent, a point of completion (see section 2.1.4 for more on the organisation of open source software development). Wikipedia, as a store of knowledge, is a perpetual task, where the essential goal – maintaining an accurate record of information – does not change, but given the nature of the information being collected, updated and edited, countless new tasks will always present themselves. Thirdly, faced with increasing problems with vandalism and incorrect information being added, Wikipedia has been forced to gradually tighten controls on those who edit pages, particularly sensitive ones. Wikipedia is included in this dissertation as, while strictly deviating from the open source model in a number of ways, it still represents a key example of peer-production, one that places emphasis on the fundamental openness of information, and that would not be possible were it not for the communicative possibilities of the internet that underlie the open source model.</ref>. The process undertaken by Wikipedia's contributors is very similar to that undertaken by contributors to traditional, published encyclopedias. Articles must be fact-checked, referenced and written using clear editing guidelines to ensure that they are of a sufficient quality. While these guidelines are not universally followed on every article, a number of academic analysis of the encyclopedia have suggested the level of quality and accuracy found on Wikipedia is comparable to published equivalents (Giles, 2005). Whereas the Encyclopedia Britannica might have a pool of contributing editors numbering in the thousands, Wikipedia can draw on millions of potential contributors. The level of knowledge and expertise may vary widely within this pool, certainly in comparison to the largely academic population of traditional encyclopedia editors, however, as early open source advocate Eric Raymond suggested, describing the de-bugging of computer source code in open source software development, “given enough eyes, all bugs are shallow.” (Raymond, 1999).

This maxim, dubbed 'Linus's Law” by Raymond, in honour of pioneer of the Linux operating system, Linus Torvalds, is integral to the success of open source. Small traditional, hierarchic organisations can only draw on the expertise and knowledge of their own staff to complete tasks, solve problems and develop new ideas. Larger corporate organisations might be sited around the world and draw from a pool of staff numbering in the thousands, allowing their productions to be more complex. Crowdsourced projects, with a potential pool of contributors numbering as many people as have an internet connection, have proven an almost irresistible force in changing the landscape of several fields of knowledge generation and creative production (Howe, 2006; Howe, 2008; Quinn & Bederson, 2011; Satzger & Neus, 2010). The Encyclopedia Britannica has, amongst a number of leading encyclopedia's, opened its contribution process up in a more Wikipedia-like manner, in response to the dominance of its online competitor, which controls in excess of 95% of the web traffic to encyclopedia websites (Satzger & Neus, 2010).

This reciprocity between the internet and those who populate and contribute to it, dubbed Web 2.0, has meant that open source ideals, those of opening up access to ideas and knowledge, have been taken beyond a computer software programming environment (Pór, 2004). Where the complex representational language of computer code that allows the development of software is the domain of only those with sufficient literacy and fluency, Wikipedia allows nearly anyone to take on the role of encyclopedia editor. The fluency of language required to contribute is limited to English or one of 283 other written languages (Wikipedia contributors, 2012b) and just a few elementary bits of notation that help structure articles.



Benkler (2002) describes this model as a commons-based peer production. This definition suitably touches upon the economic as well as social dimensions of open source. Productions built on voluntary contributions by a near-limitless pool of individuals of a wide range of skills and backgrounds can often quite simply out-compete commercial organisations in developing similar products. However, not all products can have this model applied to them. Benkler suggests that to be suitable as an open source project, it must meet three criteria. – Coase's Nature of the Firm, as introduction to Benkler's Coase's penguin.

Firstly, the work being undertaken must be modular. That is, it must be divisible into discreet components that one or more contributors can work on independently, with little or ideally no need to reference to, or co-ordination with, those working on other components. This has been a method of co-ordination used in the development of commercial software since the early days of the computer industry (Weber, 2004, pp.59–60).

Secondly, these components should all be of a similar, small size. This is important as in order to draw in a sufficient number of contributors who are each expected to volunteer their time and expertise, sustaining motivation levels required to complete a task is dependent on each module being relatively easy to achieve. While a computer programme may be a hugely complex work, made up of millions of lines of source code, they are typically structured in such a way that different sections of code are devoted to particular groups of actions and as such, can be broken up in a straightforward manner. It is not vital to have knowledge of every action performed by every line of code in each component in order to contribute to one particular area (Kitchin & Dodge, 2011, pp.32–33). Benkler suggests that a novel, typically written with a single narrative running throughout its length, would not prove suitable to being created in a commons-based peer production manner. Multiple authors would be required to have knowledge of every aspect of the narrative in order for the novel not to form a disjointed whole.

Benkler's final criteria refers to the act of bringing all of these modules together into a coherent and finished product. For Benkler this is a two part process. Firstly there is the need for quality control, checking that contributions are of a high enough standard and in line with the requirements needed of the total product. On top of this, as open source projects are largely open to contributions from anyone, the need to defend the product from incompetent and malicious contributions is a high priority and can be a time-consuming process. Wikipedia is a perfect example of a commons-based peer production that must regularly respond to threats of vandalism and unqualified contribution (Priedhorsky et al., 2007). Benkler talks of the need for cost-effectiveness in dealing with these problems. This cost isn't necessarily a monetary figure; more likely a time cost to contributors who must take effort away from development and devote it to reparative work, which in turn is a strong de-motivator for continued contribution. Different open source projects have approached the problem from different angles but again Wikipedia offers a number of cost-effective solutions, starting simply from a natural self-policing tendency shown by its contributors, who correct information as they come across it, to automated processes that analyse edits to determine if they are likely to be vandalism (West et al., 2010) and passing on vandalism reports to crowd-sourcing websites that have a pool of contributors who specifically work to combat them (Potthast, 2010).

The second aspect of the process is the time and effort spent in actually aggregating the components themselves. In software development, this aggregation is bringing the lines of source code in each component together as the final, resultant programme. Open source projects are typically aggregated automatically by other free software designed specifically to compile components, or in an iterative manner that sees contributors fit their components into the overall project in a step-by-step process (Benkler, 2002; Jørgensen, 2005).

Benkler (2002) notes that open source is neither the first, nor most important, example of a peer-produced model. Academic research and the culture of peer-review and citation is a far longer-standing example that shares many of the same characteristics; an emphasis on the free and open exchange of knowledge that exists as part of the 'commons', and motivations and rewards that are not directly derived from salary in exchange for work performed. This open model exists alongside proprietary and commercial forms of knowledge production and Benkler contends that this mixed culture of open and free knowledge produced in academic circles and knowledge held by commercial organisations will continue to exist as each provide more efficient ways of doing and producing different things.

A similar sentiment is expressed by Weber (2004), who suggests that both open source and proprietary forms of software development are likely to coexist as each occupy their own space and do not directly compete for domination of the software industry. It is not possible, he argues, to determine which model is “better, more efficient, more productive, or which would win in a clean competition” (2004, p.104). In fact, he suggests that perhaps what is most interesting will be the new models of production that emerge as hybrids at the interface of these two different forms (2004, p.264).

He adds further, more socially integrative characteristics that are required by open source projects, including the idea that the product being develop must be “perceived as important and valuable to a critical mass of users” (2004, pp.271–272). In describing the characteristics and tendencies of those who would contribute to such projects, the suggestion is made that open source attracts those who hold a “positive normative or ethical valance toward the process” (2004, p.272); that contributors share aims and values with the originators of the project and by extension are invested in the idea of open source as a model of production. It is helmed and populated by individuals who are highly self-identifying (Weber, 2004, p.7). Open source then, is more than just a model of production; it is a movement of people, a culture of producers who are proud of their working methods and have built a social environment to help spread and defend their ideas. - As Prug argues, peer-production; open source production is, in a sense, parasitic on the existing model of capitalist production. That is, the resources put into open source are taken from existing structures; an individual volunteering their time and skills to wikipedia or a free software project will require an income, a place of work or home etc. These resources are then transferred into another model of production. Currently, peer production and its advocates have not demonstrated a realistic concept of a future in which society works around the model. It is instead an adjunct of capitalism (or the predominant mode of production in the place where the work takes place), so its products can inherently be described as at the interface of the two models. - Bauwens reading of 4 strands of peer-production discourse suggests that the P2P Foundation's ideology is founded around exploring the model as a possibility for a post-capitalist model of production; one that could wholly constitute society. However, for now it is adjunct to capitalism and as Benkler understands it, can help counter-balance some of capitalism’s negative aspects. It might be able to expand beyond this parasitic form over time and with active promotion by its advocates and practitioners. Different advocates differ on how aggressively its promotion should be, and how important it is for the movement to be actively anti-capitalist.

Weber (Weber, 2004) provides a broad overview of history and definitions. The questions established in this book (Weber, 2004, p.56) provide a good way to focus this study on social actions and relations. He also describes open source as posing three interesting questions (Weber, 2004, p.11), those of motivation of contributors, coordination of contributions and complexity of the code itself and how it is managed.

Satzger and Neus (Satzger & Neus, 2010) who alongside 'closed' and 'open' processes (information flow and ownership), define open source projects as following 'peer-to-peer' or 'hierarchical' coordination mechanisms i.e. with or without a strong central coordinating organisation which contributors are in the employ of.

They define organisations in four categories (Satzger & Neus, 2010, pp.225–227). Conglomerates are large organisations which 'close' their data to outside observers and retain all contributors as employees. Within this large structure there might be many smaller hierarchies representing divisions of ETC!!

Code as product (Kitchin & Dodge, 2011, p.32) and code as process (Kitchin & Dodge, 2011, p.39).

Introduction of code/representation/system vs power issues (Kitchin & Dodge, 2011, pp.39–42) which itself touches on ANT, Latour (Latour, 1993; Latour, 1999; Latour, 2005) describing software as an actant in the world. Fullman, cited in Kitchen and Dodge, talks of software agency.

Kitchen and Dodge (Kitchin & Dodge, 2011) as well as Weber (Weber, 2004, p.14) talking about the spacialisation of code, the way in a coded space, it plays a structuring role much as law does in conventional social space. – Good introduction to a raft of open source articles.

Politics of Open Source[edit]

“The open source phenomenon is in some ways the first and certainly one of the most prominent indigenous political statements of the digital world.” (Weber, 2004, p.7)

Open source, if it is to be understood as a cultural movement, is like any other movement; It has much disputed ideologies, aims and objectives (Bergquist et al., 2005; Berry, 2004; Weber, 2004). There are critical internal struggles over definitions of terms, debates as to the most effective ways of propagating the movement's views and aims, as well as fundamental differences in opinion of the political implications of open source and the extent to which its adherents are involved in a cultural shift that has significance beyond the realm of computer software (Berry, 2004, pp.65–66; Weber, 2004, p.7).

At the centre of these debates are two organisations, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and the Open Source Initiative (OSI). Each represent distinct strains of ideology surrounding the expansion and implications of open source software, and each have different, and at times opposing opinions on how the movement should be spread. These differences are at times over highly technical and specialist concepts related to the production of software code. However, some of these disagreements are central to the idea of open source as a political movement that has a great deal to say on the nature of authorship, copyright and the production of knowledge in the digital society of the early 21st century (Berry, 2004, p.66).

Berry (2004), studying and comparing the discourses surrounding each organisation, in particular the writing of the two movements founders, Richard Stallman of the FSF and Eric Raymond of the OSI, suggests this difference is centred around the importance of the 'open' aspect of open source.

For Stallman (1998) and the FSF, the term free software is much preferable to open source. Stallman describes the FSF as in general agreement with the OSI in terms of the practical aspects of how open source software works and is produced, but in disagreement on the basic principles of the movement, sufficiently so to describe FSF as a separate “political camp” to the OSI. The FSF's rallying slogan is to think of software developed in this manner as equal to “free speech, not free beer”. The free in free software is not to denote that the software comes without a monetary charge (although it is a principle of the movement that this is true), but rather that the core principle is creation and distribution of software as a fundamental right. Stallman describes proprietary software as “the enemy” and suggests that “non-free software is a social problem and free software is the solution”<ref name="ftn2">While this language may seem particularly combative, it should be compared to that of Steve Balmer, CEO of Microsoft, who when describing the Linux open source kernel said “Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches” (Bergquist et al., 2005, p.441).</ref> (Stallman, 1998). Alongside the funding and development of free software projects, the FSF has vigourously defended code and products developed in this manner when commercial organisations have attempted to use them in proprietary products.

Berry (2004) describes the FSF perspective as coming from a strong moral position, Stallman himself arguing that the “ethical and political aspects” (Stallman, 2002) are of greater importance than the technical issues of efficiency and utility. Stallman argues that in an increasingly digital economy and society, the opportunities for copyright holders and large commercial organisations to limit the freedoms of individuals is increased and the FSF positions itself as a direct counter to this, championing the freedom to distribute and share ideas and knowledge as paramount. The FSF may be situated in the field of computer software, but its ideology has widespread application and touches on ideas of knowledge as a public good and as part of a commons; resources that are shared by the public, open to everyone (Weber, 2004, p.244).

This political and moral stance that is presented by the FSF is at times deeply radical and, in part, the foundation of the OSI in 1998 was a direct attempt by many in the open source community to distance itself from Stallman and other FSF advocates (Tiemann, 2006). Eric Raymond, co-founder of the organisation, has stated clearly his opinion of the core issues of open source:

“Open Source is not particularly a moral or a legal issue. It’s an engineering issue. I advocate Open Source, because very pragmatically, I think it leads to better engineering results and better economic results”

(Raymond, 2002)

This would be to suggest that open source is an apolitical movement, instead focussed on improved production of certain artefacts in an existing economy. However, Berry (2004), in his studies of Raymond's writing has suggested a strong discourse of libertarianism and neoliberalism in his personal writing on open source. This takes its form as an emphasis of the individuals role in the creation and control of the development of code and the primary driving force of development as a response to market forces. For Stallman, gaps in the marketplace, and the ability of open source to more cheaply and efficiently undercut commercial alternatives has been the key to its flourishing. He rejects altruistic motivations by individuals in the creation of and contribution to projects, suggesting that all projects, even those with a high level of perceived public good can be explained as a response to individuals acting in a free marketplace (Berry, 2004, p.79).

Raymond's writing suggests a far more pragmatic interest in the mechanics of open source, as compared to the more evangelical and utopian writing of Stallman (Berry, 2004). While Berry detects a distinctly political undertone, it is this relatively non-revolutionary and less-confrontational discourse that has found a more evident impact in the production of open source projects. While the FSF discourage any use of proprietary code as a constituent of an open source project – which they would categorise as “non-free software” (Stallman, 1998) - the OSI position is more flexible (Weber, 2004, p.52). Programmers looking to find the most efficient means to create software may be inclined to use part of proprietary code if it is deemed of a sufficient quality, but the FSF philosophy strictly forbids this, while a number of projects endorsed by the OSI do just this. This pragmatism, and blending of development models, has allowed open source to expand and gain ground far more quickly. Any and all parts of an FSF endorsed computer system must be made up of wholly free and open constituents, whereas OSI endorsed equivalents are based on open source code but may have programmes and elements that are neither free to the consumer, nor wholly open in regards to its source code. This second group of products has found greater reception in the market place and the OSI has proven a more convincing organisation in leading the discourse surrounding the open source community (Berry, 2004; Weber, 2004, p.112).

Why is this important in the context of my essay?


Lawrence Lessig (2005a), academic and copyright activist, has suggested that the place of the open source model of production, and the legal status of its products are part of a political battle that reaches to the United States Constitution.

While this might be a technicality of one nation's legal system, the implications for open source advocates is clear; copyright deliberately stifles creativity and technological advancement, and open source requires new legal frameworks in order to operate successfully and to its significant potential.

Section 2.1.6 of this dissertation explores this debate and the novel legal systems that have developed alongside open source in greater detail.

Political dimension to copyright rhetoric, where copyright as traditionally practised stifles the “progress of science and useful arts” (Lessig, 2005a, p.130). Open source advocates argue that copyright has been misused by legislators to aggressively defend intellectual property to the point that it harms this “progress clause” and that the war waged on copyright violators has had a knock on effect to the internet in general, large copyright holding bodies (record labels, production studies etc.) using their disproportionate influence to control the very nature of the web as an 'open' and unbiased communication platform through content control like DRM, and the ability to wholly shut down offending sites simply through accusation.

Problems with the alleged neutrality of services like wikipedia :

Eurocentrism, where wikipedia follows the epistemological model of enlightenment era encyclopaedia categorisation and structure. This replicates a distinctly modern, western theory of knowledge and epistemological approach to it's distribution. Can the flexibility of wikipedia as a web service be expanded to include non-western means of structuring knowledge (what would this look like?). Are there similar problems in Architecturally related knowledge bases like OAN? Does the replication of a modern western 'architectural practice' format of knowledge and data cause problems? – How to start contributing to open source. Is this a fair reflection of the genuine social barriers to entry of becoming productive and accepted in an open source project? – The taming of critical approaches and politics in the free software arena.

Bauwens on P2P as a transcendent new model to replace capitalism -

The Organisation of Open Source[edit]


Understanding the nature of software design has been a task that stretches far before the advent of the open source model of production, and the great number of texts that have explored the technical and social processes that underlie it.

Frederick Brooks and Harlan Mills, both authors of seminal texts on software engineering, characterised the challenges of software development as centred around the division of labour within a project and the inherent difficulties of communicating complex ideas amongst a group of collaborators (Brooks, 1995; Weber, 2004). Creating software – certainly any software of sufficient sophistication to have use beyond just its creator or a small circle of technically aware acquaintances – is a social task, one that requires groups of people following a shared vision. The success of this vision is largely down to how successful the co-ordination is between the members of the group.

Brooks developed the analogy of the construction of a cathedral in his explanation of the organisation of traditional software development (Brooks, 1995, p.42; Weber, 2004, pp.59–60). It was, as he suggested, a structure of significant complexity, a gargantuan and costly construction that required the distinct talents of a great number of individuals. However, this group would not come together spontaneously to create such an edifice, and nor would the beauty or coherence of its design come about simply by beginning work and allowing the project to forge its own course. The key, as Brooks understood it, was starting from a master plan; a design of the overall structure of the project that came from an individual, or very small number of initiators. This plan is both the blueprint of what the project is meant to achieve, the characteristics and capabilities of the software in question, as well as the structuring of the division of labour that takes place, the breaking of the project into segments that a larger body of contributors can work on.

A strict hierarchy is vital in Brooks model of software development. Weber (2004, p.60) likens it to the assembly line model of production pioneered by Henry Ford in the manufacture of cars. Divisions of labour are clearly defined, with segments of the total production overseen by individuals, who report to others responsible for overseeing a number of segments, who themselves in turn report further up the chain. This model is highly efficient in creating products that can be easily divided and integrated together at a late stage in the process. It is not without challenges though.

A significant proportion of the overall work must be devoted to monitoring the quality of the constituent segments of the project. As Weber (2004, p.60) notes, and Brooks (1995, p.42) concedes, the cathedral analogy breaks down in the sense that a cathedral will not collapse, or fail to function, if parts of its design are of a dissimilar style or material<ref name="ftn3">Brooks specifically cites (1995, p.42) the cathedral at Reims and its overall integrity of architectural language and style as the ideal cathedral type in his analogy. He acknowledges that most European cathedrals, built over many generations, are in fact a mixture of many styles as subsequent builders brought the prevalent languages of their day to bear on their development.</ref>. However, in the creation of software, different code; the building material, can not be so easily mixed together. The overall integrity of language and quality is more than a mere aesthetic concern. Failure to achieve this integrity may cause the programme to function incorrectly, or not even function at all (Jørgensen, 2005).

Communication is a significant challenge within any group collaboration. Within a software development project, this challenge is compounded by the abstract nature of the code that is being worked on (Weber, 2004, p.61; Raymond, 1999). Brooks (1995) developed an explanation of this problem that has come to be known as Brooks' Law. Simply put, it suggests that “adding more manpower to a software project that is late (behind schedule) will make the project even later” (Weber, 2004, p.61). While this might initially seem paradoxical, it is perhaps better understood in terms of the challenges of bringing new individuals into a project that is already underway. Brooks analysis of software development suggested that the time it took to communicate the ideas, code and organisation structure of a project to any new individual, as well as the time required by long-standing contributors to fix mistakes made by these newcomers, was greater than the time it took for them to become effectively productive. It took more effort to get them up to speed than they returned to the project, a period known as naturalisation or “ramp up” time (Sim & Holt, 1998). Brooks also described how this time and effort grew disproportionately as the project became larger and communication was required between a greater number of contributors. It is important then, in the management of a successful project, that a large enough team of contributors is part of the process from the outset.

This model, and its inherent challenges, are in many respects contrary to the logic of open source (Raymond, 1999). At its most basic, open source is predicated on the idea that anyone and everyone can access and contribute to a project and at any stage. In fact, traditional concepts of divisions of labour do not square at all with open source development (Weber, 2004, p.62). In contrast to commercial, hierarchical organisation, there is no top-down allocation of work within an ideal open source project<ref name="ftn4">Weber (2004, pp.62–65)

(2004, pp.62–65)

discusses an 'ideal-type' of open source project, a principle of the model, but suggests that the constraints of real-world issues like licensing mean this ideal is not reached.</ref>. Labour is distributed amongst those who contribute their time and effort into the project, but individuals are free to pick and choose which areas they wish to work on, based on their own unique set of skills and interests, as well as the needs of the project at the time. They are also free to leave the project when they wish, others able to pick up on where they leave from.

While the basic process of how code is written may not be revolutionarily different from commercial to open source projects, this fluidity of organisation is the key separation. Eric Raymond's The Cathedral and the Bazaar (1999) was one of the first texts that set out the mechanics of this difference. The title references Raymond's own architecturally inspired analogy. He borrows Brooks cathedral; software developed by only one or a few central programmers in a top-down manner (Brooks, 1995, p.44), who only release the source code when ready, and compares it to the bazaar, the model of development he first identified in the creation of the Linux operating system, where contributions from countless individuals formed into a stable and coherent whole, in a manner that was far quicker and more efficient than the cathedral builders.

This does not come about, however, through a complete anarchic abandonment of organisational principles (Weber, 2004, p.63). A great deal of co-ordination and communication is needed to make any open source project work, just as there is in a commercially developed one. However, where a corporate software firm would have teams, managers and clear routes of communication and command, those who contribute in an open source project take it upon themselves to organise exchange of ideas and decision making processes, through web-based bulletin boards and email discussion lists (Weber, 2004, p.63). By posting all project information online, so that it can be accessed by anyone and everyone, newcomers are able to study the project and bring themselves up to speed. Long-standing contributors are not forced to take time and effort away from their own work to help in this naturalisation process. The discussion lists and bulletin boards, however, are places where questions can be asked, challenges explored, and where the decision making processes within a project are exposed.

Weber (2004, p.63) suggests that the ideal type of open source project does not differentiate between user and programmer. The producers and consumers of the software are one and the same and the barrier to entry for prospective coders, each able to bring fresh ideas and perspectives to the table, is low, based on the merit of their contributions (O’Mahony & West, 2005, p.11; Bergquist & Ljungberg, 2001, p.307).

O'Mahony and West (2005) describe these barriers to entry as in three types; open, gated, and closed. In fully open projects, anyone can contribute code or other work, or at least offer their contributions to the community where, if deemed of a high enough quality and consistent to the overall plan, it would be included. Where a core group of coders, or central body entrusted with the development of the project, wishes to more greatly ensure the abilities of contributors and the quality of their inclusions, they may only accept newcomers into the process by a group vote or other selective procedure (Bergquist & Ljungberg, 2001, p.307; Mockus et al., 2005, pp.171–172), the so called “gated communities”. Closed processes are those seen in commercial organisations, where the ability to access and take part in the project is open only to employees, contractually part of the process, rewarded with a salary, but expected to follow clear protocol and instruction from individuals further up the chain of command.

O'Mahony and West (2008) further identify two related but distinct characteristics in all open source projects – two types of openness that differentiate the newcomers ability to view and study the project's code and development process, and the possibility to gain agency as a contributor and decision maker. They call these transparency and accessibility. Transparency describes the former type of openness. It is a vital characteristic of all open source projects that the code is open to all; in order to study how the software works and why code decisions have been made (O’Mahony & West, 2008, p.6). However, the ability to actively contribute and shape open source projects is not so universal and there are a great range of potential gateways that characterise the open source development process.

Open source development may not have the strict hierarchies of commercial organisation, but it is not without structure. All contributors do not exist on the same plane of control and influence. Raymond's (1999) central maxim in describing the requirements of an open source project is that “every good work of software starts by scratching a developer's personal itch.” Many open source projects start from humble beginnings, the brainchild of an individual or small group. They may evolve to encompass contributions and ideas from countless others, but this nucleus; a strong-willed leader, is the starting point in describing the governance tendencies of many open source projects. O'Mahony and Ferraro (2007) describe how the forms of governance in open source projects will often change over time, as a greater number of contributors become involved, the code grows, and a greater number of decisions must be made. Autocratic processes; the founding and core members of the group (perhaps only one individual) making all key decisions and shaping the projects evolution, tend to be replaced by increasingly democratic forms of decision making. These processes remain largely informal however (Weber, 2004, pp.185–186), with significant blending of the two; decisions coming from both the central core of the project and its wider membership at different times and for different reasons. This informality is highly typical, far greater emphasis being put on the priority of work being devoted to code development than maintaining formal democratic mechanisms.

The central core of developers are more than just a group with significant executive power in shaping the course of a project. These key individuals contribute the majority of code to the project, while a much larger number of peripheral members contribute a far smaller number of additions (Mockus et al., 2005, pp.171–172; O’Mahony & West, 2005, pp.11–12; Raymond, 1999; Weber, 2004, pp.62–63). This disproportion typically sees around 5% to 20% of the total number of individuals involved contributing around 80% to 90% of the projects code (Mockus et al., 2005; O’Mahony & West, 2005; Weber, 2004, p.71). Mockus, Fielding and Herbsleb (2005) analysed the development process of the Apache web server and Mozilla web browser, and found that these peripheral members were largely responsible for the reporting of problems that core members would then attempt to fix. This de-bugging process follows Raymond’s “Linus' Law” as described in section 2.1.2. As the project becomes larger, this disparity grows, with the number of core members remaining relatively consistent even while the total number of contributors expands. Mockus, Fielding and Herbsleb (2005, p.201) suggest that this number tends towards around 10-15 people before communication within this group becomes unwieldy, at which point work amongst this core is broken in to teams with a more formalised division of labour. Sack et al. (Sack et al., 2006) analysing the development community of the Python programming language identified a distinct five layer social stratification. They suggest that one's position in this ranking was meritocratic, specifically in this case, based on one's proficiency in the Python language, but equally in the ability to express one's ideas in email discussion threads. Certain key positions are appointed in a formal manner, while most people find identification informally through perceived levels of reputation.

Far from an effortless, self-forming and unanimous mentality that might be expected to characterise decision making process in horizontal organisations, Weber (2004, p.63) describes conflict as commonplace, and at times vigourous. It is accepted for contributors to speak there mind on subjects and not shy away from disagreeing with others. He describes conflict resolution as borne out of specific social norms; firstly the acceptance of one or more leaders of a project by all contributors and secondly the transparency of a – albeit miniaturised – structure of command. Open source communities tend towards smaller hierarchies than commercial counterparts, however, these are hierarchies nonetheless. Where key decisions must be made, and conflict arises, more senior contributors are responsible for these decisions, passing them higher up the chain depending on level of importance of the issue at hand, all the way up to the individual in charge of the entire project, jokingly referred to in the open source community as the “Benevolent Dictator for Life” (Sack et al., 2006). Greatly different hierarchies can be observed in major open source projects (Mockus et al., 2005; Sack et al., 2006; Weber, 2004, pp.91–92).

(Weber, 2004, p.175) on flaming.

(Dafermos, 2012) suggests that this micro-hierarchy and gate-keeping/supervision is not an inevitable result of increasing project size.

Where conflicts are irreconcilable, the development may split and a new project will be generated, taking the existing code and ideas down two distinct paths. This is known in the computing community as 'forking' and is a fundamental characteristic of open source software development, enshrined as a fundamental right in many license structures (Weber, 2004, p.64). The development community may split over differences, one group choosing to remain with the original project, others choosing to join the new emergent one. This fork may be the result of a fundamental difference in ideas of developers of a project, or it may be one user, or a small number of users 'forking' the code to create a version tailored to their own specific needs that may have little application to the wider community (Glass, 2005). This freedom and shared feeling of authorship – protected by open source licenses – is a significant change from proprietary software development models.

O'Mahony and West (2005) explore this concept of authorship through the study of two distinct types of open source project, which they name synthetic and organic. Organic open source projects conform to Raymond's (1999, p.3) itch-scratching maxim. They are projects that start small; from the desire of one person, or a small number of individuals, seeking to create software to meet their own needs, or simply for the joy of creating. They may expand dramatically – Linus Torvald's wish to create a simple operating system rather than use the Microsoft one that ran on his University's computers spawned the Linux family of operating systems that are the backbone of the storage servers of the world wide web, and has developers numbering in the thousands (Kelion, 2012) - but this expansion grows organically, with the number of developers growing in hand with the needs of the project (O’Mahony & West, 2005, p.11).

Synthetic projects (alternatively described as 'sponsored' open source project (O’Mahony & West, 2005; O’Mahony & West, 2008)) start from the wish of an existing organisation to use the open source development model to improve one or more of its products (O’Mahony & West, 2005, pp.14–15). MORE!

(Heaton & Proulx, 2011)

Monetery incentive? Amazon Mechanical Turk?

Weber (Weber, 2004, p.82) on how collaboration takes place in open source software development! And how they resolve disagreements (Weber, 2004, p.88). And on flaming! (Weber, 2004, p.175)

(Bauwens, 2012c) Defarmos' research on the organisational and governance structures of open source communities.

(Bauwens, 2012a) on the possibilities of a “P2P society”. - Bauwens on P2P in general, covering hierarchies, gift culture, interrelation to other modes of production, P2P and the market etc. - ^ Same article? – Exploration of forking of code as a vital component of open source software organisation and rights. – Eric Von Hippel papers MUST READ! – Exhaustive Michel Bauwens introduction to P2P, with good web 2.0 examples. – Ways for non coders to contribute to open source software projects.

Motivation within Open Source[edit]

What motivates individuals to contribute their time and skills voluntarily to open source projects is one of the most intriguing and researched aspects of the movement.

Raymond's (1999) assertion that “every good work of software starts by scratching a developer's personal itch” suggests the motivational roots of any open source project are pragmatic and borne out of individual satisfaction. This essentially selfish motivation; that individuals establish or contribute to projects that they find interesting or for personal use, in part explains why in typical open source projects the lions share of effort from contributors is targeted towards the core creation of code and bug-fixing, while secondary, but highly important, issues, like creating documentation or usability testing, are more often neglected (Shirky, 2005, p.485). This core work is what is needed to solve the key problems of the project, and amongst a community of individuals who enjoy the creative challenge of code, this is where the greatest satisfaction is to be found. However, simple gratification does not come close to explaining why huge numbers of people devote countless unpaid hours to the development of software.

Weber (Weber, 2004, pp.135–156) sets out six types of motivation that can be identified in contributors to open source projects:

  • Art and beauty
  • Job as vocation
  • The joint enemy
  • Ego boosting
  • Reputation
  • Identity and belief systems

- (Weber, 2004, pp.135–136)

He suggests that these overlap in a number of ways, and notes the inherent challenge in placing specific definitions on human motivations. However, they offer a starting point in describing some of the more universal aspects of motivation observed in open source software but perhaps applicable in other peer-produced models.

The first motivational type, that Weber describes as “art and beauty” links directly to the idea of gratification through creating something one is deeply invested in. Both Weber (2004, p.136) and Raymond (1999, p.31) talk of the desire of programmers to find elegant solutions to coding problems and understand how to fix troublesome faults, something akin to the thrill of the chase.

This joins into Weber's “job as vocation.” For many programmers, open source represents an extension of their professional lives, often inside commercial software developers. It is not just ideological free-radicals who contribute to open source projects. MORE, PERHAPS ON GOOGLE AND 20% TIME AND ANDROID ETC!

What Weber describes as “the joint enemy” and “identity and belief systems” go closely hand-in-hand. There is a strong sense of self-identification within the open source community, tending to clearly differentiate itself from the proprietary, commercial alternative. As discussed in section 2.1.3, the nature of this identity and its wider political role may be disputed, but nevertheless, as Stallman (1998) writes, discussing the Free Software Foundation differences with the Open Source Initiative, they may be “two political camps within the free software community,” but “the enemy is proprietary software.”

Lakhani and Wolf (2005), who undertook an extensive survey on the motivations of developers of open source software, suggest that writing by Stallman and Raymond and other leading open source figures; canonical texts such as The Cathedral and the Bazaar (Raymond, 1999), alongside the creation of strong licensing structures to support open source distribution, and shared working processes, have helped to form a common identity, one that contributors proudly connect with (Lakhani & Wolf, 2005, p.6). This is a culture that sees itself as made up of creative, resourceful, expert problem-solvers, joined together in a shared undertaking.

This self-belief contributes to Weber's (2004, pp.140–141) identification of an “ego boosting” motivation. There is, as within most creative fields, a significant competitive spirit in the open source community. Contributors seek to outdo one another in the quality of their efforts. This of course relates to the self-satisfaction expressed by open source contributors in the challenges of creating open source code and helps drive up output and quality as individuals seek novel and ingenious ways to solve problems. This goes alongside the motivational factor of “reputation.” The quality of code is of primary importance within the open source community. Contributors abilities are judged on the work that they bring to the project, and the better the code, the more reputation they will gain amongst other members. Reputation has two significant benefits (Lakhani & Wolf, 2005, p.27). Firstly, it will mean that one's contribution is more likely to be seriously considered by the project's key members and have a greater chance of being included into the overall product. This further adds to the chance to boost one's ego. Secondly, a high level of reputation within the open source community increases one's visibility in the commercial software market and increases the likelihood of employment opportunities. This is not always a large motivational factor; most respondents to Lakhani and Wolf's (2005) survey already had employment within the professional IT industry (2005, pp.8–9). However, it does help to explain in part the motivational possibilities in devoting significant time and effort to unpaid work by those who seek employment within the same field.

Weber (2004, pp.151–154), explores the issue of free-riding – the problem of individuals taking from a community without contributing – within the open source community, which has a strong belief in non-exclusion. Free-riding has strong detrimental effects on traditional production communities, contributors less motivated to work where their creations are consumed by individuals without fair recompense. Weber suggests that the nature of open source production counters this problem in two unique ways.

Firstly, because of the environment which this production takes place, the virtual environment of the internet, there exists an ability to infinitely reproduce the goods being worked on. Distributing these goods to a potentially infinite number of consumers is of equal (or at least virtually equal) cost. Distribution of an open source project is to those who wish to use it and many of those people are significant contributors to the project. In fact, enough of these people are contributors, and not purely consumers, that the production process is able to perpetuate. Motivation is largely reliant on a feeling amongst contributors that the project will be successful and achieve its aims. Distributing the open source software to everyone, and not just contributors, does not have a detrimental affect the chance of the product being a success.

In fact, Weber (2004, p.154) goes on to argue that quite the opposite is true; distribution to as many people as possible is actually beneficial to the success of a product. The priority of an open source development project is to achieve an effective software through the production of code. This occurs through the writing and re-writing of this code through evolutionary stages, and a process of identifying and fixing 'bugs' is vital to this. A greater user base provides the greater number of the “eyeballs” described in 'Linus' Law'<ref name="ftn5">Linus' Law, a maxim developed by Raymond (1999) is explained in section 2.1.2.</ref> who will weed out flaws and report them to individuals responsible for code re-writes. Although these reports might come from people who do not contribute to the code itself, they form an apparatus in its production. There are no free-riders in this culture predicated on the free distribution of its products.

Other studies have shed light on the various and, at times, highly abstract motivations that contributors cite as reasons for taking part in the Wikipedia project. Lai and Yang (2010) and Nov's (2007) surveys of Wikipedia editors, identify, alongside variations of the above motivations, a high response to the idea of an ideological motivation; that “information should be free” (Nov, 2007, p.63) and that contributing to Wikipedia represents a way to take part in delivering this idea. It seems that where a project represents a significant 'public-good'; contributing to a cultural commons of information and ideas, people feel inclined to take part. One of Wikipedia's great successes is in lowering the barrier to entry for potential contributors to simply an internet connection, and relative proficiency in a common written language. Fluency in code is much less important in this community. Weber (2004, p.272) agrees with the suggestion of ideological camaraderie, stating that contributors to open source projects are likely to hold strong moral support for the ideology of open source, motivated to contribute in part by the belief that they are taking part in an important and worthwhile process.

Raymond (2000), suggests that the open source movement can be characterised as a gift culture, one characterised by an abundance of production, liberally distributed as gifts. Raymond suggests that in this culture, reputation and status is determined “not by what you control, but by what you give away.” (Raymond, 2000, p.10).

Bergquist and Ljungberg (2001), studying Raymond's writing, elaborate on the concept of the gift culture, drawing on the theories of Mauss (1990). They expand on Mauss's ideas – which explored the giving of material gifts in a number of non-European societies – to explore the notion of gift-exchange in an environment of infinite reproduction and distribution; the internet.

Mauss (1990) argues that gifts are not exchanged within a society as a purely altruistic enterprise on the part of the giver. Instead, gifts create demand for a returning gift, which in turn creates social interdependencies that give rise to social structures. Gifts of a higher quality determine a higher status within this hierarchy. In the open source community, the gift is primarily in the form of code, and this helps to explain the seniority of the best programmers within the social hierarchy of open source projects. This gift culture has become a social norm within the open source community, experienced veterans inculcating this mindset into newcomers, known as “newbies” (Bergquist & Ljungberg, 2001, p.306).

Mauss's theory was built around the ideas of abundance and scarcity of materials in the physical world that were of value to people. Where materials are in abundance, the giving of gifts MORE!

Mauss and gift culture in a society with unlimited reproduction of gifts.

Coyne (Coyne, 2005) on Potlatch and the abundance of giving to the extreme and self-detrimental extent.

(Hyde, 2007) on the gift in the arts and art history.

Bergquist and Ljungberg (2001) link this concept to the culture of peer-review in the exchange of knowledge in the academic society. The motivations detected within this community share many of the characteristics of those within open source. Academics do not usually receive payment or royalties for articles submitted to journals. However, works of high quality are likely to be lauded and cited by other academics, leading to an increased reputation, that in turn might lead to further career progression (Bergquist & Ljungberg, 2001, p.318). The development of the peer-review system in this community represents a form of social organisation, peers collectively working to judge merit of the knowledge gifted, and apportion a relative level of acceptance and reputation. A similar, although more informal, process guides the development of the code in open source software project, and equally helps to form the social pecking order within a community; a better gift (code) meaning higher status.


Where to put a section on general understandings of the western (both British/European and American) philanthropic/charitable traditions (coming out of Victorian ideals/colonialism etc) and its relation to the economics/morality etc of open source and architecture.

Ideas of gift economy within a neoliberal setting? Mauss' exploration as the gift economy as primary and the market economy as secondary. But open source/peer-production models product must seem to have a public good? Or perhaps reputation building factor is enough to drive more commercially-type products? If the product generates money or other capital reward for the central organisation that is open-sourcing/peer-producing the product (that otherwise would be done as paid work by in-house employees) then this is a blatant exploitation of people's good will. In short, Wikipedia is good because what it produces is a public good and in the Commons, while something like Google crowdsourcing updates to its maps website (product and service reviews etc) is bad, as this is just reaping data that can be sold on in an information economy (even if these updates are something of a public good; improving the information to-hand of the public, this derives income for Google that is not shared with those who generate the information in the first place. By extension, Facebook, Google etc, farming the profile and search data of its users to sell onto third parties is just the same. This profile information is built by the users themselves, either consciously ('like'-ing favourite products/services/objects etc) or unconsciously (browsing the web and specific websites). Parallel to the great number of internships in modern architectural business, where young employes are unpaid for work that is equally valid to paid employes work, with the suggestion that the payment is made in 'reputation' i.e., a CV reference that may lead to a greater chance of paid employment at a later date.

O'Mahony and West (O’Mahony & West, 2005, p.16) on the concept of authorship and its affect on motivation.

Weber (Weber, 2004, p.65) on who participates on open source software design!

Amazon Turk, and the increasing introduction of monetary payment for open source work. Google and other organisations paying their staff to work on open source products. - The decline of wikipedia. Why contributor numbers are falling as motivation is sapped by the politicisation of topics, and the power of certain users and groups to dictate the editorial line of articles. Lack of new editors. Highly detailed and comprehensive articles on popular western subjects or tech, but minority subjects and non-western/non-english subjects poorly covered. Overly complicated and challenging process of socialisation for new contributors. – Study of Zooniverse platform of crowd sourced astronomical taxonomy identification, understanding motivations for crowd participants in the donation of time. Breaks down quantitively, the data on how users contributed to the various projects on the platform and the level of participation across the stratas of user type.

Novel Licensing and Legal Systems[edit]

“Property in open source is configured fundamentally around the right to distribute, not the right to exclude.” (Weber, 2004, p.16)

O'Mahony and West's (2005, p.7) definition of open source (explored in section 2.1.2) as an “intellectual property policy” is centred around the use of a number of specific software licenses that are approved by the Open Source Initiative (OSI) and the Free Software Foundation (FSF) as meeting the standards and ideals of the movement<ref name="ftn6">The Free Software Foundation and the Open Source Iniative both maintain almost identical list of approved licenses. Both are built around their respective definitions of free or open source software and the differences largely come down to slightly different license review processes and differences of opinion on efficiency and promotion of the open source model (see section 2.1.3 for political differences of the two organisations) (Guibault & Daalen, 2006, p.2; Weber, 2004, p.52).</ref>. These licenses support the distribution of open source programmes and the code that underlie them in a number of ways, with the basic requirement of an approved licence that it conform to the Open Source Definition (Perens & others, 1999) or the Free Software Definition (Free Software Foundation, 2012); that it be distributed royalty free, the source code made universally available, and that others may build upon the work provided that they release any derivative under the same terms (McGowan, 2005, p.362).

The open source model may be predicated upon the idea of freedom to knowledge and ideas for all, however, this ideology is not naive to the modern nature of property and authorship within the software industry,. As Lessig (2005a, p.266) argues, open source is dependent on copyright law, to protect the creators of code from infringement by commercial organisations, and to ensure that their creations remain free within the public realm. There is however, a fundamental re-organisation of the contents of these licenses compared to the copyright that protects proprietary software, one that changes the emphasis from the right to control the work and prevent others from appropriating it without charge, to an emphasis on the right to share it, and for it to remain free to all.

Lessig (2005b) draws upon the idea of the commons in his defence of this model:

“Open source or free software is software that lives in a commons. It is a resource that others can take, and use, without the permission of someone else; that, like the works of Shakespeare, is there for anyone to use as they wish without the permission of an owner - take, and use, and build upon to make something better, or better fitted to the particular needs of a particular context.”

(Lessig, 2005b, p.358)


(Joode, 2005, p.21) and (Weber, 2004, p.244) on the tragedy of the commons

The birth of this form of legal protection is the General Public Licence (GPL), developed by Richard Stallman in the 1980s, out of a desire to find a way to safeguard the sharing of software with friends and colleagues (Guibault & Daalen, 2006, p.8). He began programming his own operating system, GNU, as an alternative to the commercial software he found restrictive to the sharing of free software. He published the GPL in 1989, a licence that protected the distribution of GNU, ensuring that anyone who used the code and hoped to develop it themselves were obliged to release any adaption for free. Two decades later, the GPL remains one of the most widely used licence for protecting open source software (Kelty, 2011) and has never been successfully challenged in court (Guibault & Daalen, 2006, p.10).

As open source software has become increasingly widespread, the legal culture that surrounds it has grown in hand. The Creative Commons organisation has exported the ideas Stallman developed through the GPL to a suite of licenses, designed to protect cultural productions of all kinds, from software, to novels, to music (Aliprandi, 2010, p.14). These license are often described as having “some rights reserved” (Aliprandi, 2010, p.14), sitting somewhere between traditional copyright legislation and the public domain. Key is that the author does not relinquish her rights and instead uses an established legal mechanism to ensure that the work remains accessible to all.


McGowan's thorough description of legal issues of FLOSS (McGowan, 2005).

Weber (Weber, 2004, p.244) invokes Garrett Hardin's idea of the “tragedy of the commons”; that content producers will be demotivated by the lack of protections that mean they can not derive an income/be adequately rewarded for their work.

Euro specific take on open source licenses as well as general development of the movement (Guibault & Daalen, 2006) (Guibault & Angelopoulos, 2011). – Open source licenses summarised an explained – A lawyer's perspective on working with open source licenses. - The closing of previously open code by Google on the Android platform. How closing can be achieved simply by offering an upgrade, re-branded as a new product, and abandoning development of the previous code. – Motivation for developers to select a permissive licence. – Article covering use of language of open source licenses and how to make them more appealing/understandable.

Section Conclusion[edit]

This section explored the history and characteristics of the open source movement. Firstly, a number of definitions of the open source term were set out, that each expose different aspects for possible exploration. Next the evolution of the movement, and the differing political positions of the two primary organisations in its promotion, were described. The manner in which open source software development is typically organised, and the hierarchy of contributors was discussed next, before an exploration of the various motivations reported by individuals who take part. Finally, the legal mechanisms that have evolved alongside open source were discussed, highlighting the fundamental shift of emphasis from exclusion to free distribution.

Open source ideas may have developed within the esoteric world of software design, but the implications of some of the more fundamental aspects of the movement have clear potential in a variety of creative fields.

Each of O'Mahony and West's (2005) trinity of definitions; intellectual property policy, development model, and governance structure, contain lessons that might be applied to the work of architects. How architectural practices develop designs and make key decisions share a great similarity to the working processes of software programming, focussed instead however, around the development of drawings and representational material as opposed to computer code. The way in which architects then share these designs with the world is equally an area that can come under examination through the lens of open source. The possibilities of distribution of architectural design through new license structures is an area for further exploration.

The community of programmers who create open source software have been demonstrated to be highly self-identifying; proud of their contribution of high quality products to an increasingly receptive public, and view themselves as in opposition to the commercial and proprietary tradition of the software industry. Open source is more than a definition of a particular technical concept, it is a social movement, with its own internal disputes, ideologues, and agendas. It is, in part, because these ideas are universal; efficiency, communication, freedom, that the movement has begun to make significant inroads in other creative fields. For architects, one question raised by this strong sense of community and opposition to the establishment, is the extent to which an exploration of an open source architecture may flourish hand in hand with a similar culture of challenging orthodoxy within the architectural profession. Might an open source architectural movement regard itself as distinct and at odds with the traditional practice forms and methods?

Numerous types of motivation to take part in open source software development and peer-produced works like Wikipedia have been described; from strong ideological agreement to the concept of free cultural production, to the sheer enjoyment of creation. The most fundamental challenge in understanding the application of the model in many other fields, is that the vast majority of open source developers do not receive money in exchange for the work they do. In this gift economy, the ability to infinitely reproduce the products, and the abundance of hands to share the work, make such compensation unnecessary, and is a fundamental ingredient in allowing such volumes of work to be freely shared with the public. However, this model has not destroyed the commercial software industry and each have come to occupy a separate (but deeply inter-linked) market space. The potential for this model to expand within an architectural context is contingent on a sufficient number of individuals to willingly contribute their time and ideas to projects that might not generate a monetary income in the traditional sense. The issues of motivation for potential open source architects is an area rich for exploration.

Finally, building upon Stallman's General Public Licence, Creative Commons licenses have created legal mechanisms that extend the concept of sharing, rather than controlling and protecting, intellectual property to creations outside the realm of computer software. This fundamental rethink of copyright law allows individuals and organisations to remain rights holders of their works, but gift them to the public to be widely distributed and built upon. For architect's this raises questions of authorship and competition. It suggests a culture in which one might share a design, drawings and all, with the world, relinquishing control over what might be done with it; where it may be used and how it might be altered to suit another's needs.

The following chapter explores some of the growth of ideas derived from open source software, outside the computer industry, and some of the experiments by architects and urbanists that take key parts of the movement's ideology and working practices, and apply them to a new field with a view to exploring some of the above issues.

Open Source and Architecture[edit]




Nascent Open Source Architecture / Practice[edit]

Section Introduction[edit]


This section explores the migration of open source ideas from the realm of software design to the production of objects in the physical world and in particular the practice of architecture, introducing a number of projects that display characteristics of a nascent open architectural culture.

The section begins with an exploration of the growth of public perception and receptiveness to the ideas of open source and the increasing influence that individuals and organisations working in other fields have drawn from the movement. Next is a discussion on the comparisons between the characteristics of software and architectural design. A number of early definitions of open source in the realm of physical production are introduced before a number of projects that can be identified as having characteristics of open source architecture, in a series of case studies. These case studies each identify how concepts of openness are explored in each project and how they relate to the different definitions of open source.

The section/chapter concludes with a discussion of how this research fits within the overall narrative of this dissertation.

The Dissemination of Open Source Ideas[edit]

(Hendrickson et al., 2012) on the economic impact of the adoption of open source software, and the open source ecology of the internet upon small business. - The open definition, from OKFN. – Essay on the expansion of P2Pideas into the production, and reproduction, of physical things, touching on the ideas of the physical and digital commons.

The basic principle of open source; that knowledge, ideas and products can be developed and shared openly and freely, is not limited to the field of software design. As described in sections 2.2 and 2.5, open source has been closely compared to the peer-produced model of knowledge creation seen within the academic community (Benkler, 2002; Bergquist & Ljungberg, 2001; Weber, 2004). A great deal of attention, however, has been focussed on the open source software movement over the last few years by the mainstream media, which has gone hand in hand with excited press on the effect the internet is having on society (Weber, 2004, p.254). The growing familiarity of social networking and notable peer-produced websites like Wikipedia has meant the public are well versed in the idea of publicly edited and contributed content. Flickr, Youtube, and Soundcloud are all incredibly popular websites built primarily on the contributions of their users.

Weber (2004) talks of experiments in open-cola, openlaw, open music<ref name="ftn7"> – Open Source Music</ref> and any number of open content projects as drawing inspiration from open source processes and coming from a similar set of motivations. However, he argues that while these projects are interesting and valid 'forums' that offer a public database of ideas, they can not fully be described as open source as they are not “organised around the same property regime that makes the open source process distinctive” (2004, pp.267–268). Instead, they are an expression of optimistic language drawn from the growth of the internet and digital culture.

However, more recently, the release of Creative Commons licenses has provided intellectual property structures, derived from those that protect open source software, that offer content producers the ability to distribute nearly any cultural production in a manner that encourages free sharing and adaptability. Anything that can be covered by copyright; books, websites, photographs, video games, music and (crucially for architects) technical drawings – can all come under a Creative Commons licence (Aliprandi, 2010, p.39).

The concept of open source has been adopted in a number of ways that widen public awareness of the term. In the run up to the United Kingdom general election of 2010, the Conservative Party produced a policy green paper entitled Open Source Planning (2010), linking open source concepts of increased public interaction and transparency to policy change in the planning system. Whether the proposed changes did in fact echo the structures of open source software development, as claimed, are debatable, however, the appropriation of the term as a signal of political and systemic change is noteworthy. It is the concept of openness and particularly transparency that have appealed to politically-motivated groups, from OpenDemocracy to Wikileaks. Openness is contrasted with closedness; that a lack of transparency in public office or in other areas of public interest leads to a lack of accountability and risk of corruption. These ideas can not be described as falling under the definitions of open source identified earlier. They are however emblematic of a popular conception of open source as part of a wider movement of what Lessig (2005a) calls “free culture.” Lessig, who argues for re-examination of copyright legislation in response to the changes to conceptions of property brought about by the internet, describes his own writing on the subject as influenced by free software pioneer Richard Stallman (2005a, p.xv).

It is the internet that is the underlying commonality between all of these concepts. Open source as defined in earlier chapters may be a specific term related to the production and distribution of software or other cultural productions. However, it has developed alongside the growth of the internet, which has greatly changed how individuals share knowledge and resources.

Crowdsourcing (explained in section 2.2) is another term that has expanded from its origins within the field of computer MORE!

Crowdfunding as an open sourced tool for enacting non-computery activity.

Popularity of the idea of open source urbanism etc. seen in the recent establishment of TED's City 2.0, which mixes collective action, digital media and urban theory : . They award 6 grants of $10,000 in 2012 to fund projects which imagine improved urban situations, including the Wikihouse project.

Use of the idea of the “Hacker;” one who claims or reclaims materials and space without deferring to, or seeking assistance from, the traditional holders of these resources. Suggestions of tech-savvy, almost utopian-minded individuals and groups, who use the city and its architectures in a critical way, seeking change towards philosophy of greater openness and access i.e. Spray painting new bike lanes onto streets etc. (Badger, 2012)

This could be looked alongside the above political tool idea; that abdication of responsibility by state can be plugged by citizen action (big society etc.). This hacker rhetoric is interesting and has plenty of interesting resultant projects, but urban space, more political and contested than virtual/digital space, needs state or regional control to prevent impropriety. (Maybe getting a touch political here, find commentators).

Comparing the Characteristics of Open Source Software and Open Source Architectural Design[edit]

The open source community is home to a number of evangelicals, for whom the model represents a move towards a new society (Bauwens, 2012b; Prug, 2012). Shirkey (2005) notes caution in placing expectations on the concepts migration into fields beyond software development;

“Instead of asking “How can we apply Open Source methods to the rest of the world?” we can ask “How much of the rest of the world be made to work like a software project?” This is, to me, the most interesting question, in part because it is the most open-ended. Open Source is not pixie dust, to be sprinkled at random, but if we concentrate on giving other sorts of work the characteristics of software production, Open Source methods are apt to be a much better fit.”

  • (Shirky, 2005, p.487)

He suggests the analogy of recipe; something for which the instructions of its production are separate from the act of production itself. Where a creative process exhibits a similar split between the development and production, the methods and characteristics of open source might be explored with the greatest chance of finding relevance. However, he adds that this comparison between processes is not the only requirement. Open source software development has unfolded alongside the growth in access to the internet. Production communities have been founded and expanded where individuals might never meet one another face-to-face. The production of complex software requires numbers of people that, before the internet, required the resources of commercial organisations or university departments. Distributed communication allowed such numbers to come together to form sufficiently large groups to complete tasks needed to complete projects. Another key ingredient to the viability of open source in other fields, then, is how easily the work on a project can be distributed amongst a group and how easily work can take place when that group might be scattered in multiple locations.

The comparison between the development of software and that of architecture is relatively clear. Where software developers work together to write code, which is then compiled into a software product, architects collaborate around a number of drawings and models, which are then passed on to building contractors. Here is represented three distinct stages in the unfolding creative process; development of a product, construction of a product, and distribution of a product.

The first stage of this process can be most directly compared. The working environment of the modern architect and software code writer share a great deal of superficial similarity. In both cases, work takes place at a computer, working on representative materials that outsiders to that community have difficulty at interpreting. Multiple individuals may be working on these materials at the same time, and the group must develop a shared language of symbols and understanding of the goals of the project must be well communicated (Shirky, 2005, p.485). Benkler's (2002) assertion that a key requirement of software development is modularity in division of the overall project (as discussed in section 2.2) is an important comparative point. It is standard for an architectural practice to devote a number of staff to share the work on one project. A set of working drawings, models and other presentation materials allow modularity; where staff can be tasked with the production of one part of a suite of materials that are interlinked and all add to the complexity and sophistication of the final product.

The second stage of the creative process, the constructional phase, differs in one key respect. What joins both processes is the manner in which the group must relinquish control of the representational materials to a third-party, one that interprets these instructions and produces them for use. It is the nature of this third party that is greatly different.

In a software project, this 'construction' is undertaken by a non-human agent; a software compiler. Each of the component modules; code written by human software programmers in a working computer language, is aggregated into a single code in another language; one that is then readable by a computer operating system as an executable programme. In this aggregation process, if code is written incorrectly, the programme will simply fail to compile and the output will be useless. The compiler is a lightening fast constructor, but it is ruthless.

The typical construction process in the world of architecture is markedly different. There are two key reasons for this. One is the nature of the object to be constructed. The construction of a building quite clearly exists on a greater scale of production than computer code. The amount of time, effort and resources that must be devoted to the task of bringing physical materials to a site and creating the building from plans is hugely different from running a command on a computer interface.

The second important distinction between these two processes is the nature of collaboration and negotiation between the developer and constructor. Where a software compiler leaves no room at all for ambiguity in the instructions passed onto it, the same can not be said for the relationship between architect and building contractor. This is a relationship more greatly contingent on careful communication, negotiation and interpretation. There exist a well-established relationship between architects and those who construct their designs. Various legal codes and regulations direct the nature of this relationship, protecting each party. This demonstrates an inherent challenge of exploring the practices of open source software development in the field of architectural production. Put simply, there are wider range number of stakeholders invested in the construction and use of a building than there are in the production of software. Individuals who take part in open source software development rarely invest similar levels of capital into these projects that architects, contractors and clients do. Benkler's (2002) definition of open source as a commons peer-production model, in opposition to MORE!

The final stage in the creative process; the manner of the distribution of the product is again



Motivational issues that tie to the motivations of architects (supposed public good, thrill of the chase). Also the increasing culture of internship in the architectural profession. The chances to improve employment prospects through increased visibility perhaps a significant motivator to architecture students and graduates, already well used to selling themselves cheaply to gain good CV references.

Bruce Sterling suggests that the myriad of patents and intellectual property rights protecting even the most basic physical designs represent a huge minefield to open hardware or physical production. He gives the example of the challenges of making a burrito; the technology for just about everything, from raising the pig, to killing and slaughtering it, as well as all of the other ingredients are covered by some form of IP, even if the concept and the recipe itself are straightforward.

Stallman himself discusses the challenging nature of open hardware, early in the development of FLOSS, stating;

“I see no social imperative for free hardware designs like the imperative for free software. Freedom to copy software is an important right because it is easy now--any computer user can do it. Freedom to copy hardware is not as important, because copying hardware is hard to do.” -

Have his views changed with development and wide-distribution of fabrication technology (3D printers etc.)? Replication of hardware produced in this manner may not be 'zero-cost'; as he suggests is the case for software, however, the cost is reducing.

Changes to the law in the UK which may have impact on mass-replication and diy design: – Introduction to Christopher Alexander's Pattern Language for comparison to open source etc. - Brief History of Open Source Hardware Organizations and Definitions

Theodora Vardouli links! - OpenArchitecture(s): democratizing =(?) innovating [in progress] - Prolegomena – Her Masters Thesis on computational technologies for participative design. - Article on Open Source Architecture published in Leonardo. – Paper on the organisational characteristics of hackerspaces, in terms of comparing governance etc of physical spaces, to that of online commons-based open source production projects.

Definitions of Open Source within Architecture or Definitions of Open Source outside Software[edit]

The Free Software Definition (Free Software Foundation, 2012) and the Open Source Definition (Perens & others, 1999) both act as something like a bill of rights for open source software developers and users (Perens, 1999). They set out the basic definition of open source software, and each of the responsible organisations; the Free Software Foundation and Open Source Initiative respectively, act as guardian to these rights, determining which intellectual property licenses reflect the aims of the movement. These definitions specifically refer to the licence structure that are used in the distribution of product and code.

As discussed in section 2. 2, O'Mahony and West's (2005) three distinctions more widely integrate the ways in which organisation of labour and decision making occurs into the definition of open source. Each of these three components of open source


This section uses examples of open source architecture/hardware to establish definitions of the term, along the lines of O'Mahony and West (O’Mahony & West, 2005). Examples can be the OAN, this wikihouse thing, arcbazaar, open plans, open source ecology and the One Thousand Square Project (i.e. projects that have a distinct architectural focus and some physical successes, so not entirely speculative). I can also begin to draw in the more speculative or manifesto-like contemporary writings by practitioners etc., like (Davis & Sigrist, 2010; Shirky, 2005) and (Kaspori, 2005) and (Haque, 2002) and Ratti (Ratti et al., 2011)

The characteristics identified in section 2.1 (Social structure, Licensing/Law, Governing system, Motivation) all have analogous forms in architectural design.

Read (Vardouli, 2012) here for exploration of (Kaspori, 2005) and Ratti (Ratti et al., 2011)

Nickerson et al's exploration of crowdsource techniques applied to the design of physical objects. (Nickerson et al., 2011). And how to Crowdsource anything (Raford, 2010); the MIT Approach to Collective Intelligence.

Important to explain here how architectural design relates to software design and many forms of creative practice, in the idea of 'construction' of a representational language or code into a final end-product for use by consumers/end-users, citing Berry (Berry, 2004) and Shirkey (Shirky, 2005).

There are some precedent in creating a definition of an open source architecture, that of the Open Source Hardware (OSHW) Statement of Principles and Definition v1.0 (, 2012). This sets out both ideological and technical grounds for establishing a definition of open source hardware development, which might extend to the production of architecture, but is essentially a manifesto-like document, much like earlier open source discourses released by the OSM and FSF (Berry, 2004).

Domus magazine attempt to put together a definition of the term (Ratti et al., 2011). This starts out as a wikipedia article which attempts to explore the concepts involved. A capture of this becomes the printed article. The wikipedia entry remains as a debate of sorts on the subject (Wikipedia contributors, 2012a).

Ratti as the originator of the above and his use of the concept in artistic practice :

Definition of “practice”. Practice is understood as a context for production (rather than the professional or legal side of architecture, as it is largely taught) Raford

Bauwens on the political and economic implications of P2P and open source in the generation of value and profit, particularly in the realm of physical fabrication -

Benkler on the workarounds by non-gov's and profitable companies to failures of the state in the provision of vital system (examples are monitoring systems for issues such as human rights abuses or post-disaster mapping). What about the case of social housing etc. The role of the state to provide this 'profit-less' service, but could open architecture provide alternatives? Should it ever be the role of those other than the state to provide such infrastructure? -

Legal Aspects of Open Source Architectural Practice[edit]

Introducing some of the legal issues that surround the practice; issues of copyright etc.

(Weinberg, 2013) introduces the issue of copyright in relation to 3D printing and this extends to copyright on all physical productions. – The copying of Hadid designs in China, raising questions of architect's understanding of copyright, and a wider discussion on the need for copyright in the first place. Is this ever enforced?

Case studies of Open Source Architectural Platforms[edit]




This section presents 5 existing web based platforms that can be identified with advancing architectural design ideas. They are varied and each demonstrate one or more of the categories identified above. Each is introduced and a small graphic device below each title shows which of the open source characteristics are identified in each.

In each of the case studies, the characteristics identified are related back to those characteristics identified in section 2.1

Further to this, the initial questions of my research are touched upon ; who are the contributors, what do they do, how do they collaborate, how do they govern, what are they creating.

UN Studio possibly relaunching their website as an OPEN SOURCE knowledge base of some sort (seems highly unlikely!) -

A range of prominent open design projects - - Interesting lecture on open p2p design. - Open registry of land use and planning applications is England and Wales. - Play the City, a web platform for resident interaction in creative urban projects, built around ideas of gamification. - The Civic Crowd. A 00:/ Architecture Kickstarter Urbanism project. Seemingly a bit defunct. - A mapping web platform that is designed as a discussion space for people to add projects that they care about and add information on them. As the platform is not about proposing solutions or ideas, this seems most relevant to activism and local politics. It could be a space to organise protest against controversial private proposals. - Should I add Spacehive? Osensibly a crowdfunding platform, the “crowd” includes local authorities and philanthropic funds, with the public generally only adding a small minority of total project funding. Instead, this seems as much a way to promote projects and ensure buy-in. - What Moscow Wants, a Strelka institute project to create crowdsourced urbanism platform.

Interesting that ALL of these projects are web-based spaces, and only MAKLab, my primary study is a network that primarily operates out of a physical space! All platforms are spacialised in some way, either that they are focussed on changing physical space, or that design development is explored through physical creation in some kind of maker space.


Making :

WikiHouse, Open Source Ecology, One Thousand Square, Open Architecture Network, Arcbazaar (although this is different, more client-led commissioning)


Design Buildings Wiki


Open Plans, Brickstarter

Arcbazaar[edit] - Governance Model

Arcbazaar is a 'crowd-sourced' architectural design system, that allows potential clients to begin competitions on its web platform, with the architects fee representing a sort of prize that is divided amongst 'winning' architect and the second and third placed entries.

Need to define how this relates to earlier definitions of open source. Perhaps in its novel structure of governance? Or is it simply a slightly newer version of existing competition practices in architecture, put into an online environment?

Allusion to Raymond's (Raymond, 1999) bazaar structure.

Criticism : The AJ article by Merlin Fulcher (Fulcher, 2011).

Look for resources defining crowd-sourcing :

(Pór, 2004) and (Howe, 2008)


  • Who are the Contributors? :
  • What do they do? :
  • How do they collaborate? :
  • How do they govern? :
  • What are they creating? :

Wikihouse[edit] - Definitions : Open Object, Coordination Tool

Wikihouse is a web platform where designers can contribute and work upon Wikihouse relates to two of the definitions of open source from O'Mahony and West (O’Mahony & West, 2005). Firstly, it uses the creative commons licensing model, which in turn describes the open source element as the object undergoing design and the drawings etc which allow it to be constructed, all of which, idea and 'code', are shared freely. Secondly, as a web platform that allows multiple individuals to contribute and collaborate, it falls into the category of a development platform. – lazy like a fox apporach to open source/innovation. Evolution rather than re-invention.

It relies upon heavily technical drawings and digital data for use in programmes such as Google Sketchup and hardware such as CNC machines and is such a platform for trained individuals. Contribution is limited to those who are fluent in the languages used by these systems.

GOOGLE GROUP:!forum/wikihouse

Recipient of one of TED's City 2.0 $10,000 grants.

Currently developing Brazil project :

US example – ongoing, crowdfunded project to build small mobile 'microhome', initially in Colorado : - New England Wikihouse.

Oxford WikiHouse : :

Spoke Creator! Parametric design tool with intuitive user interface for the quick creation and editing of Wikihouse and OpenDesk designs : - Alistair Parvin interview. – Alistair Parvin lecture at OuishareFest. – Alistair Parvin Lecture at Fabrica. – Alistair Parvin manifesto. - Alistair Parvin interview on Archdaily. - Alistair Parvin interview.

Wikihouse technology possibly to be used in the next stage of development on Open Source Ecology project.

  • Who are the Contributors? :
  • What do they do? :
  • How do they collaborate? :
  • How do they govern? :
  • What are they creating? : – Critique from Eric Hunting who criticises the apparent 'showiness' of the site owner's development model, which is a more traditional marketing style 'launch' rather than the sharing of files as in other open source projects. - Trent Bank speculative student scheme, which uses wikihouse as a base platform for a self-sufficient, self-build neighbourhood in Nottingham. - Spacecraft are an NZ company, developing Wikihouse in a regional context. : Similar project by Enviu, in as much that the competition results are released under an open source license so that they can be used and adapted in humanitarian/developing situations.!topic/wikihouse/nB1i-R-FmKw – In action as a pedagogical tool at a school, for children and architecture students.

Pattern books and systems in architecture as early examples of resources for architects that were shared without particular copyright to ease and improve architectural design. How did copyright work in this area? – Detailed time-lapse of wikihouse construction in New York for Makerfaire. – Indy Johar talk for A+DS summary.

Open Plans - DEPRECIATE[edit] - Definitions : Coordination Tool, Governance Model

Open Plans is an organisation that has developed a range of web based tools that open source governmental and transport data for use by citizens, to improve the systems around them, share news and local problems and open the discussion on urban development to a far wider range of voices. Like Wikipedia, the system is developed to be as accessible as possible and suggests the possibilities of a model of governance (the third category described by O'Mahony and West (O’Mahony & West, 2005)) that opens greater data to the public realm and crowd-sources opinion and ideas to provoke political, social and physical change to urban areas. - The community projects platfrom. Manager for community projects. The code is on Github!

  • Who are the Contributors? :
  • What do they do? :
  • How do they collaborate? :
  • How do they govern? :
  • What are they creating? :

Open Source Ecology[edit] Definitions : Open Object, Coordination Tool

Like Wikihouse, Open Source Ecology is a platform that engages technically skilled contributors in the creation of hardware, in this case with the aim of developing tools for the creation and maintenance of communities and agriculture. This model again follows the description of open source as a licensing model that allows designs and the data that underlie them to be shared openly and freely, while providing a development platform in the form of a 'wiki' – a series of web pages containing descriptions and data that are editable by all contributors. - OSE hire architect as project developer.


  • Who are the Contributors? :
  • What do they do? :
  • How do they collaborate? :
  • How do they govern? :
  • What are they creating? :

Open Architecture Network (or Worldchanging)[edit] - Open Object, Coordination Tool, Governance Model?

(Anderson & Williams, 2007)

  • Who are the Contributors? :
  • What do they do? :
  • How do they collaborate? :
  • How do they govern? :
  • What are they creating? :

Use of open source technologies like Open Street Map and crowd sourcing of data collection as part of their operations ( This adoption of open source software and other products is not limited to practices that engage in open source architecture. Anyone might use these tools, but the technical implications of platforms that are more transparent and less proprietary (think Autocad etc.) and that encourage open and accessible standards in data are potentially wide ranging (although, a topic for another essay perhaps).

Early coverage (Livingston, 2008). Including interviews with key people. – Description of the use of Creative Commons by the organisation. – Review of project.

Dreamhamar[edit] (now defunct)- Open Object, Coordination Tool, Governance Model

Has this been renamed Dreamhamar? ;

(Ecosistema Urbano & Lluis Sabadell Artiga, 2011a; Ecosistema Urbano & Lluis Sabadell Artiga, 2011b)

Borrows from Barrie's (Barrie, 2010) Open Source Place making essay.

The One Thousand Square Project is an experiment in participative design of an public square and its facilities in the municipality of Hamar in eastern Norway. It uses a web-based platform that invites users to vote on potential temporary projects, designed by contributors from around the world. - Great photo album of projects.

  • Who are the Contributors? :
  • What do they do? :
  • How do they collaborate? :
  • How do they govern? :
  • What are they creating? :


Brickstarter[edit] - Coordination tool, Governance Model

Brickstarter is a

Way to monetise creative projects (particularly in the field of architecture, other than developing a piece of intellectual property and fiercely defending it. - Failed projects, why?

Other Kickstarter style projects? : spacehive (

(, 2012; UKIE, 2012) Reports on efficiency of crowdfunding.

(Lange, 2012) Criticism of kickstarter urbanism. AND. – further criticism from Lange.

Review by Maly (Maly, 2012) - Other discussion on Kickstarter Urbanism merits.

Really good set of images that give form to the idea and suggest the community and platform nature of it :

Specific to the socio-political context of Finland (large belief in social responsibility and strong state action)?. Suggestion of crowdsourcing not just for the finished project (small, local) but to raise debate and financing and political will for investigative projects (big, national, example given of feasibility studies into renewable programmes).

UK equivalent and What can government learn from crowdsourcing

Crowd-built maps of desired development in Helsinki -

What happens next?

  • Who are the Contributors? :
  • What do they do? :
  • How do they collaborate? :
  • How do they govern? :
  • What are they creating? :

Design Buildings Wiki[edit] – A wiki for UK clients, practitioners and students in the field of architecture, that seeks to build a common directory/encyclopaedia on all issues related to designing and building. This knowledge can be viewed as knowledge retention/development on practice issues that all practices undertake (or at least should undertake). This is part of how practices practice, and might impact upon the development of the field.

Note: The website is 'sponsored' by a number of commercial entities. Must look into this. Could be typical example of essentially well-meaning corporate sponsors building a database that is only 'open' for as long as, and in whatever manner, the choose it to be. i.e. Not really open at all.

Paperhouses[edit] - 'Open Source' architectural 'blueprints'. Interesting for calibre or names involved from the commercial architectural profession.

Issues – What are blueprints in this instance? How are they licensed? How are they adaptable? ie. What is open and what is source? – Using paperhouses in extension context, talks about the need to customise and consider design in a local context framework.

Coverage -

Case Study Conclusions[edit]

What can be concluded about these? Do they show similar trends/ideas expressed? Can they be described as forming a culture with a shared identity like that in open source software?

Tools for Open Source Architectural Practice[edit]

This practice is contingent on new tools that allow remote collaboration. These tools are not exclusive to open source architectural practice; they might be used in all commercial and other architectural settings – and increasingly are (BIM etc.). However, they need to be discussed as the shape of any future practice in reliant on new forms of collaboration/practice structure.

OpeningDesign platform (Livingston, 2012)

Bob Kerr explains OpenStreetMap

Section Conclusion[edit]

Open Source and the Contemporary Architectural Profession - Profession[edit]



  • Social : Relationship between a social community (architectural practice) and its working practices (architectural design)
  • Social : Wider, looking outside practice to society (architectural profession) and embedded power/agency.

I will have introduced in the previous section the social forms of open source and the technical practices of open source software development and the potential for them to be explored within architecture. This chapter steps back from the micro (specific working practices and social construction at a one-to-one/small community scale) to the macro of the architectural profession and explores how codification of architectural practice differs from that of a culture of software design, providing greater limits on practice, for both good reasons (accreditation, indemnity, cpd etc.) and less good reasons (protection, exclusivity etc.)

Section Introduction[edit]

An increased focus within the architectural community of the social importance and potential of Pro Bono work, although from a distinctly charitable, western perspective (Peterson et al., 2010).

Ralph Erskine.

Jenkins and Forsyth (Jenkins & Forsyth, 2009) on participation in architecture.

'Code' within Architecture or The 'Source' within Architecture[edit]

(Picon et al., 2004)

The curious case of intellectual property theft of Autocad drawings :

Intellectual Property in relation to 3d designs and architecture – in the UK, managed through Registered Design Protection. . Drawings, files and other representational material come under traditional copyright legislation. Must look into the legal landscape in the specific field of architecture. How often is copyright challenged in building design?

(Coyne, 1999) on code, drawing on theories of Lacan; that what can be symbolised/abstracted in this manner is not 'real'.

The Contemporary Architecture Office and the Open Source Architect[edit] - Bryan Boyer on “Brute force architecture” as compared to computing. The connection to the idea of many hands pushing the development of creative work forward. In the context of modern architecture practice, the methods of OMA typify this concept. Internships of fresh architecture graduates willing to work long hours for minimal compensation are able to produce a huge number of ideas and work, allowing multiple concepts and developments to be explored and then selected by more senior staff. A rigid and arguably exploitative and damaging hierarchy. Damaging in that it breeds a culture of under-rewarding junior architects, a cycle that continues for each subsequent generation. - Andrew Maynard further explores architectural exploitation and a damaging culture of expectation and over-work for under-pay, particularly in terms of the effect this has on groups who this exploitation and low job-protection most affects (women, individuals from lower economic backgrounds). Produces a pattern of access largely to white, middle-class males, and those most willing to accept (happily or otherwise) the late-working office culture. - Debate around the definition of 'architect'.

Section Conclusion[edit]

Methodology[edit] – Overview of autoethnography. – Autoethnography book – Creating Autoethnographies. – Autoethnography essay. – Handbook of Autoethnography. – Memoing and note taking.

Chapter Introduction[edit]

This chapter discusses the methodological approach taken in this research. The primary questions that guide the research are introduced, alongside a number of discussion points that are generated in this dissertation. The strategy and design of the research is discussed, exploring the methods selected, the reason for these choices, and the limitations of each. This includes discussion on the ethical implications of this research and an exploration of previous research that has formed precedent for this dissertation.

Research Questions[edit]

This dissertation/thesis is an exploration of the potential of an open source architectural practice. That is, a form of architectural practice that draws on ideas developed within the open source software community; issues of production model, governance and intellectual property, amongst others.

Primarily, it is a goal of this research to establish whether existing architectural projects, like those described in Chapter Three, and the individuals who take part in them, have established a distinct model of architectural production, and examine the effect this model has on its practitioners relative to more established forms of architectural practice.

Towards this end, the primary research questions guiding this dissertation/thesis are:

  • Can the emergence of a model of open source architectural practice be described as representing a distinct culture, with its own set of characteristics which can be demonstrated to have an identity that is distinct from traditional/wider architectural practice?
  • If so, what are the implications for the wider architectural profession in the emergence of this model?

The emergence of this model raises a number of secondary questions:

  • Which aspects of the open source production model developed in the field of software design have provided avenues of exploration within architectural design processes?
  • Does the practices of the Glasgow based design and fabrication studio, MAKLab (and in particular its work as part of the WikiHouse project, development of open source mapping/modelling etc.) provide a prototypical model to study the social and technical implications of open source architectural practice – and what lessons can be learned from this study?

In light of evidence raised by these questions, a number of discussion points are also explored:

  • Who are the people that contribute to an open source architectural practice?
  • What motivates these individuals to take part in the process?
  • What do these people do, exactly?
  • How do they collaborate with one another?
  • How do these people resolve disagreements and reach decisions?
  • In the context of architecture, what is it that these people are working together to create?

These questions are adapted from Steven Weber's book The Success of Open Source (2004, p.56), itself an exploration of the emergence of the open source software movement. They place this research as a social survey of an emergent design model, itself part of larger creative communities. This social survey takes form as a period of engagement by the author with a number of projects based within and around the MAKLab studio and attendant digital spaces, and involves participation with a range of individuals and organisations in order to develop a profile of the open source architect and practice.

Research Strategy and Design[edit]

This research is set in the traditions of qualitative social research. In attempting to explore the contemporary practices of architects and others invested in the production of the built environment, this research is primarily focussed on the first hand observation and collection of data related to architects and urbanists within their working environments.

This dissertation approaches the subject from the theoretical perspective of symbolic interactionism (Crotty, 1998, pp.72–78), set within a constructionist epistemology (Groat & Wang, 2002, p.33). This, as described by Crotty (1998, p.42), is foundational in the understanding of knowledge; that it “is contingent upon human practices, being constructed in and out of interaction between human beings and their world, and developed and transmitted within an essentially social context.” The practice of architecture; the production of ideas, representations, and the resultant objects within the built environment, is understood as a process that is inherently linked to social interaction.

The social process of architects have been previously explored within the commercial office practice environment, with research undertaken using a number of ethnographic methods (Cuff, 1991; Yaneva, 2009b; Yaneva, 2009b). Through these texts, the social processes of architecture can be understood through observation of the architect at work, how they generate and communicate ideas, and the environments and structures that surround them and facilitate this production.

This research is primarily interested in understanding the 'culture' of an open source architectural practice. Foremost, is establishing that such a culture exists; that it is sufficiently distinct from existing architectural (or other design) practices to be described as having what Groat and Wang (2002, p.182) describe as “human validity”. In order to establish this, this research makes use of ethnographic processes to gather what Geertz (1973) describes as the “thick description” of open source architectural practice; a thorough portrait and understanding of practices and relationships through prolonged engagement with, and experience of, the processes and individuals involved (Barab et al., 2004, p.259).

In order to establish this distinctiveness, a range of issues come under examination. Firstly, an understanding of the technical arrangement of open source architectural design is important; how co-ordination and production take place in this model. This is what is primarily unique about the open source production model, characterised by less centralised co-ordination and communication between collaborators and adoption of novel forms of intellectual property rights. This description of technical points encompasses many of the issues of open source software development described in section 2; how open source architectural projects are organised, how decisions are made, and how the resultant products and underlying code are distributed.

However, other issues are important in determining the distinctiveness of open source architecture as a cultural phenomenon, beyond simply a model of production. These can be framed around a number of important questions. Do open source architects think of themselves differently from traditional architectural professionals? If so, is that because of how they work (de-centralised, through the internet, use of creative commons etc.), or why they work (common focus on social responsibility, humanitarian work etc.)? Do different groups of open source architects (using different platforms, seeking different solutions) regard themselves as occupying a shared space; do they identify with one another in their aims and techniques? If so, do they regard themselves as distinct from the wider architectural profession? Do they regard themselves as being at odds with it, or, as part of the same continuum, all working towards the same goal; shaping the built-environment? These questions are built around issues of self-identification, definition and motivation, each integral to the delineation of open source software development (as described in section 2) as a community, rather than just a model of production.

Establishing the research field[edit]

MAKLab is a multi-disciplinary design studio and maker space, based within The Lighthouse in Glasgow. The space within this large gallery building, from which MAKLab operates, is filled with a range of fabrication tools, from hand-saws and power-tools, to 3D printers, CNC-routers and laser cutters. The organisation operates a membership scheme, where students, individuals and small enterprises can pay an annual fee to gain access to these tools at a discounted rate. Within the space, a great number of projects are worked upon, including the design of jewellery, consumer products, electronic systems and furniture. Many of the tools used within the studio come from the hacker and open source community, including the RepRap<ref name="ftn8"></ref> and MakerBot<ref name="ftn9"> - While early MakerBot device designs and software were shared using open source licences, the organisation has recently moved away from this model, towards a more traditional commercial, proprietary one;</ref> 3D printers. A number of member projects based within the space build upon open source design and data and are subsequently distributed through open source methods.

The organisation also has a team of employees and volunteers who undertake commissioned, collaborative and self-initiated design and fabrication projects. This team includes individuals from a number of different backgrounds including architecture and product design, and the volunteer programme is largely made up of students and recent graduates of university art and design courses.

The projects that MAKLab undertake are of a varied level of technical and design sophistication. Many projects involve the organisation simply using their fabrication facilities to build a client's design project, while others involve a greater level of design input, working more collaboratively with a client to explore and develop solutions, as well as involving the client in hands-on fabrication themselves. While the organisation has no explicit position on the distribution of projects as open source, its founder has expressed ideological support for the open source movement and wider maker movement (Newlands, 2013).

Open source projects that I am involved in and their variable ownership/authorship and relation to MAKLab (fluidity!).

There are two projects which make up the specific engagement that forms the central objects of study in this research. This research is based primarily within the MAKLab studio in Glasgow, however, for both projects the MAKLab organisation is only one of a number of stakeholders within the project. Each project is summarised below, introducing the projects backgrounds, aims, and stakeholders. How each project fits within the wider theoretical enquiry of this dissertation is also discussed.


Stalled Spaces/Open Mapping Project[edit]


The PROJECT NAME is a project initiated by MAKLab director Bruce Newlands and stewarded by the organisation.

The central vision of the project involves the establishment of a platform for the identification of 'stalled spaces'; stalled building-sites and vacant spaces within the urban fabric, for which small-scale interventionary social and architectural projects can be proposed.

Project background[edit]

Glasgow City Council runs the Stalled Spaces – Temporary Landscapes initiative<ref name="ftn10"> </ref> to provide funding to resident and community groups who propose temporary uses for such spaces. Funding has previously been secured for a number of projects including community food growing spaces and gardens, public art, children's play areas, and sporting facilities (Glasgow City Council, 2012).

Project aims[edit]

The initial aim of the project is the establishment of tools that enrich the process of discovering and evaluating potential spaces for Glasgow City Council funding through the development of mapping tools that allow residents and other interested parties to identify sites and suggest temporary uses. The project involves collaboration between the team at MAKLab and members of the Scottish network of the OpenStreetMaps community. OpenStreetMaps<ref name="ftn11"></ref> is a web-based mapping service. All of the data contained within OpenStreetMaps is released under the Open Data Commons Open Data Licence<ref name="ftn12"> </ref>, and the data is collected and added to the map by members. Acting much like a wiki, this platform allows individuals to add details about their local area or places of interest, and the data can be used by individuals and organisations for free, providing correct attribution is given. Within the United Kingdom, a number of local authorities and the Ordnance Survey have donated data, adding to the sophistication and relative 'completeness'<ref name="ftn13">The OpenStreetMaps community use a number of measurements to judge this completeness, while acknowledging the inevitable impossibility of a completely accurate map - </ref> of the map. It is an ambition that the data that contributes to this project emerge from open sources, ones which local communities will not have to pay royalties for, ensuring that the tools developed to assist in the process of site identification and evaluation are not prohibitively costly.

Alongside a web-based, local community-developed map of potential sites, the project has involved experimentation in the production of representative materials, primarily physical and digital three dimensional models, derived from the data contained within OpenStreetMaps. The eventual aim of these experiments is to develop a set of tools that would allow community groups and other organisations to construct and acquire architectural models of local areas. These models would be derived from data collected by the community and fabricated directly using modern fabrication technology such as 3D printers and laser cutters. In the context of community groups seeking funding for projects through the Stalled Spaces initiative, a low cost, low barriers-to-entry technology is desirable, essentially democratising the process of architectural model making. It is imagined that this tool could 'spin-off' for uses in similar contexts.

Development of this concept was largely made through an attempt to create a prototype model of the Gorbals area of Glasgow. Two models of the same area were created for two organisations based in the area; the local office of the Glasgow Housing Association and a local charity, The Gorbals Youth Café, a youth group for locals aged between ten and twenty five. The identical models were produced by the MAKLab team, including a number of staff and volunteers, members of the OpenStreetMaps community, and with some assistance by members of the youth group.

A second stage of the project involves engaging communities in the design and fabrication of interventions, taking advantage of MAKLab's facilities and expertise, connecting community stakeholders with individuals who can help them to develop and deliver feasible social and architectural projects. As a great deal of the data and knowledge inputs into this project come from open sources, it is intended to add value to these sources by releasing project data and documentation using similar distribution methods. THIS ELEMENT OF THE PROJECT IS STILL EMERGING, MORE TO ADD LATER.

Project stakeholders and participants[edit]

The project was initiated by Bruce Newlands, director of MAKLab, as an open invitation to those interested in open data mapping and architecture. Initial respondents included the author and Tim Foster, a member of the OpenStreetMaps community. Through Foster, connections to the local community of members<ref name="ftn14">The OpenStreetMaps Scotland group, based around the country's central urban belt, meet regularly for social and mapping events - </ref> of the website were established.

The exploration and development of OpenStreetMaps data as a generator of digital 3D representations for physical fabrication was led primarily by the members of this community and the author in discussion with Bruce Newlands and other interested parties. Discussion of the requirements and aims of this development took place through a number of social meetings and email discussion threads.

The MAKLab team led the fabrication of the two architectural models, in particular staff members Matthew Paton and Richard Clifford and volunteers ?? and Debra Choong . A large array of other people associated to MAKLab assisted in fabrication of the models in one way or another, including volunteers and passers-by. A small number of members of the Gorbals Youth Café assisted for a short time in the fabrication process.

The Glasgow Housing Association and the Gorbals Youth Café acted as client for the project, to whom the final models were to be delivered. The Glasgow Housing Association donated materials to be used in the fabrication process.

Relevance to research[edit]

This project involved engagement in an emerging social network of individuals and organisations from a range of different backgrounds, including architects, designers from other fields, map makers, charities, local authorities and local/residents. The immediate project outputs include architectural representational materials and a longer term aim is the implementation of a design community that uses open source data and methods to develop creative projects and distribute them.

This engagement allowed significant observation of participants to understand the formation of such a network; how individuals came to find their place within a hierarchy, how group goals and aims were set and decisions made. The author's experience as part of the project team, working closely with numerous individuals allowed insight into the factors that motivated people to take part.

Hands-on involvement with the use and production of tools and materials allowed an understanding of the technical implications of architectural design for open source productions; in particular the development of existing open source tools and data-sets (OpenStreetMaps in particular) for use in an architectural context, and the challenges of using crowdsourced data.

The project also touched on a number of side issues that have relevance to studies of the open source software development community and early open source projects identified in earlier chapters of this dissertation, such as authorship and control of project data and development, and MORE!

Issues! :


Community engagement in architectural practices

Open data for architects/practitioners – inputs and outputs – adding to commons


Social role of the architect


WikiHouse<ref name="ftn15"> </ref> is a web-based platform for the development of architectural designs that are distributed using Creative Commons licenses. The project was founded by Alistair Parvin and Nick Ierodiaconou of London based strategic design consultancy, 00:/. The project is described in greater detail in section of this dissertation.

Project background[edit]

In July of 2013, MAKLab built a version of the WikiHouse within its studios. The team downloaded one of the set of project files on the WikiHouse website, a design called the Gwangju Prototype, which was previously constructed for the Gwangju Design Biennale in September 2011. This file contained data that allowed building elements to be cut from sheets of 18mm plywood by the studio's CNC router. These elements could them be fitted together in the studio to form a small podium and shelter space.

This component of the engagement process allowed significant opportunity to study the nature of collaboration on one centrally stored set of architectural design computer files and how a group of individuals based within the physical construction space interacted with and interpreted the data and intentions of those who developed the design elsewhere before distributing it digitally. The stakeholders in this project included 5 members of MAKLab's staff and 12 volunteers, as well as a range of people who were involved in the development of the digital files previous to construction.

Project aims[edit]

While the construction of the WikiHouse, in this particular instance, was a one-week experiment to generate a promotional and practical facility for the studio, MAKLab have acted as a node in the wider WikiHouse development project. Each iteration of fabrication of a WikiHouse allows data and ideas to be gathered that can be fed into the further development of the technology. This project provided a tangible physical output for the team, and the challenges involved in the creation of the WikiHouse were to be reported back, and changes made to project data to improve the process for the next group to use them.

Project stakeholders and participants[edit]

The stakeholders and participants in this project can be divided into two sections. Firstly, there is those who helped establish the Wikihouse platform and provided specific initial design of the digital fabrication files that were placed on to the website for download by others. A community of architects and designers have helped to develop the WikiHouse technology and apporach and have contributed in large and small ways to the design as it was downloaded by the MAKLab team for fabrication.

The second section of participants were those who attended the construction process in the MAKLab studio. This was lead by the staff, particularly Richard Clifford and Matthew Paton. In total, 17 people assisted in some way with the hands-on fabrication and assembly of the structure in the studio. The resultant WikiHouse was property of the MAKLab team and has become a fixture within the primary studio space.

Relevance to research[edit]

This engagement allowed significant opportunities for observation of participants engaged in the design and fabrication of a piece of rudimentary architectural design which is shared using licences developed directly from the open source movement. This engagement allowed the author to act as part of a design team consisting of members of the MAKLab staff and volunteers. This study provide insight into the mechanisms of informal hierarchy in the fabrication of a piece of open source architecture within a studio engaged with, and employing, open source technologies and techniques. Autoethnographic experience of use of tools and of the spaces of design and fabrication were an element of this engagement.

This study in particular allowed the exploration of a design process sited in multiple environments, both physical and digital. How the social network of this fabrication process was expanded and enriched through a digital platform was explored, to gain an understanding of how through digital and physical space complimented one another.

issues! :

  • Authorship
  • Digital/Physical Collaboration
  • Hierarchies/pecking orders
  • interactions with tools
  • motivation
Why MAKLab?[edit]

This organisation, and specifically the author's engagement with the above projects, represents the primary object of study in this research. A period of engagement was undertaken which allowed prolonged observation of the organisations membership, employees and volunteers and wide network of collaborators. This engagement also included hands-on involvement in the design, fabrication, documentation and dissemination of project materials. The authors personal experiences of working with open source architectural data and tools, set amongst a team engaged with the production of architectural materials, and of the spaces – both physical and digital – that this engagement operated in, all represent elements of the overall body of this research.

The selection of this organisation, the individuals who populate it, and the above projects as the primary objects of study is justified as a response to the wish to explore the nature of social and technical aspects of architectural practice borrowing from and expanding ideas from concepts of open source.

MAKLab is a multi-disciplinary design studio, made up of practitioners of different academic and professional backgrounds. It is not an architectural practice, having no membership with relevant professional bodies. It includes amongst its staff and volunteers registered qualified and student architects alongside product and furniture designers, graduates of artistic and craft subjects, hobbyists, and many others. Most of the projects that the organisation undertake are not architectural in their nature. However, as explored in chapter 3 of this dissertation, the migration and development of concepts of open source into the field of architecture is at a nascent stage. This development is taking place largely at the fringes of architectural practice. Their exists challenges within the larger commercial field of professional architecture to the immediate exploration and application of such ideas.

MAKLab is not proposed in this research as a typical open source architectural practice. Rather, as an organisation, and in collaboration with others, they are undertaking projects that explore one or more prototypical aspects of open source architectural practice. Concepts of open source developed as a hobbyist practice at the fringes of the field of computer software development, and as explored in chapter 3, a similar phenomenon in architecture exists presently at the fringes of the field.

Engagement with specific projects centred around the network of individuals based within and outside of MAKLab allows a portrait of both individuals and networks to be developed, which helps to answer the questions established in this dissertation.

Research Methodology[edit]

This research uses a number of methods to explore these issues, largely built around ethnographic techniques of participant observation. These methods are summarised below, with a brief explanation of the reasons for their selection and their limitations:

  • The study of discourses produced by open source architects has been undertaken in order to determine if language and ideas conveyed by individuals involved express concepts of self-identity and distinction from the wider architectural community. Engaging in discourse analysis of these texts, the choice of language of the authors is explored to look for indicators of self-identity and distinctness. Berry's (2004) equivalent study of identification within the software development community identified political ideologies of freedom, community and ethical responsibility in the discourse of prominent software development figures. Powers (2001, p.64) describes the limitations of this type of discourse analysis as inherent to any form of interpretative research. Multiple interpretations of any discourse are possible when approaching from different perspectives.
  • Semi-structured interviews and questionnaires with actors within organisations identified as engaging in open source architectural practice, in order to establish views on issues of motivation, politics, and definition. This method allows a free-flowing rapport between researcher and subject to emerge that produces a great deal of data. While initial questions are set up to guide the research, the freedom to follow tangents and related ideas allows fresh perspectives to enter the research process. The challenges of this sort of research is related both to the difficulty in analysing a great depth of data that might stray across a wide range of ideas, and the problems of the researcher/subject relationship affecting or shaping the subjects responses, even in an unconscious way.
  • Participant observation within projects identified as displaying characteristics of open source architectural practice allowed the exploration of inter-relationships of identified actors, the nature of their working processes, the methods of governance; in total, a thorough ethnography of this design community. Groat and Wang (2002, pp.182–183) describe this method as generating “context-rich detail” of the research subject; a great deal of data that can be analysed to understand the meanings and processes of human actions. Again challenges of analysis of the great deal of data created are central to the limitations of this method. As the researcher is connected to the subjects as an observer, the ethical implications of their role is an important point of discussion.
  • Participation within and autoethnography of the above process; the author's experience of the processes of open source architectural design, with particular focus on an understanding of the technical working methods of this practice and the social relationships underlying the community. As with the above participant observation method, the relationship between researcher and subject is a point of ethical consideration. While a participant observer may be able to take the standpoint of being either an insider or outsider of the group being studied, an autoethnographic participation is reliant on the researcher working directly as part of the group to achieve its aims. Issues of reliability and objectivity are paramount in validating this research undertaken using this methodology.

Integral to the process of ethnographic research is the identification of the 'site'; the space, or range of spaces, in which the investigation will take place (Falzon, 2009, p.1). In the study of the network of MAKLab, the Stalled Spaces project, and in particular the WikiHouse projects, in part organised through web-based systems, engaging the contributions of individuals situated anywhere that they can gain an internet connection, the 'site' plays a significant role in identifying the distinctiveness of this culture. Multi-sited ethnography (Falzon, 2009; Marcus, 1995) engages with the methods of studying a “spatially disperse field through which the ethnographer moves” (Falzon, 2009, p.2). In this instance, there is a duality of field under study; the internet based communication platform of these projects (web-platforms, open data sets and email communication), virtual spaces, and the attendant physical spaces of the MAKLab studio in Glasgow, as well as the physical environments of those who contribute to the network, potentially anywhere in the world, but mediated through a computer interface. Much of this study is sited at the exchange between the physical (or digital) processes of generating architectural ideas, and their subsequent transmission between a design community and discussion. This ecosystem must be considered as linear and contingent, and while differing technology (and the relative abilities of different individuals with this technology) mediate this communication, it is all part of one chain of co-ordination; one design process with its related physical and virtual spaces, all interlinked.

This research is built on a number of key precedents. Each involve the observation of creative processes; some architectural, some software. The architectural studies (Cuff, 1991; Yaneva, 2009a; Yaneva, 2009b) site this dissertation specifically within the field of research on the architectural design processes. Observational research within the domain of software development (Rosenberg, 2007) provides useful precedent on ethnographic observation and interviews when set in a digital communication environment. An open source architecture does, after all, draw from these creative processes, and the comparison of the co-ordination of open source software development to open source architectural development helps to establish the linearity between the two practices.

Dana Cuff's Architecture: The Story of Practice (1991) is an ethnographic depiction of the modern office based architectural practice. She describes her research methods (1991, p. 247–248; 1991, pp.4–7) as built around interviews, historical analyses, literature reviews and case studies. It is a mixed methodology. The book is built around description of her observations of the everyday interactions of architects and individuals from other fields who they come into contact with in the production of architecture. Embedded within three architectural firms in California over a six month period, Cuff built a profile of architecture design as the result of collaboration between individuals, through casual conversation, engagement in social events, observation of decision making processes and interviews with staff.

Alberta Yaneva's The Making of a Building (2009b, p.23) describes her study methodology in the research of the architectural design practices of the firm Office for Metropolitan Architecture; participant observation of architects working through the design process, herself embedded within the office environment as the design for the aborted Whitney Museum of American Art in New York unfolded. This research is removed from the suggestion that the architectural design process is built around the inspiration of brilliant individuals, and instead, around an iterative journey of minor adjustment of representative materials and dialogue between individuals and their tools and working materials. Yaneva's contribution includes building upon the idea that non-human actors play a large role in the unfolding of the design process, providing their own challenges and opportunities, but necessarily inseparable from the process<ref name="ftn16">Yaneva identifies the use of blue foam models as a primary actor in the unfolding of the design process. Drawing from ideas of Actor Network Theory, Yaneva describe these models, as well as other representative materials (drawings, visualisations etc.) as 'mediators', which “can transform, translate, distort, and modify meaning” (2009b, p.118). Latour describes the nature of Actor Network Theory in the essay Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory (2005).</ref>. This is appealing in the study of an open source architectural process, which is largely mediated through distance communication methods (internet, websites, email etc.) which differs greatly from the nuances of person-to-person contact within an office environment. Yaneva draws heavily on the works of Latour and Woolgar and the methodologies of Science and Technology Studies. In Pandora's Hope, Latour (1999, p.24) sets out his own methodology for science and technology studies that describes:

"The only way to understand the reality of science studies is to follow what science studies does best, that is, paying close attention to the details of scientific practice"

- (1999, p.24).

To understand the nature of a field, he argues, one must study its practitioners and their environments. This is the nature of ethnography within the realm of creative or design cultures. The sentiment is echoed by Cuff, who argues that:

“(T)he production of places is a social process. That is, a very basic task of architectural work is to collect all participants, both in the office and out, to develop a manner of working with them and to interact with them in order to create a design solution.”

  • (1991, p.248)

Kitchen and Dodge (2011, p.256) present a “manifesto for software studies” that argues for ethnographic processes in studying the development of software. They suggest that alongside the observation of individuals at work, the interpretative reading of the communicative materials produced (emails, policy reports, manuals, workspaces etc.) can help to compliment the research process. They cite Rosenberg's (2007) ethnographic study of a software startup company, Chandler, tracing the challenges in the creation of code. Rosenberg's description goes into a great deal of the intricate description of the creation of specific code in the creation of a Personal Information Manager programme, however the book explores the self-identification tendency of those within the software development community, as a means to explore the why individuals seek to collaborate with those they regard as peers, what Rosenberg describes as the “programming tribe” (2007, p.134).

MUST INTRODUCE (Coleman, 2012)! Ethnography of Debian!

Hammersley and Atkinson's ethnography primer : Foreshadowing problems, research design etc. (Hammersley & Atkinson, 2007)

(Muncey, 2010) and (Chang, 2008) and (Holman Jones et al., 2013) on autoethnographic methods etc.

Till's (Till, 2005) exploration of architectural research. And potentially that of Robinson (Robinson, 1990). Till's views are relevant here as the idea of open source architecture as a valid concept is under discussion. It is not architect's borrowing wholesale from the methodologies of another field (or is it?), rather, validity is given to the movement from architect's studying outside the realms of their own established field (Till on architectural research as valid as its own field!) as a means to generate a new interdisciplinary ways of thinking – ones that are distinctly architectural (as in, achieving what it is architect's do, specifically).

Inductive process of qualitative research,

Groat and Wang's Quality Standards within a Naturalistic System of Inquiry (Groat & Wang, 2002, p.37).

Moore's (2006) description of the field of Environmental, Behavioural and Society research, at the intersection of the social sciences (anthropology, sociology, psychology) and research around urbanism, architecture and design.

Till (2005) argues that research within the discipline of architecture has validity as distinct in its epistemology from research in other fields, but equally, is subject to the same potential for interdisciplinary discussion as other subjects in academia. One of architecture's great myths, he argues, is that what architect's do is so distinct from other types of cultural production, that it can not bHis observations are relevant to this dissertation as this research draws heavily from studies within the distinct field of computer software production. However, the goal of this dissertation is not to describe the wholesale migration of another field's working practices and organisation into the domain of architectural design. Rather, what is being explored here is the validity of an open source architectural design practice as a novel and distinct field of study. This study is sited within the realm of architectural research, which Till (2005, p.5) describes as occupying three 'stages'; architectural process, architectural products, and architectural performance. This dissertation is focussed on the former of these categories. e described with the same research methodologies and definitions as used within other creative fields (2005, p.1). Alternatively, a separate flawed narrative has developed within the architectural community that architecture must draw its validity from other fields; the arts or sciences (2005, p.2).

Firstly, my research interest is primarily in understanding the 'culture' of an open source architectural practice. Foremost is establishing that such a culture exists; that it is sufficiently distinct from existing architectural (or other design practice) to be described as a culture unto itself. To establish this, I hope to use ethnographic processes to gather the “thick description” of open architecture. This means trying to gather information on the who, how, why, where, and what of the subject. Technical information is of course important, but does not necessarily tell me a great deal. It's more about self-identification, and novel or unique working practices may be part of that process. Do open architects think of themselves differently from traditional architectural practice/professionals? If so, is that because of how they work (technical; de-centralised, through the internet, creative commons etc.), or why they work (social; social responsibility, humanitarian work etc.). Do different groups of open architects (different platforms, different solutions) regard themselves as occupying a similar space; do they identify with one another? If so, do they regard themselves to be distinct from the wider architectural profession? Are they even at odds with it? Or, do they regard themselves as part of the same continuum, all working towards the same goal; shaping the built-environment?

Academic texts:

(Appadurai, 1988; Barab et al., 2004; Buur & Matthews, 2008; Clifford & Marcus, 1986; Falzon, 2009; Garcia et al., 2009; Grimshaw & Ravetz, 2005; Hine, 2000; Jacko, 2009; Kozinets, 2009; Marcus, 1995; Reason, 2004; Miller & Slater, 2001; Yaneva, 2009a; Yaneva, 2009b)

And more field guide type texts:

(AIGA, 2007; SITRA, 2011)

Sack et al. (Sack et al., 2006) on computer aided methodology.

(Musiani, 2012) on the importance of the underlying technical structure of the platform being studied as determinate of the social construction of the community.

Data Analysis[edit]

Overview of data analysis techniques and methods and a description of the wider ways in which different types of information, from observation, interview, practice etc, are brought together to form a consistent and whole narrative.

Could introduce (Coyne, 2006) on the concept of 'triangulation' of different forms of data.

Methods of Presentation[edit]

The media etc. selected to expose the research, primarily in the form of the dissertation – so a break down of that again.

Also the blog, and wiki as 'open' forum's for development.

Perhaps also as action research, ie. Engaging with MAKLab to improve their own understanding and engagement with open ideas.

Ethical Considerations[edit]

Hammer and Atkinson (2007) frame the ethical challenges of ethnographic methods around the relationship between researcher and subject, under five headings; informed consent, privacy, harm, exploitation and consequences for future research.

Informed consent is the understanding of the subject of the nature of the research taking place. The vast majority of social research undertaken in this way is with the full knowledge and consent of those being studied. This research is undertaken in this manner. A number of preliminary discussions between the researcher and subjects were undertaken as part of the process of gaining access to the groups under examination and the aims and methods of the research were disclosed.

MORE! I will go through each of Hammer and Atkinson's headings an explore them in relation to my research

Chapter Conclusion[edit]

Section Two – Findings

Section Three – Discussion


OSM Stuff[edit] – Key player in OSM 3d stuff – Interview with above ^ – Guardian article on OSM, public awareness growing.

OSM3D Presentations - -

OSM 4D -

F4 3D realtime map -

F4 wiki -

F4 Discussion page - - Mapbox, using open data to create a profitable business. How does it pay back into the commons for monetising commons data? - Leflet, an open source equivalent. – Gamification of OSM data collection and verification


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