Chapter 17. Extending Open Source Principles Beyond Software Development

Pamela Jones

It starts with an idea.

Linus, for example, realized that if he put his kernel project online, people all around the world could work on it together, without having to be in the same building. They could quite literally write software in public that way, scattered around the world though they were.

Understanding such simple things changes the world sometimes.

But what about other areas? Is it possible to extend that same process to other kinds of work, or is it suitable only for software development? One thing can now be said for sure: legal research can be done that way. Groklaw is the proof of concept. But as I will explain, you need to tweak things just a bit.

I’ve done legal research for a living as a paralegal, and now I’ve done it with the world as a Groklaw volunteer, and I am therefore in a position to make comparisons. I think any company involved in any legal dispute that touches on technology could profit from using the open source method to tap into the community’s group knowledge pool.

I’m a good researcher, and I do excellent work, but I know without a doubt that the input from thousands of readers made a huge difference in what Groklaw was able to accomplish in digging up helpful information in the SCO litigation.

How Did It Happen and How Does It Work?

When I began, it was just l’il ol’ me. I had read Slashdot enough to know that while there was a high level of technical knowledge in ...

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