Revisiting the Open Source Software classic 20 years ago, Eric Steven Raymond typed The Cathedral and The Bazaar, a classic open-source story. It distinguishes between two distinct styles of development. Cathedral: Software carefully and quietly crafted by individuals within an isolated, mostly secret development team. Bazaar: Chaotic, babbling open source development, miraculously coherent amongst both the signal and the noise of the crowds.
20 years ago, Eric Steven Raymond typed The Cathedral and The Bazaar,a classic open-source story. It distinguishes between two distinct styles of development.
As Gitcoin grows at the intersection of OSS and blockchain, two communities which stand on the shoulders of pioneers like Mr. Raymond, we thought it was timely to republish the main lessons from his tale of building Fetchmail (a POP protocol improvement) via the Bazaar approach.
As Raymond built Fetchmail, he intentionally emulated Linus Torvalds open source development approach to building the Linux operating system. Along the way, he hoped to test the theories he had been developing about the ‘bazaar style’ as he observed the surprising success of Linux in the 1990s.
Fetchmail, too, turned out to be a success.In Raymond’s story explaining the development process of the product, he stops early and often to reflect on lessons he learned. These lesson have since been immortalized in Open Source Software — perhaps even outlasting Fetchmail itself. Without further ado, here goes:
For those interested, these lessons are illustrated vividly through Raymond’s original piece, available here (and open source — who would have guessed?).
The world of blockchain is increasingly intersected with the world of open-source. Most blockchain protocols and applications are open source. It is, thus, important for those in the space building the next generation of bazaar’s to keep in mind the lessons helpful to our open source predecessors.
Today, we believe Gitcoin helps incentivize open source workers like never before. If Linus Torvalds could build Linux and Eric Raymond could create Fetchmail in a world before blockchain based financial incentives (alongside the great characteristics OSS brought to the table), what may we be able to create next? This is the future we imagine and are building towards.
Lessons above are directly referenced from the Cathedral and the Bazaar — Copyright© Eric Raymond, 2000.
This post is Part II in a series of posts by the Gitcoin team entitled “Pushing Open Source Forward,” exploring the intersection of Open Source and Blockchain — which draw heavy inspiration from the bazaar approach.
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