Giving the original Cathedral and Bazaar paper at Linux Kongress, May 1997

This directory gives you access to almost all of the contents of my evolving book, The Cathedral and the Bazaar. Enjoy — but be aware that I have sold O'Reilly the exclusive commercial printing rights.

The papers composing this book (like their topic) are still evolving as I get more feedback. I made extensive revisions and additions for the first edition of the book The Cathedral and the Bazaar, and expect to continue adding and revising in future editions. Even if you've heard me do the stand-up version, you may want to reread it.

These papers are not `finished', and may never be. Publishing a theory should not be the end of one's conversation with the universe, but the beginning. I welcome feedback, suggestions, and corrections and will incorporate them into future versions.

If you like these papers, you will probably also enjoy my How To Become A Hacker FAQ (also in the book).


Here's the XHTML. You can also download the original XML or Postscript.

A Brief History of Hackerdom

My thumbnail sketch of the history of the hacker culture, maintained since about 1992. I revised, expanded, and HTMLized it for the O'Reilly collection of my essays. The definitive history of the hacker culture remains to be written, probably not by me.

Here's the XHTML. You can also download the original XML or Postscript.


The Cathedral and the Bazaar

Here's the XHTML. You can also download the DocBook XML or PostScript.

You can download RealAudio recordings of the stand-up version of this talk from the Kongress (about the first 30 seconds is missing). The original Real Audio recordings don't play anymore, the codec they were made with is obsolete. But here are 48kbs and 96kbs MP3.


Commentary and Argument

Forrest J. Cavaliere III has attempted to elaborate some of CatB's central ideas in Some Implications of Bazaar Size. Randy Boring has replied.

Clay Shirky has expanded on the value of rapid evolution and the design of systems that encourage it in an excellent paper, In Praise of Evolvable Systems; also in View Source: Lessons from the Web's Massively Parallel Development

The first critique of this paper to appear, When a Bazaar is Not a Bazaar, was thought-provoking but (IMO) basically wrongheaded. There is better commentary available, and a very thoughtful critique in Beyond the Cathedral, Beyond The Bazaar. The Linux Storm attempts to situate this paper within a larger analysis.

If you think reading a ludicrously bad critique might be entertaining, see Nikolai Bezroukov's paper in First Monday. There is a link to it in my response.

Ko Kuwabara's Linux: A Bazaar at the Edge of Chaos comments perceptively on both CatB and HtN, and further develops some analysis from a point of view rooted in evolutionary biology and chaos theory. Kuwabara's grasp of economics is weak; he falls for the `path-dependence' myth, and seems to suffer from some neo-Marxist misconceptions about what capitalism is. Fortunately these errors do not affect a really excellent and illuminating discussion of how Linux bears on the collective-action theories of Mancur Olson et. al.

Michael Truscello's The Architecture of Information: Open Source Software and Tactical Poststructuralist Anarchism is (wait for it) a postomodernist deconstruction of the politics of CatB. Astonishingly, the jargon and the left-wing ax-grinding do not completely manage to smother every last germ of sense in it, though they come very close.

There is even an insanely funny parody of CatB, The Circus Midget and the Fossilized Dinosaur Turd. My sides hurt after reading it.

Homesteading the Noosphere

In this paper, I examine in detail the property and ownership customs of the open-source culture. Yes, it does have property customs — and rather elaborate ones too, which reveal an underlying gift culture in which hackers compete amicably for peer repute. This analysis has large implications for anyone interested in organizing large-scale intellectual collaborations.

Here's the XHTML. You can also download the DocBook XML or PostScript.


Commentary and Argument

Fare Rideau has developed some thoughtful criticism of this paper (and The Cathedral and the Bazaar) from an anti-IPR point of view. I incorporated some of his analysis into the 1.9 version of the paper.

Russ Allbery has also commented perceptively on the material.

I have written an essay of fame, ego, and oversimplification to counter some misinterpretations of HtN.

Lars Risan has written an excellent paper called The Identity Games of Hacker Culture. He builds on some ideas in HtN to propose an account of the social instincts behind cooperative hacking that relates them to sexual selection and what he calls ``complementary identity games''. This is an impressive piece of thinking and analysis, the first to my knowledge that begins from my approach via evolutionary biology but goes genuinely beyond HtN to propose explanations that were not implicit in my model.

Pat Gratton has tried to fit the hacker psychology as described in HtN into the conceptual scheme of Jane Jacobs's Systems of Survival; see his page on Idealist Ethical Syndrome.

The Magic Cauldron

This paper analyzes the economics of open-source software. It includes some explosion of common myths about software production economics, a game-theoretical account of why open-source cooperation is stable, and a taxonomy of open-source business models.

Here's the XHTML. You can also download the DocBook XML or Postscript.

CatB Book Cover

If you like these papers, you will probably also enjoy my How To Become A Hacker FAQ (also in the book).


Jesper Laisen is working on a Danish translation of this paper.

Sebastien Blondeel <> is working on a French translation of this paper.

There is a Spanish translation.

There is a Japanese translation by YAMAGATA Hiroo, the same person who did the excellent Japanese translation of CatB.

There is a German translation by Reinhard Gantar.

There is an Italian translation.

There is a Russian translation.

Jesper Laisen is working on a Danish translation.

Commentary and Argument

Fare Rideau has developed some criticized this paper.

Related Papers:

Yochai Benkler's Coase's Penguin, or Linux and the Nature of the Firm is very perceptive. Benkler's paper informs me that my defense-cost analysis of the development of property rights was anticipated by the economist Harold Demsetz in the 1960s. This doesn't surprise me.

In Open Source as a Signalling Device - An Economic Analysis two economists mathematically model the process by which successful participation in an open-source project turns into a higher salary for programmers. I predicted this effect in tMC.

The Revenge of the Hackers

In this essay, I continue the historical narrative into current events.

Here's the XHTML. You can also download the DocBook XML or PostScript.


This is the Author's Afterword from the book.

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