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The political implications of having fun (while programming open source)


[EuroPython 2011] Benno Luthiger - 23 June 2011 in "Track Spaghetti"


What are the implications for the society if people enjoy their work, because this work is perceived as rewarding by itself? It is this question that occupies me since I have finished my Ph.D. research about the motivation of open source programmers. In my research, I have been able to show that fun is an important driver for open source programmers. Moreover, fun plays an important role not only for hobbyists, but for developers who are paid for their work too (open or closed source).

These findings contrast with the traditional efforts of leftist parties and labor unions. For those political organizations, labor is perceived as compulsion and exploitation and, therefore, people have to be liberated from labor. The resulting political praxis is to send people into retirement as soon as possible and, on the other hand, to make the life for unemployed people carefree.

Is the software developersā€˜ world a little Shangri-La, apart from the real world, delineated by the leftist parties, or is the open source model generalizable? What happens with the values generated through the labor if the work as such is rewarding? The open source mode of production is part of our modern reality and in my presentation I would like to consider this big reality from the perspective of open source.


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