Nadia Eghbal

“Long used as a proxy for other online behavior, open-source software lets creators publish code that anyone can use. It offered a positive example of public collaboration in the late 1990s, but in the past 20 years, it has switched to solo operators who produce code that is used by millions of people.

Nadia Eghbal examines the inner workings of contemporary open-source software creation, its development over the past two decades, and its implications for a reorientation of the internet towards individual producers in Working in Public. Eghbal contends that contemporary open source provides us with a framework through which to grasp the difficulties experienced by online creators. Eghbal conducted hundreds of interviews with developers while attempting to improve their experience at GitHub. She examines the trajectory of open source projects, including — the platform GitHub for hosting and development; — the structures, roles, incentives, and relationships involved; — the often-overlooked maintenance required of its creators; — and the costs of production that endure through an application’s lifetime.

Eghbal also examines the function of websites like Twitter, Facebook, Twitch, YouTube, and Instagram, which significantly expand the range of interactions between producers and their audiences while significantly lowering infrastructure and distribution costs for them.

More and more, individual developers’ work is the focus of open source communities rather than the work of teams. In a similar vein, if creators—as opposed to separate communities—are to take center stage in our online social networks, we must better comprehend how they function. We can achieve this by looking at what happened to open source.”