Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow—this is the conclusion of Eric S. Raymond's anatomy of open source, The Cathedral and the Bazaar, which begins with the words:
Linux is subversive. Who would have thought...that a world-class operating system could coalesce as if by magic out of part-time hacking by several thousand developers scattered all over the planet, connected only by the tenuous strands of the Internet?[*]
Eric explores the evolutionary advantage of self-correcting systems populated by selfish agents over the centralized, top-down approach of traditional software development. At face value, this is a technical essay, but beneath the surface, lies a manifesto.
Many people (especially those who politically distrust free markets) would expect a culture of self-directed egoists to be fragmented, territorial, wasteful, secretive, and hostile. But this expectation is clearly falsified by (to give just one example) the stunning variety, quality and depth of Linux documentation.[†]
Eric advances open source culture—"release early and often, delegate everything you can, be open to the point of promiscuity"—over the closed models of commerce, positioning Linus Torvald's developing success as evidence that cathedrals must give way to bazaars.
We hear this same rebel yell in the ancient markets of the cluetrain manifesto, the mobile thumb tribes of smart mobs, and the disruptive technologies of peer-to-peer. We embrace the hidden power of social networks ...