We’re living in an unprecedented era of online collaboration, coordination, and creation. All kinds of people are coming together — whether in an open source project or company, an R&D initiative, a department in a company, a club or special interest group, even a group of friends and family — around some shared interest or activity. But the word “members” is faceless, and doesn’t help us really understand, support (and better design for) these communities.
So in this special book launch episode of the a16z Podcast, Nadia Eghbal — author of the new book Working in Public: The Making and Maintenance of Open Source Software published by Stripe Press — shares with a16z editor in chief Sonal Chokshi the latest research and insights from years of studying the health of open source communities (for Ford Foundation), working in developer experience (at GitHub), researching the economics and production of software (at Protocol Labs), and now focusing on writer experience at Substack.
Eghbal offers a new taxonomy of communities — including newer phenomena such as “stadiums” of open source developers, other creators, and really, influencers — who are performing their work in massive spaces where the work is public (and not necessarily participatory). So what lessons of open source communities do and don’t apply to the passion economy and creator communities? How does the evolution of online communities — really, social networks — shift the focus to reputation and status as a service? And what if working in public is also about sharing in private, given the “dark forest theory of the internet”, the growing desire for more “high-shared context” groups and spaces (including even podcasts and newsletters)? All this and more in this episode.