On 'Working in Public' by Nadia Eghbal

Hey folks,

I’ve just read " Working in Public: The Making and Maintenance of Open Source Software" by Nadia Eghbal and found it a fascinating read.

Towards the end of the book she suggests a sort of content producer model for open source software funding. This sounds like it would be akin to the way Twitch or Patreon work. One of the points she makes is that platforms would need to support the kind of reputation and community building features that make content based platforms work. I was wondering if anyone else has read this work and had thoughts about how Radicle might support this kind of funding model?

I don’t really have a question, I just found this to be an excellent and relevant book and was hoping to hear other peoples thoughts on it :slightly_smiling_face:

Alex

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Well, I for one am gonna stick it on my reading list :grin:

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I’m reading it right now as well! I’m loving it. In my opinion, the reframing of maintainers as content creators will help us move past the negative stigmas around free and open source development — specifically, that open source software can’t be monetized or just the fact that introducing money to the FOSS conversation always has this certain awkwardness about it. I think everyone tries to work around it by framing the conversation as “sustainability”, but to actually build for sustainability we need to stop putting FOSS in a box and try new things. Of course I get why there’s strong opinions about monetizing FOSS (had a long conversation with Stallman about it once lol), but honestly, I think they inhibit us from moving past the stale sustainability narrative. As Nadia herself wrote in Roads and Bridges, FOSS is completely under supported and exploited right now because of the lack of sustainable solutions for supporting commons-based peer production in general.

Platforms like Twitch and Patreon have really changed the game for creators — not just by allowing for easy digital monetization, but by supporting and empowering creators with those community-building features. As a result, creators now maintain resilient revenue streams separate from traditional corporate employment. I think that’s really powerful. I see no reason why the same approach can’t be applied to the open source space. In the Web3 space we’re also seeing tons of experimentation with community-based governance and ownership models. These models are powering protocols (while sustaining it’s maintainers!) and shifting the rules of value in a way that I believe is really conducive to the nature of FOSS.

So yeah, we are definitely planning on building for creators. I think Radicle is a really unique playground for this as well. I mean, maintainers and developers will be finally able to operate independently of platform vendors.

We’ve got a ton of ideas for different features that empower maintainers to control the production and distribution of their work. They range from subscription models, badges, community pooling of funds around issues or feature work, roadmaps with community voting etc… After get our beta out we’re going to start rolling out these features and testing them with users to figure out what vibes and what doesn’t.

@lftherios definitely has more thoughts here — as I’m sure the rest of the team (@NunoAlexandre @igor @geigerzaehler are all implementing these features) does.

What else stood out to you in the book? Any other ideas/themes that resonated?

Really glad to hear that you are reading this too, and that building for creators is in your vision. very much looking forward to these experiments :slightly_smiling_face:.

I think I have two major thoughts.

I watch a lot of Twitch and I support a bunch of people on Patreon. You’re right, these platforms have been enormously powerful for creators, but the obvious downside is that the platforms themselves become a risk for creators. If Twitch goes belly up, or if Patreon refuse to host your project for some reason, you’re left without any real alternatives. I hear a lot of streamers talking about this directly or indirectly. My impression is that content creators in general are more aware of and sensitive to platform power than purely commercial actors (like Amazon sellers), this feels like an opportunity for something like Radicle.

I think the content creator model works for individual contributions to small, fairly obviously valuable projects. I am curious as to how far it extends. Could you fund Linux in this manner? Can you fund endeavors that require hundreds of people working for years. The most obvious analogue of this for me is movie production, but you do actually sell something there. Eghbal is quite careful in making clear that she doesn’t think there is a general funding model that will work for all projects so this is not a criticism of the concept. I am just curious.

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yep. I just bought one.looks like a really nice book. :wink:

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we should have a reading group chat…lol

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@alexgood - late response, but I totally agree. I think we’re going to have to start experimenting with different creator models that span beyond individual contributions. Like, how can we empower the creators (maintainers) to activate and collectively create with their communities? I think this is the post- open source model.

And @anson - for serious, I am so down! Would love to hear how you’re liking it.

I would be down for a reading group chat :slightly_smiling_face:

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