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[ox-en] FASD study and Selbstentfaltung / absence of alienation


Recently I sent information about an interesting study about Free
Software developers and their motivations. I'm quoting the following

wher a German version is also available. Some comments below.

  *Project FASD
  Fun and Software Development*

  The existence of best quality open source software represents an
  economic paradox at first sight. Why do persons and enterprises engage
  in the production of freely available software? Why is there no free
  riding problem in the production of this public good?

  With the project FASD we try to investigate the motivations of
  programmers who engage freely in the development of open source
  software. The focus of this study lies on fun, on the examination of its
  importance for such an engagement.

      Research questions

  With our research we aim to verify the following questions:

      * Do developer of Open Source software experience more fun then
	developer in commercial firms?
      * What is the value of fun, what's its significance for the success
	of a software project?

  Our investigation on "fun" is based on Csikszentmihalyi's
  conceptualization and research on "flow". According to this research,
  fun taken as flow consists of the following components (see

     1. Clarity of goals and an immediate feedback as provided by many
	sports or arts activities: a tennis player knows exactly what is
	required in order to win a game. The rules are clear. Success or
	failure of any move are immediately perceived. Sports and arts are
	therefore archetypical flow-activities.
     2. Balance between ability and challenge: the difficulty of a task
	has to provide the right degree of challenge to a person?s
	ability. A too difficult piece of music will leave a musician
	frustrated and disappointed, a too easy one leads to boredom and
     3. A high degree of concentration on a limited field of stimuli: this
	allows a person?s consciousness to delve deeply into the activity.
	In contrast to this there are often chaotic and contradictory
	demands in daily life which may cause confusion and dissatisfaction.
     4. A sensation of hightened control.
     5. An effortlessness of action.
     6. An altered perception of time.
     7. The melting together of doing and consciousness.

  Given that software development is attractive because this is an
  autotelic activity and one can experience flow, this doesn't explain why
  a programmer contributes to open source software. For a rational actor
  it makes more sense to carry on this activity in the course of paid
  work. It is only possible to explain such behavior if the open source
  development model has qualities that make flow experience rather likely.
  In fact, the open source development model differs from commercial
  software development in many respects:

     1. In a commercial software project the project manager usually is
	not the person who developed and maintains the application's vision.
     2. The project owner of an open source project has no formal authority.
     3. Usually the contributors to an open source software can not be
	attracted to an engagement by monetary incentives.
     4. An open source project normally has no dead lines.

      Research methods

  To verify our research hypotheses <#hypotheses> we have to demonstrate
  the following:

     1. The receptivity to flow experiences is indifferent to the area the
	programmer is engaged in. I.e. it does not play a role whether the
	software developer contributes to a commercial or an open source
     2. Software developers in the open source area experience flow at
	significantly higher frequency than programmers engaged in the
	commercial area.
     3. The open source development model can be characterized by the
	points described above <#model> whereas these points are missing
	in commercial projects.
     4. There is a clear connection between the open source development
	model and the probability to experience flow <#flow>. I.e. the
	open source development model is a milieu which supports the
	factors constituting flow experiences.

  An online survey is planned to find out how receptive software
  developers are to flow experiences and how frequent they experience such
  feelings. It is planned to carry out this survey both for programmers in
  the open source and in the commercial area.

I briefly heard about this concept of flow before. I find it very
relevant for our discussion because to me it seems like a facet of (at
least part of) the concept of Selbstentfaltung. At least to me it
sounds very much like "no alienation". IMHO it would be interesting to
think about this further.

Does anyone on these lists can tell us something about this flow
concept? I'd appreciate to learn a bit more about it.

						Mit Freien Grüßen


Organization: projekt

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