FOSS Politics Writing Activity

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FOSS Politics Writing Activity



Description This activity helps student investigate politics within the open-source community.
Source Ed Mirelli
Prerequisite Knowledge Basic knowledge of definition of Open Source
Estimated Time to Completion 2 weeks
Learning Objectives Close reading of articles. Identifying concepts and relationships. Writing communication.
Materials/Environment Current events articles or papers
Rights [<a rel="license" href=""><img alt="Creative Commons License" style="border-width:0" src="" /></a>
This work by Edward Mirielli is licensed under a <a rel="license" href="">Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License</a>.]
Turn In Written abstract or essay


Every community has politics. Understanding those politics is important work effectively within a community. This activity helps student investigate politics within the open-source community.


Read articles that discuss the organizational and institutional view of FOSS, focusing on how communications in FOSS projects are organized and structured, and how FOSS projects have inherent politics. The outcomes of this activty is the production of a summary (extended abstract) address the research methods used to study these situations - this could be modified to address more pertinent aspects about the FOSS community.

Articles that have been used in the past, include:

  • Ebert, Christof , "Open Source Drives Innovation Software", IEEE 2007 (Volume:24, Issue: 3)
  • Morelli,Ralph. "A global collaboration to deploy help to China" Communications of the ACM CACM,Volume 53 Issue 12, December 2010
  • Zilouchian Moghaddam, Roshanak and Twidale, Michael and Bongen, Kora. Zilouchian Moghaddam, Roshanak and Twidale, Michael and Bongen, Kora. "Open Source Interface Politics: Identity, Acceptance, Trust, and Lobbying". 2011 CHI '11 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing

Specific Tasks

Notes on Use

  • This is a general activity that could be appropriate for a variety of classes.
    • Openness courses
    • Any course where you want students to understand how FOSS communities communicate/work-flow
    • Research methods course (information literacy)
    • Less programming course, like CS0
    • Writing component in a technical course
    • Ethics course
  • Typical rubrics relating to writing, completeness of argument, and process of understanding structure.
    • May focus on identifying research methods correctly (e.g., other steps they took to dig into the material)
  • Depending on your class, there may be some concerns:
    • How do you fit it into your curriculum that already has a lot of requirements?
    • How long does it take to grade them (peer review?)
    • Build up to larger assignment with smaller assignments.
    • Matching level of articles to level of students.
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