“Culture of Asynchronous Communication” was for many years a cornerstone of open source development. It’s notable how little analysis has gone into that. Most open source projects are coordinated with amazingly low bandwidth and extremely high latency. This is often one of the most difficult cultural conventions for people emigrating in from other software subcultures.
One neat, but certainly unintended, consequence of that was it created an audit trail that social scientists could pick apart.
We do not know if this is a necessary element to a high functioning open source project. Is there a sweet spot in the space of bandwidth and latency? What aspects of the task domain shift the location of that sweet spot?
I am confident there is a complement to Brook’s insight that “Assigning more programmers to a project running behind schedule, could actually make it even more late.”
Adding more bandwidth and lowering latency to collaborative work can make it less collaborative.
So blogging, with ultra high latency and very low bandwidth required (in the sense that 20 kB per week needed to track a blog is low bandwidth) should be, as some people is already finding, a highly cooperative medium.
Interesting insight, and one that will keep me thinking for some time. The audit trail, I’d say, is not unintended but essential IMO, as it is what gives it the “blackboard” feature of allowing any bypasser to pick up the chalk and write another line.
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