Schweik Open Source Project

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  • Publication
    Tragedy of the FOSS commons? Investigating the institutional designs of free/libre and open source software projects
    (2007-02-01) Schweik, Charles M; English, Robert
    Free/Libre and Open Source Software projects (FOSS) are a form of Internet-based commons. Since 1968, when Garrett Hardin published his famous article “Tragedy of the Commons” in the journal Science, there has been significant interest in understanding how to manage commons appropriately, particularly in environmental fields. An important distinction between natural resource commons and FOSS commons is that the “tragedy” to be avoided in natural resources is over-harvesting and the potential destruction of the resource. In FOSS commons the “tragedy” to be avoided is project abandonment and a “dead” project. Institutions – defined as informal norms, more formalized rules, and governance structures – are mechanisms that have been shown to help overcome tragedies in some environmental commons situations. The goal of this paper is to more formally describe the concept of FOSS institutions and to conduct a preliminary examination of FOSS projects in order to shed light into institutions, their composition and importance to the projects. We report findings from an initial set of interviews of FOSS developers and find that in commons settings that need to encourage contribution rather than control over-appropriation, the institutional designs appear to be extremely lean and as unobtrusive as possible. To the FOSS programmers we interviewed, institutional structure adds transaction costs and hinders collective action. This is markedly different from traditional environmental commons settings.
  • Publication
    Identifying Success and Abandonment of Free/Libre and Open Source (FLOSS) Commons: A Preliminary Classification of projects
    (2007-12-01) Schweik, Charles M; English, Robert
    Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) projects are a form of commons where individuals work collectively to produce software that is a public, rather than a private, good. The famous phrase “Tragedy of the Commons” describes a situation where a natural resource commons, such as a pasture, or a water supply, gets depleted because of overuse. The tragedy in FLOSS commons is distinctly different -- it occurs when collective action is abandoned before a software product is produced or reaches its full potential. This paper builds on previous work about defining success in FLOSS projects by taking a collective action perspective. We first report the results of interviews with FLOSS developers regarding our ideas about success and failure in FLOSS projects. Building on those interviews and previous work, we then describe our criteria for defining success or abandonment in FLOSS commons. Finally, we discuss the results and validation of a classification of nearly all projects hosted on as of August 2006.
  • Publication
    Introduction to FOSS GIS using QGIS .8, PostgreSQL, PostGIS, and the Grass plugin for QGIS
    (2007-09-01) Schweik, Charles M; Stepanov, Alexander; Fernandez, Maria; Hamel, Mike; Lewis, Quentin
    "The primary goal of our teaching agenda is to expose students to OS software and participation in open source and open content projects. To accomplish this, we have taught undergraduate and graduate level geographic information systems (GIS) courses based on open source GIS software (both in the classroom at the University of Massachusetts and online)" One significant contribution in this effort has been to develop a set of (Creative Commons Licensed) teaching material on that can be accessed at the Open Source Geospatial Foundation wiki. We are now in the process of updating much of that material for QGIS version .11. Versions of this material have been used to teach the following courses: In the classroom... NRC297S - Introduction to Spatial Technologies, Department of Natural Resources Conservation * Spring 2005, * Spring 2006, * Spring 2007 and, * forthcoming in 2009 And online... * Students from several different countries, including Nigeria, Uganda, Brazil, and the United States participated in our online course. We used Moodle for the course delivery system. "A second element of our teaching effort is to learn from and study, in a 'real' situation, how to develop and participate in an open content collaboration." To that end, PI Schweik has been leading an international effort to develop open content educational material in open source GIS as part of the Open Geospatial Foundation's educational initiative (see We have worked to mobilize a globally distributed group of GIS educators to build this open content collaborative effort. As of October 2008, we have inventoried over 45 different sets of open source educational material (listed at We have also: * Investigated potential format standards for educational material (e.g., Apache Docbook, Open Office Writer, etc.) * Implemented a content management system (Subversion) to support the management of educational content "source" and new derivatives. This system resides at