December 31, 2012 AT 5:21 am

GitHub Has Big Dreams for Open-Source Software, and More

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GitHub Has Big Dreams for Open-Source Software, and More @ NYTimes.com.

Mr. Preston-Werner thinks the way open source requires a high degree of trust and collaboration among relative equals (plus a few high-level managers who define the scope of a job and make final decisions) can be extended more broadly, even into government.

“For now this is about code, but we can make the burden of decision-making into an opportunity,” he said. “It would be useful if you could capture the process of decision-making, and see who suggested the decisions that created a law or a bill.”

Can this really be extended across a large, complex organization, however?

As complex as an open-source project may be, it is also based on a single, well-defined outcome, and an engineering task that is generally free of concepts like fairness and justice, about which people can debate endlessly. Even on a less lofty plane, companies like GitHub and Asana will ultimately test themselves against complex corporate processes lasting years, and involving skills in both science and the humanities. Google once prided itself on few managers and fast action, but has found that getting big can also involve lots more meetings.

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