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Content archived on 2024-05-27

Free/Libre and Open Source Software: survey and study


Technological and socio-economic changes known as the 'New Information Society/Economy' are re-introducing the notion of production, consumption and trade of goods and services without the direct or obvious involvement of money. Such 'non-monetary/trans-monetary' economic activity is difficult to measure through usual monetary indicators. This project aims to remedy this situation by identifying and developing indicators of such activity through a case study of OS/FS: Open Source/Free Software. A survey of users and developers will provide the first comprehensive base of hard data on OS/FS; indicators of measurement including monetary are applied on this domain through this survey; and a unique survey of OS/F software source code will measure authors' contributions and other indicators. OS/FS business models and best practices and policy/regulatory impact assessed. While focussing on OS/FS, FLOSS will have implications for measuring and modelling the New Economy as a whole.

In many parts of the 'New Economy' production, consumption and trade in goods and services does not involve direct or obvious transactions of money. FLOSS's overall objectives are to provide an improved understanding of such 'non-monetary/trans-monetary' economic activity in general, and the domain of Open Source/Free Software (OS/FS) in particular. These objectives are sought to be achieved through the first comprehensive attempts to gather data on OS/FS. Furthermore, this data is analysed extracting business models/best practices and validating identified indicators and measures. Policy and regulatory implications are assessed and recommendations made. For maximum utility of this research, targeted dissemination and feedback/interaction is a key goal.

Work description:
The workplan is organised in two main analytical streams co-dependent on the third stream, which takes the form of a multi-part survey. The first stream (work package 1) involves the creation of a preliminary working model for the OS/FS community, in particular the identification of indicators that could usefully provide measures of OS/FS economic activity, as well as the determination of the basis for broader indicators beyond the OS/FS community. The survey implementation plan is developed here. Based on these inputs, the survey stream (work package 2 and 3) will gather the primary data through questionnaires and interviews with user and developer organisations and companies throughout Europe, as well as the analysis of a representative sample of software source code (through tools developed by FLOSS to scan code for authors' details). Survey outputs feed back into the first stream, to validate the effectiveness of the indicators chosen. The second analytical stream (work packages 4 to 7) will involve the analysis of the survey from user and developer perspectives, identification of best practices, and assessment of policy and regulatory implications and impact, taking as inputs the specific data resulting from the surveys. Finally, the dissemination package (work package 8) will distribute the outputs of the whole project to targeted groups as defined (policy-makers, statisticians, businesses and OS/FS developers), on a web site and reports throughout the project and in an interactive workshop at the end.

Milestone 1: First part of indicator study. Results: survey methodology and implementation plan. Milestone 2: Market survey. Results: first comprehensive hard data set on OS/FS. Milestone 3: Software source code survey. Result: comprehensive hard data set on OS/FS developer contributions and movements. Milestone 4: Dissemination workshop. Result: feedback and completion of final report.

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