One of the things I’ve always enjoyed most about heterodox cities like New York, San Francisco, Paris, London, Berlin, Jerusalem — several of which I’ve had the privilege of living in — is the mix of ethnic groups. They’re highly visible, irreducibly fixed in the social fabric, and at the same time somewhat opaque.
If you’re not a member of a particular ethnic community, there’s a lot of things that no amount of explaining will let you get your head around. And if you’re inside the community, you tire of those explanations — and might consider just wearing a tee-shirt like the one at the right.
Open source communities, of course, are no different than other communities in this respect. There are many nuances to the business and technology and collaboration models in open source completely lost on those not intimately involved in how things are done.
The folks at 451 Group have tackled this problem head on in their blog, CAOS theory (Commercial Adoption of Open Source). And finally, for people who got stuck at the tee-shirt, Matt Aslett has developed a pretty good taxonomy for the moving parts of open source. It’s nominally about the business models, but the elements go a long way to clarifying other important dimensions of open source from both a community and marketplace perspective.