Over the last 20 years, open source software has undergone a significant shift—from providing an optimistic model for public collaboration to undergoing constant maintenance by the often unseen solo operators who write and publish the code that millions of users rely on every day. In Working in Public, Nadia Eghbal takes an inside look at modern open source software development, its evolution over the last two decades, and its ramifications for an internet reorienting itself around individual creators. By delineating the structure of open source projects, she explores, for the first time, the maintenance costs of production that software incurs for its developers. Drawing on hundreds of developer interviews and analyses of platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, and YouTube, Eghbal argues that examining who produces things on the internet, and not just what they produce, helps us understand the value of online content today.
Nadia Eghbal is a writer and researcher who explores how the internet enables individual creators. From 2015 to 2019, she worked independently and at GitHub to improve the open source developer experience. She is the author of “Roads and Bridges: The Unseen Labor Behind Our Digital Infrastructure,” published by the Ford Foundation.
Nadia writes from a unique perspective at the intersection of open source, economics, and poetry. This is the definitive book on the dynamics of online creative communities.
CEO of GitHub
Nadia is one of today’s most nuanced thinkers about the depth and potential of online communities. This book could not have come at a better time, as the ways we relate to each other have become more sharply mediated by the internet.
former director of product for communities at GitHub
In the age of information abundance, we’re all maintainers now. Working in Public is an anthropological dive into the stories of real developers, providing us a way to ask new questions through the lens of open source. Nadia presents us with a book that isn’t focused on just money, licenses, or code, but which is for all of us who make, as creators of all kinds.
maintainer of Babel
Working in Public [is] a fascinating book . . . . We need to rethink the very idea of what crowdsourcing is capable of—and understand that it is perhaps more limited than promised. The open source revolution has been carried on the backs of some very weary people.
Eghbal clearly sees and articulates something important about the way we make things, and how that’s changing. . . .Working in Public opens by challenging a common perception about open source today: the idea that it’s collaborative.