Worth a Look: Cathedral vs. Bazaar (structure-design & public outcomes)

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The world is assembled along the lines of certain logics.  Human organisations are also outcomes of such logics.

Some organisations are assembled following the logic of the “cathedral”.  Other organisations are assembled following the logic of the “bazaar”.

Cathedrals are organised as military-inspired command hierarchies.  Superior humans give orders, which must be executed by subordinate humans.  Bazaars are self-organising, based on voluntary co-operation among humans.  Like molecules in a chemical reaction, humans join wherever their efforts are needed.

Cathedrals separate consumption from production.  Consumers are not to understand or modify the products they consume.  Bazaars allow humans to be both consumers and producers.  Consumers are encouraged to create new products out of the products they consume.

Cathedrals cannot emerge unless the free spread of knowledge is prohibited.  The underlying knowledge of products or production must be locked, and not released in public.  Bazaars cannot emerge unless the locking in of knowledge is prohibited.  The underlying knowledge of products or production must be kept public.

These two logics have always existed, yet humans have debated them only since the late 1990s.  Computers, specifically software programming, has served as a laboratory for this discussion.

“Cathedrals” and “bazaars” have led humans to interpret their social history in new way.  During the past couple of centuries, cathedrals have expanded, at the expense of bazaars.

However, programmers have proven that the bazaars can be more effective and creative than cathedrals.  Other humans are now exploring how to use this same logic generically, in non-computer contexts.

In the face of such experiments, humans can hope for a 21st century civilisation assembled in novel ways, less dominated by the hierarchies of the past.

See Also:

Graphic: Epoch B Multinational Network Rising

The Cathedral and the Bazaar (Wikipedia)

The Cathedral and the Bazaar (Eric Steven Raymond) PDF 35 Pages

The Cathedral versus the Bazaar (With apologies to Eric S. Raymond) An Economic and Strategic Look at Open-Source Software by Prof. Barry Blecherman Posted March 11, 1999

Tom Atlee Proposes distributed-intelligence, crowd-sourcing participatory think tank for popular common-sense policies, unhindered by party affiliations and ideology