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[Gcl-devel] Using the GCL project as a means to study micro- and meso-so

From: Donald Winiecki
Subject: [Gcl-devel] Using the GCL project as a means to study micro- and meso-social issues in FLOSS
Date: Thu, 30 Apr 2009 11:22:11 -0600


As some of you know, I am a sociologist who also has a practical interest in GCL.  I am nominally the maintainer of the Win32 build of GCL, though I'm also moving a lot of my day to day work to an Ubuntu system (on which I will eventually run Win32 under Sun's VirtualBox -- I can't seem to get rid of some of my Win32 software).

I have an interest in studying `FLOSS' at the microsocial and mesosocial levels using ethnographic methods (the sort of stuff that anthropologists classically do to understand groups, their ways, rules and values).  Micro and meso refer to diadic and moderately populated interpersonal systems that make up any social action of any size -- the grass roots, so to say, of social action, social movements and the like.

I have just received an RFP from the NSF which could provide funding for just this type of research (among other types of social science on social computing systems).  I have two ideas related to this.  First, I am interested in making the GCL project into an object of such analysis.  GCL seems particularly good for this on account that it is not incredibly dynamic and is a fairly defined group (too active and too big makes it very hard to use ethnographic methods).   Second, the NSF typically favors collaborative research proposals.  I have colleagues here at Boise State I can enroll in the project, but it would add credibility to have a few other members of GCL as co-PIs on the proposal, so I wonder if anyone currently involved in GCL would be so interested.

Before even beginning such a proposal, however, it would be necessary to gain consensus from project members that I could use the GCL project as a focus on the study. 

By way of describing In functional terms what the research would entail, it would involve (a) my own observations of action as both a member of the project and as a social scientist, (b) culling through the list archives and CVS tree for useful details and(c) occasional interviews with members to check on my own evolving findings and theorizing and to get additional perspectives on the GCL project and FLOSS in general (the latter to the extent that members are involved in other FLOSS projects).  The goal of the research would be to produce social scientific knowledge on how such systems operate both interactively and structurally, including the tacit and explicit production of rules, responsibilities, status divisions, values, etc.  Practices of protecting identities of individuals and the project would be employed.

At this point, I'm just looking to find out if members of the GCL project would permit or object to such a focus on the project.  Any say-so at this point is not final -- it would just give me more information to use in beginning to draft the proposal for funding.

If the consensus answer is no, I won't pursue the idea further.

Best regards,


Don Winiecki, Ed.D., Ph.D.
Boise State University, College of Engineering
Department of Instructional & Performance Technology
1910 University Drive, Boise, Idaho 83725-2070 USA
E-mail: address@hidden
WWW: http://ipt.boisestate.edu
Telephone: (+01) 208 426 1899
Fax: (+01) 208 426 1970

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