Future of Work

Introducing CHAOSS: The Future of Work

Working with my colleague, Matt Germonprez, at the University of Nebraska – Omaha, I am examining the future of work and how to make sense of that future.

How people live in the world is continually reshaped by technology  (Borgmann, 2009). Software work, whether scientific, pedagogical, or corporate, is at the forefront of the increasingly distributed, automated, and organizationally ambiguous nature of work (Crowston and Howison, 2005; McDonald et al., 2014). In this project, we explore the changing nature of work through (1) the determination of open source project health and sustainability and (2) the financial incentives in open source projects, determining how people and organizations make a living through such engagements. Both facets of our work examine patterns of diversity and participation, scope and scale, and areas of performance that are not readily derived solely from electronic trace data. Both facets of our work are advanced in two ways: construction of performance metrics and enumerating ways that individual and organizational prosperity emerges from open source project work (Figure 1).

Figure 1: High level project overview

Our research will answer specific questions that advance (1) open source project health and sustainability and (2) how people and organizations prosper from open source work by building understandings of each from several perspectives (Table 1).

Open Source Project Health and Sustainability Prosperity in the Changing Nature of Open Source Work
Local Understanding Project Health Futures Markets
Communal Understanding Community Genres Financial Incentives

Figure 1: Areas of Investigation: Project Health, Community Genres, Futures Markets, and Financial Incentives

First, we advance open source project health and sustainability by (1) making value-oriented information about open source project health visible, (2) systematically evaluating candidate metrics that measure productive and inclusive behaviors, and (3) clustering and classifying open source projects using open source project health and sustainability metrics in concert with descriptive properties, like community size, to enable more useful comparisons of projects that are part of similar genres.

As part of this work, we are working closely with an open source health and sustainability metrics project called CHAOSS sponsored by the Linux Foundation.  As part of this project and our research, we are developing a software tool for prototyping metrics, called “Augur”, which can be accessed on GitHub at http://www.github.com/OSSHealth/augur and has an informative but small website itself at http://augur.software

Please contact me if you’re interested in getting involved in any aspect of this work.