In this speech, Raymond talks about his insights into a programming philosophy he dubs "the bazaar". His thoughts draw heavily from observations of the Linux operating system development process, which is coordinated by Linus Torvalds. Linux is free software, written entirely by volunteers, and may be modified and redistributed by anyone. While Linux has not had much of an impact on the desktop market, it runs about 20 to 40% of the servers on the Internet, and is increasingly being used to run cellular phones. The Android phone system developed by Google is based on Linux, for example.
Linux is a revolutionary system. As Raymond details in his talk, most software before this time used a "cathedral" style of development. A company would write code, release a new version maybe once a year, and try to ensure that all the bugs were fixed before each new version was released. The only people allowed to see the source code -- the actual program itself written in a language humans can understand -- were employees working on the project for the company. Users of the program received only the machine code -- just the ones and zeros and not anything they could make sense of. Users might provide some feedback in surveys, but the bugs they identified or features they wanted would not be incorporated until the next release, maybe a year later.
Linux changed everything about this process. Linus released code "early and often", meaning new versions didn't necessarily have all the bugs fixed, and came out as frequently as every day. What's more, users were treated as fellow code developers, so they could see the source code and fix bugs or create new features they wanted all by themselves. They didn't need to rely on Linus, but they would submit their changes back to him so they could be incorporated in the next release -- maybe the next day. As Raymond discusses, this meant that Linus could take advantage of a lot of people helping him out. Raymond coin's Linus' law: "given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow", meaning they become obvious to at least one person. To encourage this kind of contribution, the developer must have good people skills, interact regularly with his users, and provide rewards by incorporating good ideas.
How do principles of openness, freedom, transparency, and participation of the masses relate to Western Civilization? What lessons can you draw from these experiences as you discover new styles of learning in the digital age?