The periphery on stage: The intra-organizational dynamics in online communities of creation
This paper theorizes the intra-organizational dynamics of online communities of creation such as Free and Open Source software projects. It describes the role of the participants at the peripheries of these online communities and analyze how the division of labor among peripheral and core members is handled. The paper further demonstrates that this mode of labor division is possible only if the periphery is able to acquire and absorb the standards associated with the developers’ activities, described here as a social practice. We describe how the propagation of such standards takes place through non-material artifacts such as code and virtual discussions. We show that because of the capacity of these artifacts to effectively disseminate the standards of a social practice, such standards can be transferred not only face to face, but also asynchronously, asymmetrically and openly.
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