The Nature of Hybrid Community: An Exploratory Study of Open Source Software User Groups
Much prior emphasis in the study of open source software has been placed on the virtual nature of development activities. We argue that many open source projects are better characterized as hybrid communities, which are comprised of both virtual and physically bounded activities. Our field study adopts a dual ontology to investigate the relationships between virtual and physical representations of the Linux user community. Our findings suggest that the virtual and physical representations of a hybrid community complement each other in a number of ways. Specifically, we uncover six ways through which a physical representation may complement the virtual one, and four ways through which a virtual representation may complement the physical one. We conclude that leaders of open source projects should strive to organize complementary activities across virtual and physical representations of the community.
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