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A Technicity of Collaboration

Coordinating Distributed Software Development on GitHub

F. N. van der Vlist

From a software and platform studies approach, this thesis considers the technicity of collaboration on GitHub. It discusses how software has the capacity to produce and instantiate certain modes of collaboration that are specific to the environment in which that software is implemented. In order to do so, it draws from the fields of new media, software and platform studies as well as from computer and information science, and combines empirical descriptions with feature analyses in terms of their broader implications for collaboration on GitHub. The analysis includes discussion of Git as a system for distributed revision control and source code management, practices of collaboration on GitHub, and information transparency and activity awareness in relation to the implications for computer-supported collaborative innovation, knowledge sharing, and community building. Based on the analysis, I propose that collaboration should be understood as a relational construct between users and their technical supports, as articulated in a specific context. Systems of storage and versioning, access protocols, grammars of collaboration, social regulation, social learning, activity streams or visualisations, and other facets of technicity are all constitutive of the conditions for these context-specific modes of innovation, knowledge sharing, and community building to emerge.

technicity; collaboration; work practice; social coding; open source software development; sociotechnical system; GitHub

Kind Bachelor's Thesis
Author F. N. van der Vlist
Supervisor C. Gerlitz; E. J. T. Weltevrede
Publication Date 2013, May 22
Institution University of Amsterdam
Description Submitted to the Department of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam, Faculty of Humanities, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts (BA).