Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL)

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Common Knowledge?: An Ethnography of Wikipedia by Dariusz Jemielniak

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Andrew Keen, barriers to entry, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), citation needed, collaborative consumption, collaborative editing, conceptual framework, continuous integration, crowdsourcing, Debian, deskilling, digital Maoism, en.wikipedia.org, Filter Bubble, Google Glasses, Guido van Rossum, Hacker Ethic, hive mind, Internet Archive, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, job satisfaction, Julian Assange, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Menlo Park, moral hazard, online collectivism, pirate software, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Stallman, selection bias, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, social software, Stewart Brand, The Nature of the Firm, The Wisdom of Crowds, transaction costs, WikiLeaks, wikimedia commons, zero-sum game

One way to do this is turn the co-developers into a voting committee (as with Apache [Software Foundation]). Another is rotating dictatorship, in which control is occasionally passed from one member to another within a circle of senior co-developers; the Perl developers organize themselves this way. (1999/2004, pp. 101–102) Raymond possibly took the term from the “Benevolent Dictator for Life” nickname arguably given to Guido van Rossum, the creator of the Python programming language (Van Rossum, 2008). In Raymond’s concept, benevolent dictatorship is quite close to what Wales would refer to as a constitutional 1 6 2    L e a d e r s h i p T r a n s f o r m e d monarchy. Yet Wales was probably right to say that the term “benevolent dictatorship” may be obscure outside the hacker and open-source community and even evoke association with the likes of Ho Chi Minh, Josif Broz Tito, or Fidel Castro (interestingly, the Wikipedia entry on “benevolent dictatorship” has been a field of an ongoing edit war on who should be given as an example of a benevolent dictator, and so far no clear consensus has been established).

The Wikipedia cult [Interview by Daniel Tynan]. Global Politician. Retrieved from http://www.globalpolitician.com/26423-wikipedia-cult -jimmy-wales Van Maanen, J. (1988/2011). Tales of the field: On writing ethnography (2nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Van Rossum, G. (2008, July 31). Origin of BDFL. All Things Pythonic blog. Retrieved from http://www.artima.com/weblogs/viewpost.jsp?thread=235725 Verberg, N., Wood, E., Desmarais, S., & Senn, C. (2000). Gender differences in survey respondents’ written definitions of date rape. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 9(3), 181–190. Viégas, F. B., Wattenberg, M., Kriss, J., & van Ham, F. (2007).


pages: 924 words: 241,081

The Art of Community by Jono Bacon

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barriers to entry, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), collaborative editing, crowdsourcing, Debian, DevOps, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, game design, Guido van Rossum, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Jono Bacon, Kickstarter, Larry Wall, Mark Shuttleworth, Mark Zuckerberg, openstreetmap, Richard Stallman, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, social graph, software as a service, telemarketer, union organizing, VA Linux, web application

The Drupal community uses a do-ocracy model, meaning people work on what they want to work on, instead of being told what to work on. Decisions are usually made through consensus building and based on technical merit, trust, and respect. As the project lead, and with the help of my comaintainers, I help guide the community in strategic directions. As a BDFL (benevolent dictator for life) I can veto certain decisions, or more importantly, I can make decisions when the community gets stuck. This happens, for example, when there are two competing implementations for a particular feature and the community can’t agree on which proposed architecture is better. How have you balanced the community relationship and investment from Acquia?

If you really want to go a different way, then we encourage you to make a derivative distribution or alternative set of packages available using the Ubuntu Package Management framework, so that the community can try out your changes and ideas for itself and contribute to the discussion. When you are unsure, ask for help Nobody knows everything, and nobody is expected to be perfect in the Ubuntu community (except of course the SABDFL [Self-Appointed Benevolent Dictator for Life]). Asking questions avoids many problems down the road, and so questions are encouraged. Those who are asked should be responsive and helpful. However, when asking a question, care must be taken to do so in an appropriate forum. Off-topic questions, such as requests for help on a development mailing list, detract from productive discussion.


pages: 496 words: 174,084

Masterminds of Programming: Conversations With the Creators of Major Programming Languages by Federico Biancuzzi, Shane Warden

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Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), business intelligence, business process, cellular automata, cloud computing, commoditize, complexity theory, conceptual framework, continuous integration, data acquisition, domain-specific language, Douglas Hofstadter, Fellow of the Royal Society, finite state, Firefox, follow your passion, Frank Gehry, general-purpose programming language, Guido van Rossum, HyperCard, information retrieval, iterative process, John von Neumann, Larry Wall, linear programming, loose coupling, Mars Rover, millennium bug, NP-complete, Paul Graham, performance metric, Perl 6, QWERTY keyboard, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Renaissance Technologies, Ruby on Rails, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, Silicon Valley, slashdot, software as a service, software patent, sorting algorithm, Steve Jobs, traveling salesman, Turing complete, type inference, Valgrind, Von Neumann architecture, web application

He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, an ACM fellow, and an IEEE fellow. He has received numerous professional awards. Guido van Rossum is the creator of Python, one of the major programming languages on and off the Web. The Python community refers to him as the BDFL (Benevolent Dictator For Life), a title that could have been taken from a Monty Python skit (but wasn’t). Guido grew up in the Netherlands and worked for a long time at CWI in Amsterdam, where Python was born. He moved to the U.S. in 1995, where he lived in northern Virginia, got married, and had a son. In 2003, the family moved to California, where Guido now works for Google, spending 50% of his time on the Python open source project and the rest of his time using Python for internal Google projects.


pages: 903 words: 235,753

The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty by Benjamin H. Bratton

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1960s counterculture, 3D printing, 4chan, Ada Lovelace, additive manufacturing, airport security, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, bitcoin, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, Celebration, Florida, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, connected car, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, dark matter, David Graeber, deglobalization, dematerialisation, disintermediation, distributed generation, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, ethereum blockchain, facts on the ground, Flash crash, Frank Gehry, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, Georg Cantor, gig economy, global supply chain, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Guggenheim Bilbao, High speed trading, Hyperloop, illegal immigration, industrial robot, information retrieval, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jacob Appelbaum, Jaron Lanier, John Markoff, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Khan Academy, liberal capitalism, lifelogging, linked data, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, McMansion, means of production, megacity, megastructure, Menlo Park, Minecraft, Monroe Doctrine, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, peak oil, peer-to-peer, performance metric, personalized medicine, Peter Eisenman, Peter Thiel, phenotype, Philip Mirowski, Pierre-Simon Laplace, place-making, planetary scale, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, reserve currency, RFID, Robert Bork, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, semantic web, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Slavoj Žižek, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, software studies, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spectrum auction, Startup school, statistical arbitrage, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, Superbowl ad, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, TaskRabbit, the built environment, The Chicago School, the scientific method, Torches of Freedom, transaction costs, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, urban planning, Vernor Vinge, Washington Consensus, web application, Westphalian system, WikiLeaks, working poor, Y Combinator

That is, insurance as killer app of Internet of Things gets interesting if those “things” are not just smart refrigerators but every little bit of every supply chain that must account for itself as a carbon-intensive Earth object. 12.  Another software trend championed by O’Reilly is Open Stack, a set of tools that allows for, as it sounds, an open source Stack architecture (in a delimited sense). It also claims to work without the governance of a Benevolent Dictator for Life (BDFL). Many Users may be surprised to learn that many of the open source software tools they use every day, perhaps without knowing it, such as Linux, Python, Perl, Drupal, and PHP, are not communitarian anarchies but rather—at least in the last instance—formal monarchies. I raise the point not so as to recommend that platform states function as Cloud-based monarchies, but to underscore that the reality of order-giving force and decision making is not a design problem that can avoided by leaving it to the ever-widening dining tables of horizontal relational “consensus.” 13. 


pages: 330 words: 91,805

Peers Inc: How People and Platforms Are Inventing the Collaborative Economy and Reinventing Capitalism by Robin Chase

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3D printing, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Andy Kessler, banking crisis, barriers to entry, basic income, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), bitcoin, blockchain, Burning Man, business climate, call centre, car-free, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, collective bargaining, commoditize, congestion charging, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, decarbonisation, don't be evil, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, ethereum blockchain, Ferguson, Missouri, Firefox, frictionless, Gini coefficient, hive mind, income inequality, index fund, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, job satisfaction, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, Lyft, means of production, megacity, Minecraft, minimum viable product, Network effects, new economy, Oculus Rift, openstreetmap, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, peer-to-peer model, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, Snapchat, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Crocker, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, TaskRabbit, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Future of Employment, The Nature of the Firm, transaction costs, Turing test, turn-by-turn navigation, Uber and Lyft, Zipcar

“Core Infrastructure Initiative,” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Core_Infrastructure_Initiative. 19. Michael Carney, “GitHub CEO Explains Why the Company Took So Damn Long to Raise Venture Capital,” pando.com, June 20, 2013, http://pando.com/2013/06/20/github-ceo-explains-why-the-company-took-so-damn-long-to-raise-venture-capital. 20. “Benevolent Dictator for Life,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benevolent_dictator_for_life. 21. “Crypto-Currency Market Capitalizations,” http://coinmarketcap.com. 22. “Who Controls the Bitcoin Network?,” Bitcoin website, https://bitcoin.org/en/faq#who-controls-the-bitcoin-network. 23. Bitsmith, “Inside a Chinese Bitcoin Mine,” The Coinsman, August 11, 2014, www.thecoinsman.com/2014/08/bitcoin/inside-chinese-bitcoin-mine. 24.


pages: 394 words: 118,929

Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software by Scott Rosenberg

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A Pattern Language, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), Berlin Wall, c2.com, call centre, collaborative editing, conceptual framework, continuous integration, Donald Knuth, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, Ford paid five dollars a day, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Santayana, Grace Hopper, Guido van Rossum, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Howard Rheingold, index card, Internet Archive, inventory management, Jaron Lanier, John Markoff, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Larry Wall, life extension, Loma Prieta earthquake, Menlo Park, Merlin Mann, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Potemkin village, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Stallman, Ronald Reagan, Ruby on Rails, semantic web, side project, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, slashdot, software studies, source of truth, South of Market, San Francisco, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, Therac-25, thinkpad, Turing test, VA Linux, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K

Finally, critics argued, open source methods still hadn’t proved their value in developing products that were usable for people who didn’t live and breathe computer technology. That complaint, because it was largely true, stung the most. And Kapor hoped his new project would answer it. Torvalds, who is known as Benevolent Dictator for Life of the Linux operating system, consistently exudes a calm optimism about the long-term prospects for the movement he symbolizes. “In science,” as he explained in a 2004 interview in Business Week, “the whole system builds on people looking at other people’s results and building on top of them.

When Kapor began taking the latest builds of Chandler out to demo for friends in the industry—as he finally did, once Chandler 0.5 was finished—it was these extensions, with their almost effortless stitching together of seemingly disparate types of information and services, that wowed. Something very unusual had happened to the Chandler team over time. Not by design but maybe not entirely coincidentally, it had become an open source project largely managed by women. Kapor was still the “benevolent dictator for life,” the title he had half-jokingly accepted on the Chandler mailing list in a tip of the hat to Linus Torvalds’s use of the phrase. But with Katie Parlante and Lisa Dusseault running the engineering groups, Sheila Mooney in charge of product management, and Mimi Yin as the lead designer, Chandler had what was, in the world of software development, an impressive depth of female leadership.


pages: 394 words: 110,352

The Art of Community: Building the New Age of Participation by Jono Bacon

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barriers to entry, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), collaborative editing, crowdsourcing, Debian, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, game design, Guido van Rossum, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Jono Bacon, Mark Shuttleworth, openstreetmap, Richard Stallman, Skype, social software, software as a service, telemarketer, web application

If you really want to go a different way, then we encourage you to make a derivative distribution or alternative set of packages available using the Ubuntu Package Management framework, so that the community can try out your changes and ideas for itself and contribute to the discussion. When you are unsure, ask for help Nobody knows everything, and nobody is expected to be perfect in the Ubuntu community (except of course the SABDFL [Self-Appointed Benevolent Dictator for Life]). Asking questions avoids many problems down the road, and so questions are encouraged. Those who are asked should be responsive and helpful. However, when asking a question, care must be taken to do so in an appropriate forum. Off-topic questions, such as requests for help on a development mailing list, detract from productive discussion.

Django Book by Matt Behrens

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Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), create, read, update, delete, database schema, distributed revision control, don't repeat yourself, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, full text search, loose coupling, MVC pattern, revision control, Ruby on Rails, school choice, slashdot, web application

They released it in July 2005 and named it Django, after the jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. Now, several years later, Django is a well-established open source project with tens of thousands of users and contributors spread across the planet. Two of the original World Online developers (the “Benevolent Dictators for Life,” Adrian and Jacob) still provide central guidance for the framework’s growth, but it’s much more of a collaborative team effort. This history is relevant because it helps explain two key things. The first is Django’s “sweet spot.” Because Django was born in a news environment, it offers several features (such as its admin site, covered in Chapter 6) that are particularly well suited for “content” sites – sites like Amazon.com, craigslist.org, and washingtonpost.com that offer dynamic, database-driven information.