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Distributed Content Development

OpenContent advocates adoption of the principles Eric S. Raymond outlines in his essay "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" for use in the development of Content. This type of model relies on (and succeeds because of) the interest and effort of talented authors and the truth of what Eric has dubbed "Linus' Law," which states that "given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow" (remember Eric is specifically addressing programmers and software developers). The thinking goes like this: if everyone has access to the internal workings (or "source code") of a program, then whenever they encounter a problem using the software they can identify and fix it themselves. Those fixes can then be incorporated back into the "official" version of the product. Eric dubbed this type of group development (i.e., develop, release, use, fix / improve, re-release) the "Bazaar" model of development.

Perhaps the greatest power of the Bazaar model is that it allows all phases of the development cycle to occur simultaneously, as scores of people use and fix (or suggest and build new features into the source code of) a program. A new (fixed / improved) version of the program is made available frequently. (For some programs being developed in this manner, re-release occurs several times weekly and sometimes on a daily basis!) The Bazaar model for Content development will bring these same benefits to online instructional content; namely the creativity, expertise, and problem-solving power of a potentially infinite team of instructional designers and subject matter experts. A development effort of this kind will fill the Internet with high quality, well-maintained, frequently updated Content. (In contrast, when was the last time you updated your lecture notes?)

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