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<p>BOSTON – The loosely knit community of open-source software developers are the latest in the tradition of high-tech rebels leading the way to new standards and technologies, but they aren’t all “script kiddies” and teen hackers, a new survey shows. Respondents to a survey by Boston Consulting Group found that the average contributor to the open-source software community has more than 10 years of programming experience. Indeed, it’s far more than a hobby. Credit Union Times regularly reports on developers who came up with innovative solutions at their credit unions using open-source and third-party software, and they’re just part of the greater trend that has seen the creation of such growing market forces as Linux operating systems and Apache Web servers. And their motivation is intellectual as much as it is taking on the likes of Microsoft and other protectors of proprietary code, according to the survey of 526 registered users of SourceForge.net, billed as the world’s largest open-source development Web site. The survey of self-identified “hackers” also found that 56% are working IT professionals, not academics or students, and that they spend an average of at least 10 hours a week working on shared-source projects. Tellingly, taking on software giants is not a major motivator to this crowd. They instead cite “having fun,” “enhancing skills”, “desire to support the OS community” and “user needs, personal and professional” as what makes them tick. BCG calls the study the first of its kind that highlights the motivation of open-source “hackers” and the implications of their work. (“Hackers” are skilled, fast programmers. “Crackers” are the malicious types who create viruses and deface Web sites.) Managers might well want to consider how to exploit that positive mind power, the study’s sponsors say. “Imagine the competitive advantage that awaits a company that achieves this level of motivation across all its core processes,” says Bob Wolf, a senior manager at Boston Consulting Group and survey co-author. Adds Bob Shapiro, a former CEO at Monsanto and now senior advisor at BCG: “I’ve estimated that large organizations typically operate at something like 10 to 20 percent of their creative potential, measured by their actual accomplishments in peak situations compared with their accomplishments on an average Tuesday afternoon. “It’s worth considering whether the open source model responds to that and other possible corporate shortcomings.” -</p> <p>[email protected]</p>

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