The art of association then becomes, as I have said before, the mother of action, studied and applied by all.
Alexis Tocqueville, Democracy in America
At every moment in the history, human communities have been a way to spread the knowledge. Randall Collins has shown in his amazing book The Sociology of Philosophies, the effects of the communities of philosophers and scientists in the development of the philosophies. The foundation of institutions such as the Royal Society has been influenced by networks of people surrounding specific individuals such as John Evenly or Giovanni Domenico Cassini. Those days, the communications were in Latin and by postal mail, but the networks of people were very similar way to nowadays.
Recently, users and programmers of mainframes IBM OS/360 and mini computers, such as the PDP family, created a community about these technologies. The first versions of UNIX were distributed also in a dedicated community of academic centres. You can get a great story about these times taking a look of the classical The Mythical Man-Month, by Frederick P. Brooks.
Certainly, communities have flowered around software production as in no other technology or science. It might be the reduced needs of capital (CAPEX), have lowered the barriers for newcomers, students, freelances and fans of software development, skyrocketing the production and fostering the innovation. Moreover, FLOSS licences and Internet as a platform have created the perfect ecosystem for one of the most successfully open innovation experience.
Currently, the developer concept includes not just programmers with high technical skills, but also other people with low or even null technical skills, contributing to the open innovation process. The analysis of the technological, sociological and economic effects of this knowledge management for open innovation arena and technological transference between different stakeholders, bring us to a new expertise area which we could call Developer Science or DevSci.
Understanding properly the developer communities requires an analysis of the historic development during the last three decades. Assuming that alternative views are acceptable, a proposed analysis framework is presented below. In my experience, it is very useful to design strategy for a developer program i.e. technology transference in open innovation scenario.