Open Source Software for Humanity: Term Paper

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From Humanitarian-FOSS Project Development Site

Assignment

The term paper is worth 20% of your final grade in this course:

  • Topic. It may be on any topic related to the open source movement, hopefully on a topic that we have not covered, or not covered exhaustively, in the course.
  • Length. Ten to 12 pages double spaced (approximately 2500-3000 words).
  • Style. Either standard research paper style, with adequately referenced sources, appropriately formatted citations, and a bibliography, or wikipedia-style, with appropriate citations and references.
  • Process (Deadlines): The following checkpoints are required:
    • Proposal (20%) (Monday, April 14): One page plus a preliminary bibliography. This should be written as a proposal for a grant (okay) to produce a report on your topic. That is you should attempt to justify that the topic is worthwhile and important, that you have identified appropriate reference material to support its development, and that you are qualified to do a good job on it. I will either accept the proposal as is or make suggestions for modifications.
    • Draft Review (Monday, April 21): This step is optional. I will provide feedback on your paper if you hand in a clean draft, double spaced, properly sourced.
    • Final Paper (Wednesday, April 30): Final papers are due.
    • Oral Presentations (20%) (Monday, April 28): A 7-8 minute oral presentation, using Powerpoint or similar medium, summarizing the main findings of your term paper. (We may need an extended class period for this??)

Topic Ideas

  • Open Source X. Research and discuss how the open source model is being used in some domain X.
  • Commons-based Peer Production. Explore further the pros and cons of the peer-production model introduced in the Benkler and Nissenbaum paper.
  • A Overview and Guide to Open Source Licensing. Research the genesis and current state of open source licensing as a form of intellectual property.
  • An Overview of the X Project. An overview of the genesis and current state of a major open source software project, such as the Apache or Linux or Mozilla project.
  • Open Source Politics. How has the open source movement changed the political landscape and the way modern day national campaigns are run? What effects have blogs, YouTube, and other "open" media outlets had on American politics?
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