Makumba: the role of the technology for the sustainability of amateur programming practice and community

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ACM Press
We address the issue of sustainability of practice, which we regard as crucial for the sustainability of the community at large. In the absence of material reward, sustaining a specialized activity such as programming is not trivial especially when members move often in and out of the community. Our case is the group of voluntary, amateur student programmers from a European-wide student organization. We present this setting as an Amateur Community and as a Community of Practice, and show how such framing helps in understanding sustainability of practice. Although being totally voluntary and managing a large intranet, the group has been thriving for six years. To explain such high practice sustainability we examine the role of the technology framework used by the group during this time. We then propose a more general framework for understanding practice sustainability in the context of amateur communities of practice.