cooperation in which users interact within communities, is also common.”44 Because of the Internet, people with a shared interest, no matter how niche, can easily find each other. Users of a particular product may take it upon themselves to create a community centered on its evolution, an idea seen in its purest form by looking at large open source software projects. In these communities there are hundreds of people directly contributing to the evolution of a product through modi ications of software code. The people involved are not paid to improve the product and often, like most adaptation, the changes they make are entirely self-motivated. Over time though these individual changes add up and the product evolves based on collective needs. In reference to this emergent process open source pioneer Eric S. Raymond has commented, “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.”45 Embedded in that statement is a reference to what Von Hippel calls “sticky information.”46 He defines information as “sticky” when it is held by one person but costly or impossible to transfer to another. Ask a professional skateboarder how they perform a particular trick, or an artist how they came to the form of a sculpture—they will likely have trouble articulating a list of steps. Information about needs that people have can be also “sticky.” Consider how it is far too costly for a designer to discover every possible need in a given solution space, and costlier still to design for all those edge cases. But people in a given situation tend to know exactly what they need, especially when something goes wrong. Raymond’s observation is what happens when there is a high degree heterogeneous needs and the people affected know how to develop solutions themselves—even niche problems are found and fixed quickly.
Von Hippel, 93.