I'm having a good debate with Zbigniew about that Shirky essay.
He almost convinced me that Shirky was just rehashing Worse is Better but, here's my latest come-back :
... notice that Shirky's argument has some originality. He's putting together the "right granularity of development" discusion, with a more explicit emphasis on the *size* of the user community. And although this isn't made explicit, he must have Ross Mayfield's different scales of network at the back of his mind.
That isn't something in "Worse Is Better", The Art Of Unix Programming or any Extreme Programming or software development discourse I've come across.
It comes directly out of the Social Network Analysis perspective of trying to analyse what is so important about networks, and discovering that small "creative'' networks have an important role in the overall ecology.