Malsow’s 5 Hierarchy of needs is commonly know to people, this was updated to 8 a while back.

1. Biological and Physiological needs – air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep, etc.

2. Safety needs – protection from elements, security, order, law, limits, stability, etc.

3. Belongingness and Love needs – work group, family, affection, relationships, etc.

4. Esteem needs – self-esteem, achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, managerial responsibility, etc.

5. Cognitive needs – knowledge, meaning, etc.

6. Aesthetic needs – appreciation and search for beauty, balance, form, etc.

7. Self-Actualisation needs – realising personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.

8. Transcendence needs – helping others to achieve self actualisation.

I found the 8th one inspiring and probably answers one of the reasons why people create open source software. It further says:

Inherent in the nature of humans is the desire to improve and better ourselves. This process of going  beyond our current limitations is often referred to as “self transcendence.”  Self Transcendence can apply to any aspect of our being; the physical self transcendence of running faster; the mental self transcendence of going beyond our purely egoistic thinking.

However at the heart of self transcendence is a spiritual concept that we are growing into a more illumining nature and gaining a wider perspective of our true self.

Self transcendence is not competing with others. Self transcendence is a personal journey of self discovery. To practise self transcendence we need personal effort, willingness to change. However self transcendence needs to involve an awareness that our success doesn’t just involve our “little I”, but also the universal self (or bigger  “I”).

Spiritual seekers have experienced self transcendence as the grace that allows them to be aware of the infinite consciousness of inner delight. In this spiritual self transcendence the different religions and spiritual practises converge on the common teaching of going beyond the limitations of the ego and being aware of our higher Source. This Higher Self is called by many different names, but ultimately is beyond any metaphysical concept.

The practise of Self transcendence is not limited to those who are overtly religious. Any human being who strives for greater perfection and a higher perspective is practising a form of self transcendence, and it is this self transcendence that gives us joy.

Here is the above Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs diagram in OpenOffice format if you need to edit.. If you make it better, send it back to me.