david_christie writes "Dan
Gillmor has a piece on the economist Yochai Benkler's
paper "Coase's Penguin, or Linux and the Nature of the
Firm" which examines open source projects
asan example of an emerging general model of economic behavior that is neither market nor company based. A previous version of the paper was noted
in slashdot back in October, but it's been revised for upcoming publication
in the Yale Law Review and is well worth a second look. Benkler attempts to
explain why open source projects succeed, without falling back on theories about
the special nature of software projects or hacker culture. He suggests that
more general economic principles are at work, which are displacing the
traditional motivations (market prices and employee relationships) that
economists use to quantify individual behavior. If he's right the open source
model could spread to other forms of creative work where the output is
information or culture (music production comes to mind). The author thinks
deeply about the information flows characterizing collaborative projects like
free software development ("commons-based peer production"). That distinguishes
this paper from the usual economist mumbo-jumbo about price points and such.
Like Larry Lessig on the
legal side of things, this is a guy who gets it and has thought deeply about how
his field relates to it."
I go on working for the same reason a hen goes on laying eggs.
-- H.L. Mencken