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."
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