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The Economist On The Economics of Sharing 345

Posted by Hemos
from the your-kindergarten-teacher-was-right dept.
RCulpepper writes "The Economist, reliably the most insightful English-language news publication, discusses the economics of sharing, from OSS programmers' sharing time, to P2P users' sharing disk space and bandwidth. " True indeed (about The Economist, I have to remember to renew my subscription); one of the main supports for the article comes from Yochai Benkler latest piece, which is excellent.
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The Economist On The Economics of Sharing

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  • Sure... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gustgr (695173) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .anidnor.> on Monday February 07, 2005 @10:02AM (#11596324) Homepage
    about The Economist, I have to remember to renew my subscription

    and /. editors have to remember to remove personal notes from the stories.
    • Re:Sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Monday February 07, 2005 @10:18AM (#11596479) Homepage Journal
      and /. editors have to remember to remove personal notes from the stories.

      Why?

      Folks, /. is not a news organization, not in the sense you're apparently thinking. It's not The Economist or the NYT or Reuters or even, God help me, USA Today. It's basically a blog, where people write in with things they, in their personal opinions, consider interesting, and other people respond with their own opinions. If what you want is Just The Facts, Ma'am, then read the "Technology" section on the Yahoo newsfeed.
      • Re:Sure... (Score:2, Funny)

        by drinkypoo (153816)
        Why? Because no one gives a fuck if they need to renew their subscription, and it leads to threads like this. Duh.
      • Folks, /. is not a news organization

        Exactly! Its more like Fox news...

        • Exactly! Its more like Fox news...

          Or what Fox would be like if, instead of being run by right-wingers from top to bottom, they switched positions every fifteen minutes: first have the news as reported by a fascist, then by a communist, then by an anarchist, then by a Randroid, then by a monarchist ...
      • Folks, /. is not a news organization, not in the sense you're apparently thinking.

        Hrmmm, let's see Slashdot is an organization and it's primary purpose appears to be reporting news so that the raving hordes have something to gab about. So I don't see why they can't meet minimal standards of conduct and drop the personal notes.

      • "/. is not a news organization,

        "News for Nerds, Stuff that Matters"

        One of those is incorrect. Plz fix, kthx, bye.

      • Re:Sure... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by null etc. (524767) on Monday February 07, 2005 @02:00PM (#11599152)
        As correct as your comments are, you're missing the point.

        It's true, the editors are not obligated to remove anything. Or for that matter, check for non-dupes, etc.

        BUT... One primary reason of slashdot's success is the high signal to noise ratio. Articles are posted that consistently reach a cohesive demographic. Moderation and Meta-Moderation provide methods of locating user comments which have the highest likelyhood of consisting of signal, and not noise.

        That being said, I believe the point of the parent post is that we don't care if the editor needs to renew his subscription. We want signal, not noise, and are merely providing feedback to help promote that practice.

    • Why? It is a perfectly innocuous comment. As another poster remarked, it seems that you would be better served by Yahoo's technology section.

      Personally, I like hearing the editor's opinions once in a while.
  • by JamesD_UK (721413) on Monday February 07, 2005 @10:06AM (#11596350) Homepage
    For a lot of open source project's and P2P networks it's not the case that developers and users are really sharing fairly.

    Most open source projects revolve around a core of developers with the odd donation of time and code from users who extend the code to suit their needs. Ditto with most P2P networks, most casual users are happy to leach whilst most of the bandwidth is provided by hardcore users. Perhaps the exception to this is Bittorrent where users are more inclinded to share fairly.

    • by Steeltoe (98226) on Monday February 07, 2005 @01:12PM (#11598537) Homepage

      For a lot of open source project's and P2P networks it's not the case that developers and users are really sharing fairly.

      Most open source projects revolve around a core of developers with the odd donation of time and code from users who extend the code to suit their needs. Ditto with most P2P networks, most casual users are happy to leach whilst most of the bandwidth is provided by hardcore users. Perhaps the exception to this is Bittorrent where users are more inclinded to share fairly.


      It's not greed, since it's about sharing.

      I don't know what to call it, fear of leeching or something?

      To sum it up: When you share, if you constantly think about if everybody else is sharing as much as you, you'll end up not sharing.

      Period.

      When you share, you share.

      If people leech, don't bother.

      If they spam or hog resources, limit the resources with technical solutions, but you still don't bother.

      This is the truth of sharing. The more you give, the more you get. Karma is absolute truth, but you don't give a damn about it. If you do, you get in trouble. If you analyse it all, you will stop the process itself.

      So what if you share more than the next guy for some times? If you think about it, worrying about who is on top is really capitalism.

      Strange thought, huh?

      If you happen to have more / willing to share more, for some time, then just think what an opportunity!
  • Nice Advertisement (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mad Hughagi (193374) on Monday February 07, 2005 @10:06AM (#11596353) Homepage Journal
    Why does the /. story have to mainly concern itself with word-of-mouth advertising about the publication rather than the article?

    Sharing of information has proven very beneficial in science and there is no mention of this in the article. You'd think that this would be one of the first things that would come to mind when one thinks about innovation in ideas.
    • by peruvianllama (835969) on Monday February 07, 2005 @10:23AM (#11596532)
      From TFA:
      However, with the exception of carpooling, [Mr Benkler] acknowledges he is hard-pressed to find instances where sustained sharing of valuable things is prevalent in the world outside information technology. For most goods and services, sharing will remain the exception not the rule.
      The sharing of scientific information is a much better example than carpooling. Isn't the whole idea of a carpool that each person either chips in for gas, or takes a turn at driving on different days of the week? How is this any different from people sharing an apartment, or even paying taxes to "share" roads and utilities, etc.? Modern P2P applications tend to work around the philosophy of "I'll share with you - will you share with me?", not "I'll share with you, but only if I get something out of it" - it's more of a hopeful expectation than an imperative. People share resources all the time, just not always as freely as happens with most P2P apps. This is probably why scientific knowledge and peer sharing have this overlap, and are both dissimilar from other economic resources; because they both involve sharing knowledge. Nothing is inherently lost if you share your knowledge, whereas sharing your food with someone means you lose some of your food, and even sharing your car means you lose your privacy on the drive to work.
      • Nothing is inherently lost if you share your knowledge

        Uh, there's always the potential "loss" of the credit for other discoveries based on that knowledge. Think Rosalind Franklin and the discovery of DNA; "competitors" saw her crucial photograph and some unpublished work, and she's never really gotten some credit she deserved. Even when you're formally releasing whatever information you have, by publishing it, there's a certain loss in that sense -- of control, or something close to it.

        The scientific me

      • by HiThere (15173) * <`charleshixsn' `at' `earthlink.net'> on Monday February 07, 2005 @04:15PM (#11600571)
        But Science is a non-rivalous good. (Credit isn't...so you guard your publication priority.)

        Only when Science interfaces with Technology, patent laws turn it into a rivalous good...and the sharing stops. I'm not sure, e.g., that the current efforts to coerce the pharmacuetical companies to report all their trials and results will be successful. If it is, it will continuously require force and oversight, and bribery scadals, because that information has been turned into a rivalous good by the legal system.

  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Monday February 07, 2005 @10:08AM (#11596365) Homepage Journal
    ... for the flood of right-wing complaints about the "liberal media." Expect challenges to the "most insightful English-language news publication" from devotees of the Washington Times and Little Green Footballs. ;)

    Pre-emptive strike: when The Economist, which is the leading voice of center-right journalism, speaks favorably of F/OSS, it's time to drop the "communism" line and come up with something else, folks.
    • This has been bugging me for a long time - communism is not a bad thing if you can find a setting in which it works. The Internet is the first such setting, to my knowledge. Any software offerred for free, is part of the new communism - the good kind, the kind where it actually reaches its ideal phase.

      The US government slapped such a negative connotation to the word "communist" during the Cold War, a connotation that belongs to "socialist". Not one of the countries we were against during the cold war was e
      • If "a real communist state is impossible in this world" then how can you also say communism is not a bad thing if you can find a setting in which it works?

        Are we to take your word for it that communism will work if given the proper setting, when all previous attempts to achieve communism failed? By definition [marxists.org], communism does not allow for capitalism to coexist with it. You can have one, but not the other. To call the Internet "the new communism" is to portray the term "communism" as something other than i

      • While I agree wholeheartedly with your title (Communism is not equal to Socialism), you are quite wrong otherwise. I will also address a misconception in one of the child posts.

        First, Communism is a form of Capitalism. The reason this probably sounds strange to the average person is because they have stopped thinking of Free Market Capitalism as a form of Capitalism, and think of it as the ONLY form.

        Communism is State Capitalism. An economy of administrators and workers, hierarchical, with central control
    • Well, the Lib Vs. Con battle is a faux war that is only destroying our collective sense of the death of objective AND investigative AND diverse journalism.

      Journalism started to die off in great masses of professionals in the early 1990s. Today, I can hardly use the term "journalism" since that thing is essentially dead. Many important stories are simply ignored for purely political reasons by men who should know better. And another fat slice of the population finds itself being spoon-fed intellectual
    • by serutan (259622)
      Yeah, it's amazing that people still use the "liberal media" cliche every time reality doesn't support conservative gospel. Maybe they don't know that 95% of American mass media is owned by seven big corporations, or they think guys like Rupert Murdock who run those outfits are flaming liberals. Or they just don't think period. I'm guessing number 3.
  • by manifoldronin (827401) on Monday February 07, 2005 @10:09AM (#11596374)
    I'm not sure presenting OSS and P2P in the same context of sharing is appropriate - sharing something you wrote yourself is one thing, sharing something some others wrote without those others' consent is another.
  • by bennomatic (691188) on Monday February 07, 2005 @10:09AM (#11596383) Homepage
    Imagine if office buildings could somehow be turned into secure sleeping quarters during their unused hours. In places like NYC, where the homeless population is too high for shelters and the winters cut you to the bone, it's a shame there is so much floor space that is lighted and heated while people are shivering and dying outside.

    I'm not saying it would be easy, but imagine if...

    • Imagine if doing such wouldn't open up the building owners to liability, like if some homeless guy trails in some water from the sidewalk, and another homeless guy who walks in, slips and falls, and cracks his head open on the marble floor couldn't get $4.2 million from he who's trying to share.
    • by tetromino (807969) on Monday February 07, 2005 @10:31AM (#11596598)
      The two basic problems are sanitation and security. Who cleans the place up if a homeless guy pisses in the stairwell? Who cleans the place up if beer is spilled on your chair? Is the office bathroom designed to handle a dozen people washing themselves in the sinks every night?

      As for security, unless every single thing is bolted down, your office will suddenly need a much larger budget to replace disappearing paper, pens, coffee, computer parts and the like. And considering that a typical PC is completely vulnerable to physical access attacks - would you feel comfortable typing anything secure on a keyboard in an office that is lived in by unknown non-company-employees?

      I am not saying that your idea is impossible - however, it will not be easy to implement, especially in a way that office occupants find agreeable.
    • Back in my college days, I once asked my boss if I could pay rent for some unused offices. He didn't like the idea very much.
    • The problem is unlike information the distribution method is non trivial. For sharing to occur you need to have excess resources and a means to distribute with negligable cost.
      Yes there is extra space, but the cost to get homeless people there, maintain the building, ensure those people do not do things that would disrupt during business hours, is quite high. The same reason there is excess food, yet people starve. The cost to get the food to the starving people becomes prohibitive in some areas.
  • Academic Discounts (Score:5, Informative)

    by Heartz (562803) on Monday February 07, 2005 @10:09AM (#11596384) Homepage
    Don't forget to ask for you academic discount when subscribing! I don't know how much is it everywhere else, but here in Malaysia, a three year subscription costs USD 141 if you're getting the academic discount!

    WooHoo!

    • Personally I don't know who has time for a subscription! It seems to take me a few weeks to get through an issue from cover to cover... they publish once a week! There's some much interesting stuff in each issue!
      • How to do it (tm) (Score:4, Insightful)

        by A nonymous Coward (7548) * on Monday February 07, 2005 @11:19AM (#11597171)
        The trick is to pause before each article long enough to recollect what has been going on there, then skim the article to see what's changed. Do NOT get bogged down in reading every word. For instance, an article on Nigeria appears every few issues. Don't read it word for word. Recollect that they have a "new" president who has promised to eliminate corruption, that there are problems in the boonies with locals extorting money from the pipeline operators, etc. Then skim the article with that in mind. Usually it's just an update ... new ministers making more promises about corruption, some stats to back it up or refute it, more stats on pipeline problems ... you can finish an entire issue in just a couple of hours that way :-) It's not as satisfying as reading every word, but it gets you thru an issue in a reasonable time. I have to choose between skimming and cancelling the subscription.
  • by bigtallmofo (695287) on Monday February 07, 2005 @10:14AM (#11596436)
    The Economist is a weekly magazine with hundreds of pages of world news. I had a subscription for a couple years before I realized I just could not keep up reading it. Before I stopped subscribing I even tried skipping over those things that held little interest for me. I found it far better to let other people find the interesting things (like this article) and have them eventually posted on Slashdot where I could then read them.

    It's a very interesting magazine though if you can find the time to commit to it.
  • One reason why sharing is so commonplace is that there is enormous overcapacity in both computer memory and internet bandwidth
    I bloody wish. Over 160 gigs, I have less than 3 spanned through 3 drives. I deperately need an overcapacity of storage. And as for bandwitdth...my university's pipe is no where near adequate. I'd do better hooking up Comcast!
    • A 160GB drive can regularly be found for about $100. Even working retail, that's easily earned in a few short shifts plus 8-hour-day weekends.

      Sorry, I can't shed tears for ya.
  • by OnanTheBarbarian (245959) on Monday February 07, 2005 @10:16AM (#11596456)
    Something that the article doesn't really mention, that helped explain a lot of things about corporate support of OSS, is a theory that (as far as I remember) Joel Spolsky wrote about. It's best explained by an analogy.

    The analogy runs as follows. Suppose that a street has a bunch of bun vendors and a bunch of people who sell sausages to put in the buns (wow, talk about decoupled designs). People might be willing to spend $1.50 for a bun plus a sausage - nominally $1 for the sausage and $0.50 for the bun.

    Now, suppose that someone in the sausage industry comes up with a way of "open-sourcing" buns - now buns are free! This happening, you've got a bunch of customers wandering around buying sausages with an extra $0.50 in their pockets. They were clearly willing to spend more on the sausage+bun combination, so maybe you can jack up your price to $1.10 or $1.20 (very unlikely you'll be able to go to $1.50).

    Of course, like all simplistic analogies, this depends on a lot of assumptions. For instance, we
    expect that the customer won't go off and buy something new (a 50 cent Coke, maybe).

    Now, think about companies that have major OSS support. The best example is IBM - which makes its money of hardware and services. Are they the sausage vendors in this case?

    I don't know if this is nonsense, but it's an interesting theory. If anyone has a good counter-argument, let's hear it. If anyone has a silly pun about "open-saucing" hot dogs, well, remember that I'm a computer scientist and can generate an enormous static charge from your keyboard to Get You.

    • The analogy I have heard used equates OSS to the construction industry.

      OSS can artificially manufacture more wealth in the long-term, much like the stock-market does.

      Think of using (and in turn contributing back to) OSS tools like getting free hammers and nails so long as you help improve the design of hammers, nails, and other industry standard tools you use for free. Within the context of using those tools to build things, general practitioners are going to come up with gripes and improvements. I thin
      • OSS can artificially manufacture more wealth in the long-term, much like the stock-market does.

        I think the analogy isn't quite accurate. First, the wealth creation is "natural" (ie, by this I mean that wealth is created by improving the real value of stuff). Ie, many OSS groups are building tools that people use and increasing the value of those peoples' labor and services. Stock markets provide a more efficient means of matching people with available capital to those who need that capital to build stuff

        • Thanks for following up.

          Poor choice of the word "artificial" on my part.

          I believe OSS can manufacture wealth in the manner you describe - by making the delivery of services and products a more productive activity through smarter/better/more effective tools.

          I guess why I used artificial is it seems counter-intuitive until you realize the gains possible. You're giving your employees' productivity away, but in the end, if everyone is doing that, all projects start off closer to completion because of the va
    • A couple of reasons why sausage manufacturers want drop-in-for-free bun-replacements easily available: Buns are a necessary prerequisite for consumption of sausages, but buns are not the competitive expertise of the sausage maker, and a closed-source bun puts them at the mercy of a bun-manufacturer taking over the bun-market and then using that leverage to expand into sausage. See, for example, Web servers. If you want to use the new fancy bells and whistles from IBM, you *need* a web server, period, but
    • by wcrowe (94389) on Monday February 07, 2005 @11:23AM (#11597218)
      computer scientist and can generate an enormous static charge from your keyboard to Get You.

      Are you saying you're a real hot-dog programmer?

    • If anyone has a good counter-argument,

      1) Communist Solution.
      The government owns all bun and all the sausages, so you use it as a bribe officials to escape black-marketing charges.

      2) Socialist Solution.
      The government take it off you by way of increased taxation to pay social security to the unemployed bun vendors.

      3) Capitalist Solution
      The now unemployed bun vendors become sausage vendors, thereby increasing the supply so that you now get 2 for the price of 1 and die an early death from obesity related di
  • by ckemp.org (667117) on Monday February 07, 2005 @10:18AM (#11596474) Homepage
    Sharing becomes prevalent only when it 1) close to free and 2) earns kudos/buying power for the sharer. Unfortunately, in today's global society of mass production and mass distribution, this is largely impossible. What we need for sharing to regain prevalence is the rejection of the idea that it's OK that almost everything we consume comes from far, far away.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The Economist, reliably the most insightful English-language news publication

    Gee, what an unbiased way to present an article for discussion.

    True indeed

    Coming to a conclusion in an article summary stifles discussion. Stop doing that.
    • Don't worry (Score:3, Funny)

      by AtariAmarok (451306)
      "Coming to a conclusion in an article summary stifles discussion. Stop doing that."

      This would only be a problem if everyone RTFA. However, as that is rarely a problem, there is nothing to worry about.

  • Less Economist circle-jerking, more article summary please. This is one of the lamest story headers that has come down the pipe in a while. Yes, I'm sure Hemos and RCulpepper are quite refined and intellectual individuals. Thanks for rubbing our faces in the fact.
  • by gpinzone (531794) on Monday February 07, 2005 @10:25AM (#11596553) Homepage Journal
    I read the old "stone soup" story in school when I was a kid. The teacher and rest of the students didn't seem to see the inherent flaw in the story: an entire village ended up with one stinking pot of soup. Fortunately for Linux, there's plenty of "soup" to go around. Our bowl can be indefinitely replenished. It's worked, so far, because greed and the GPL have been motivating factors in furthering software development.

    It should also be noted that not all sharing is good. [go.com]
    • by AtariAmarok (451306) on Monday February 07, 2005 @10:41AM (#11596734)
      "Fortunately for Linux, there's plenty of "soup" to go around"

      This works untiol SCO shows up and claims ownership of the lentils found in every bowl served, and demands that each soup-eater pay them $699.

    • The teacher and rest of the students didn't seem to see the inherent flaw in the story: an entire village ended up with one stinking pot of soup.

      The idea behind that story was that everyone had enough to survive, but nobody had enough variety to make anything good. When they all threw it into the same pot, they still had plenty of food, but now it tasted better. No more food, no less food, just better food.

      Fortunately for Linux, there's plenty of "soup" to go around. Our bowl can be indefinitely reple

    • Historical note (Score:3, Interesting)

      by HiThere (15173) *
      Historical context:

      In the days before canning armies would starve when on the move, unless they could steal food from villages that they passed. If they did, the villagers would starve.

      So, three soldiers show up in a village... of course the villagers don't know that there are only three, and they don't know that they CAN'T just steal all their food. So they pretend that they've already been robbed, and don't have any left. The stone soup is a con game to allow people to safely contribute without being
  • Have to agree (Score:2, Insightful)

    by HarveyBirdman (627248)
    with some of the posts. I like the Economist (my dad has a subscription and he gives them to me when he's done), but, geez, get a room already. They've had their share of flakey opinions.
  • by zwei2stein (782480) on Monday February 07, 2005 @10:27AM (#11596569) Homepage
    It seems to me that it just described that way it is without some worthwhile analyis what motivates people to share or why should be people reading economiast concerned

    Well, here are my 0.02:

    Why is sharing important:

    It breaks down traditional corporate moloch, it teaches that anarchy-like goal-driven structures are perfectly viable and can outperform hierarchical companies.

    It teaches that inforamation must be free (both as beer and as freedom), if it isnt, there will always be ways to free it.

    It practicaly demonstrates that acting selfish is not way to go (try throttling bt upload to 1kb/s, see results ...), and that being selfish (wealth stocpiling, idea holding) is not way to become succesfull. and that sharing with poor does not mean beeing stupid.

    All in all, its kind of hippie like philosophy crossed with viable economy (thats not based around money, but around ideas).
    • It seems to me that it just described that way it is without some worthwhile analyis what motivates people to share or why should be people reading economiast concerned

      If you read the article it describes that people are acting their own self interest. Donation of time and intellectual resources are not purely charitable, people do them for personal gain (fame and recognition by peers, experience that increases their value in paying jobs, and enjoyment)
      "The reason often seems to be that writing ope
  • by Emperor Shaddam IV (199709) on Monday February 07, 2005 @10:35AM (#11596653) Journal
    Economies of sharing, as socialism moves forward.

    V1.0 - I have axe, you have club, therefore you share everything with me.

    V2.0 - I am the government, therefore you share part of everything with me and I decide who to share with.

    V3.0 - I have fileserver, you have connection, therefore I share everyone else's stuff with you whether they gave me permission or not.

    V4.0 - I have everything you have. You have everything I have. Everyone has shared everything. Life is meaningless. :)
  • by adam31 (817930) <adam31&gmail,com> on Monday February 07, 2005 @11:03AM (#11596971)
    I have to remember to renew my subscription

    Here, you can borrow mine...

  • "The characteristics of information?be it software, text or even biotech research?make it an economically obvious thing to share."

    Step carefull around the ravenous wolves.
  • Insubstantial (Score:2, Insightful)

    by another_plonk (534010)
    Am I the only one who thinks that the article is completely void of substance?
    The author barely even mentions what Open Source is, does not analyse the reasons for Open Source, and gives two-three obvious explanations. Then he attempts to compare Open Source programming with file sharing and SETI@Home. It is wrong to compare these two examples since they're based on unused resources. Spare time is not an unused resource.
  • by xXunderdogXx (315464) on Monday February 07, 2005 @11:22AM (#11597211) Homepage Journal
    From article:
    [Economists] understanding, though, is much clearer than it was 20 or 30 years ago: co-operation, especially when repeated, can breed reciprocity and trust, to the benefit of all.
    I'll take "Things I Learned in Kindergarten" for $100 Alex.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 07, 2005 @01:18PM (#11598615)
    Professor Benkler's article refers here to Slashdot...

    In this case, the "shareable good" involved is
    the time, education, and effort of the users who participate. It is combined
    with a public good--existing information--to form what is also itself a
    public good--a topical news and commentary source.


    The question tho' is whether the employers of many /. 'ers actually agree with sharing their "intellectual goods" when responses are written on company time. An IT professional making $60,000 a year is paid $.50 per minute (hourly liberties taken). If it takes that person 10 minutes to author content for Slashdot they are in effect making a company donation of $5.00. The shareable good is actually paid for by the company who itself hopes the salary investment in the employee returns a greater ROI. For example, receiving valuable IT experience worth more than what the employee is paid and perhaps less expensive than an outside contractor. But the ten minutes is still brought to us by the company.

    I am not opposed to the OSS model but I would like to see more analysis of its true economic cost as I was always taught "there is no such thing as a free lunch." The fact that it does seem to produce a superior product is all the more reason to better understand its true costs.

    Professor Benkler's 10/22/2004 article is a good read. Thanks for posting a reference to it.

    Hopefully this was worth more than $.02
  • by Simonetta (207550) on Monday February 07, 2005 @01:28PM (#11598748)
    Economists have not always found it easy to explain why self-interested people would freely share scarce, privately owned resources.

    In the case of programmers and open source, it is easy to explain. By taking control of the programming environment (i.e. by developing open source operating systems), the software community is organizing to expand their productivity in a way that the corporate environment has always refused to do.

    Companies have always routinely forced programmers to adopt the tools and software language that the companies aquire at the least cost. The efficency of the programmer's skills has always been a secondary consideration.

    For example, a programmer spends five years mastering C++. Then the company they work for goes bankrupt. In the next job, that company uses Z-- as the development language. The new company judges the programmer to be second rate until they have mastered this new language.

    After forty years of having to learn arbitrary new software development systems and tools, the software development community has said, "Enough!". "Now, we will develop the software envirnment, languages, and OS. And you will use it. And it will be free so you can't use the argument that it would cost too much to implement".

    They have had to do this in their own best self interest because companies will always be changing the software development environment when this environment is bought and sold as a product.

    Everyone originally went to Microsoft because they promised standardization at an acceptable cost. But that is no longer the case in a global network.

    For The Economist to claim that the software developers of open source are not acting in their best lnng-run interest is naive of them.
  • by Simonetta (207550) on Monday February 07, 2005 @01:51PM (#11599050)
    Economists have not always found it easy to explain why self-interested people would freely share scarce, privately owned resources.

    In the case of programmers and open source, it is easy to explain. By taking control of the programming environment (i.e. by developing open source operating systems), the software community is organizing to expand their productivity in a way that the corporate environment has always refused to do.

    Companies have always routinely forced programmers to adopt the tools and software language that the companies acquire at the least cost. The efficiency of the programmer's skills has always been a secondary consideration.

    For example, a programmer spends five years mastering C++. Then the company they work for goes bankrupt. In the next job, that company uses Z-- as the development language. The new company judges the programmer to be second rate until they have mastered this new language.

    After forty years of having to learn arbitrary new software development systems and tools, the software development community has said, "Enough!". "Now, we will develop the software environment, languages, and OS. And you will use it. And it will be free so you can't use the argument that it would cost too much to implement".

    They have had to do this in their own best self interest because companies will always be changing the software development environment when this environment is bought and sold as a product.

    Everyone originally went to Microsoft because they promised standardization at an acceptable cost. But that is no longer the case in a global network.

    For The Economist to claim that the software developers of open source are not acting in their best long-run interest is naive of them.

"If that makes any sense to you, you have a big problem." -- C. Durance, Computer Science 234

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