…goes the headline of the Economist’s Special Report on opensource business. And how nice, I can actually link to it and you can read it for free.
Lots of good stuff there. Like “A world in which communication is costly favours collaborators working alongside each other; in a world in which it is essentially free, they can be in separate organisations in the four corners of the earth“.
One thing I disagree with. “….even though open-source is egalitarian at the contributor level it can nevertheless be elitist when it comes to accepting contributions. In this way, many open-source projects look more hierarchical than the corporate organograms the approach is meant to have torn up“. Not true. So not true. The role of the core, moderator or 1000lb gorilla is nothing at all like that of the manager in a hierarchy. The core does not decide where resources are to be applied or prioritised, cannot direct the time or work of the (usually voluntary) contributor, has neither carrot nor stick to wield, and does not waste time in mangling or mutating weak signals down the “hierarchy”.
There is no hierarchy if there is no lock-in, no ability to rule, no reporting relationship.
What Sun did with Java looked like that to begin with, hierarchical opensource. It didn’t work. Sun gave up. And then it worked.