I’ve spent some time reading a recent study titled Economic Impact of Open Source Software on Innovation and the Competitiveness of the Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) Sector in the EU. Don’t worry, you won’t think the title is too long when you see the document, all 287 pages of it. And no, I haven’t finished reading it yet. I’ve given it a quick skim, am now on pass 2, which is where I take notes and doodle; it looks like I will stay on pass 2 for a week or more.
18-24 monthsIn the meantime, any of you who’s vaguely interested in the impact of opensource should take a look at it. I know it’s big and cumbersome, but you don’t have to print it. I know it’s detailed and tedious, but life is not always about soundbites. I know it’s full of figures and charts, some of them dating back to 2002, but a lot of it is largely new and interesting.
You can find the study via this link, which also takes you to the press release announcing the publication of the study earlier this week.
By the way, Rishab Aiyer Ghosh is one of the authors. I first came across Rishab when I started reading First Monday, and he quickly became a must-read for me. One of the books he edited, called CODE, or the Collaborative Ownership and the Digital Economy, is for sure one of my top ten business books of the decade. I think everyone who has even a modicum of interest in the DRM and IPR discussions should read the book, even before they read Lessig or Fisher.
Here’s a sample of the things I learnt in the skim
- There appears to be a Moore’s Law of sorts operating upon the FLOSS codebase, with a doubling every 18-24 months
- The FLOSS codebase today represents over 130,000 person-years of effort
- FLOSS-related services will represent 32% of all IT services within the next 3 years
Also, you may find these three diagrams of interest, showing the FLOSS committer population in the context of overall population, connected people and the rich. I’ve never seen this sort of information, so I think we owe the authors something.
One of the more intriguing observations in the study, which comes across in the summary as well as in the body of the document, is the following:
- That the current battles about DRM and IPR are having an undesired effect, and that is to deflect creatives resources towards “defensive” innovation.
- That FLOSS activities give us an opportunity to correct this blemish
Read it for yourself. Let me know what you think.