A little list of the various line drawings I’ve encountered over the years of what open source is. These cartoons are both delightful and bloodless.
- Open source is a kind of public good.
- Open source is a kind of club good.
- Open source is a kind of standards making.
- Open source is a tactic in standards battles for limiting the rents captured by firms that implement the standard.
- Open source is r-selected, closed source is K-selected
- Open source as a labor movement, a guild, a profession; i.e. it can adopt any and all the functions those institutions sometime play.
- Open source is a search device in that the users, who are closer to the actual needs, search for innovations that the project can then aggregate.
- Open source as a portfolio of options, i.e. the project relinquishes to users control over an interesting options space.
- Open source as a fast first mover response to network effects.
- Open source as an aggregation of intrinsic motivations
- Open source as a projection of selfish motivation
- Open source as political revolution
- Open source as lower classes slipping around vested interests
- Open source as the immune response of the commons.
- Open source as a negotiation framework.
- Open source as mutual aid society
- Open source as club of enthusiasts
- Open source as platform competitor
- Open source as publish-or-perish analogy
- Open source as manifestation of alpha-male motives
- A scheme for users/buyers to coordinate their activities with supplier firms, i.e a more flexible substitute for rigid contracting or standards.
- A scheme that allows user/buyers to eliminate the need for a supplier (or temper supplier power) by working in common cause to create the supply.
- A means for network owner to temper or eliminate the power of adjacent networks.
- A negotiation framework where the code provides a document around which the parties organize the negotiation.
- A means to coordinate the creation of a pool of knowledge or IP.
- Just another massive multi-player game.
- A form of community specialized on the code as the point of common cause.
- Supply for the latent demand for quality collaborators around anything (or alternately a particular) common cause.
- Stone Soup: A point of rendezvous (kernel, seed crystal) for small contributions that when aggregated creates something tasty.
- An organization who’s parts are homologous to those found in any software firm, but interestingly different.
- Open source is a hot dog and bun economy, (e.g. manufacturing/services) where we give away the hot dogs.
I’m sure there another few dozen I’ve forgotten.
I often see Open Source as a “Knowledge Exchange Market”. The image of people waving patches or bugs in front of a counter is compelling to me.
Like in true Exchange Markets, we trade just paper (actually bits).