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New Economy Forum Briefing
J. Bradford DeLong
- There has been a recent surge of interest
in open source software development, which involves developers
at many different locations and organizations sharing code to
develop and refine programs for free.
- To an economist, the behavior of individual
programmers and commercial companies engaged in open source projects
is initially startling.
- Understanding the rise of open source requires
two lines of investigation:
- What factors have suddenly reduced the costs
of undertaking and coordinating an open-source project?
- What factors have suddenly raised the benefits
of participating in an open-source project?
- The costs have been reduced by the internet.
- The benefits have been raised...
- ...by the internet.
- ...by the fact that two heads are better
than one when debugging is in progress.
- ...by the need for software engineers to
build reputation among their peers in order to advance
- Nevertheless, there is little doubt that
open-source development is a genuinely new phenomenon
- Gift-exchange organization is traditionally
hard to support because free-riding tends to diminish effort
below the level at which the organization can function.
- But now the ability to draw small amounts
of effort from a very large number of people makes gift-exchange
modes of organization surprisingly viable.
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