- Another person tries to make a compact characterization of the economics of open-source and other freely copyable goods: (via Notional Slurry)
- agalmics (uh-GAL-miks), n. [Gr. "agalma", "a pleasing gift"]
- The study and practice of the production and allocation of non-scarce goods.
- agalmia, n.
- The sum of the agalmic activity in a particular region or sphere. Analogous to an "economy" in economic theory.
My own particular interest is in how open source economics interfaces with the "normal" economics of scarcity -- ie, while it's wonderful that software can be given away for free, until potatoes can reproduce themselves as easily it will be problematic for people working on open source to feed themselves. Back in the embryonic days of the FSF I made this argument, but nobody paid me much attention, and as it turns out my objections, while valid, did not stop open source from taking over the world. And many people seem to be able to support themselves while working on free software, one way or another.
I still suspect there is something screwy about the economics, and I'm not the only one. It seems like programmers are collectively undermining their own value in the for-pay economy, to the delight of big service corporations like IBM.
what we're seeing playing out among coders is what I'll term the Programmer's Dilemma. Because skills in open source programming are increasingly necessary to enhance the potential career prospects of individual programmers, individual programmers have strong motivations to join in - and as more programmers join in, the incentive for each individual programmer to participate becomes ever stronger. At the same time, the total amount of money that goes to programmers falls as open source is adopted by more companies. Individual programmers, in other words, have selfish motives to engage in collectively destructive behavior.