When I blogged about this yesterday I was unaware that the topic I was broaching — the similarities between the Free and Open source movement and utopian socialism — was a well-traveled topic.
My friend Rob Atkinson (for whose Information Technology & Innovation Foundation I am an advisor) turned me on to an article by Milton Mueller on “Info-Communism” which, despite the provocative title, is actually a careful review of the debate between the open-sourcers and the information-property-ites and well worth reading if you want to understand what is morally and politically good about open source.
Meanwhile, my intent was to discuss whether or not open-source approaches ehance or stifle innovation. My working hypothesis for some years has been that open-source code enhances innovation in areas that use the code (duh) but stifle innovation in the open-source area itself, and that open source is appropriate for software projects where stability and quality is more important than innovation.
I still sort of think this, although I’m open to counter-examples.