Free Software: The most mature P2P economy

Author: Stefan Merten

Oekonux key concepts

Characteristics of Free Software

  • The actual product is gratis

    Gratis is not crucial but points to the mode of production

  • Source code is available

  • Four basic rights for the users

    • Software may be used for any purpose
    • The sources may be studied and changed
    • The software may be distributed arbitrarily
    • Changed versions may be distributed arbitrarily
  • Licenses embed these rights in the law system

    As we'll see: Such embedding is important


Free in the sense of freedom

Mode of production

  • Without money

    That's why price is zero

  • Effort is taken on a voluntary basis

    • Necessity of concrete solutions to problems
    • Selbstentfaltung of the developers
  • Manifold self-organized in small, independent groups

  • International in the Internet


Often a high quality results


  • More than self-realization

    • Do what you like but not as an atomized individual
  • Selbstentfaltung is "autonomy-in-interdependence"

    • Dependency is not reduction but extension of own possibilities
  • Selbstentfaltung ends up in higher quality

    • Because desire for quality is expression of Selbstentfaltung

      And this means absolute quality - not only relative

  • Possible only without alienation


In general Selbstentfaltung is a desirable goal

Germ form and five-step

  • Germ form is something structural new existing in the old

  • Germ forms develop in a five-step

    • Formation of the germ form

    • Crisis of the old form

    • Germ form becomes an important dimension of development in the old form

      This is where embedding through licenses becomes imporant

    • Germ form becomes dominant

    • Restructuring of the over all process


Free Software is in third step

Signs of maturity

Free Software history

When talking of maturity, history is an important aspect

  • Early 1980's: Richard M. Stallmann coins "Free Software"

    • Ideological background

    • GNU General Public License

      The Free Software license

  • Early 1990's: Linus Torvalds starts Linux

    • "Bazaar" model opened up the development
    • Pragmatism
  • Late 1990's: Eric S. Raymond coins "Open Source"

    • Marketing campaign
    • Free Software gained public visibility


Took 30 years to really take off

Free Software as an economy

  • Wikipedia (2007-10-03):

    An economy is the system of human activities related to the production, distribution, exchange, and consumption of goods and services of a country or other area.

    • "System": (Network of) Free Software projects
    • "Human activities": Made by humans
    • "Production": Based on a production process
    • "Distribution": Through the Internet
    • "Exchange": Not exchange but a flow of goods
    • "Consumption": By consumers as well as producers
    • "Goods and services": Software and support
    • "Country or other area": Global


Free Software certainly is an economy

Success in the old form

  • Free Software is superior to proprietary software

    • Otherwise industry would not use it
    • Important: Quality - not ideological reasons
  • Wide and still rising distribution

    • Final frontier: the desktop

      You can switch to Free Software today!

  • Similar to upcoming capitalism

    Capitalism also started in niches where it was superior


Success in the old form is key for maturity

Beyond old relationships

  • Beyond commodities
    • Absence of scarcity
  • Beyond gifts
    • No social relationships between producers and consumers
  • Beyond classical public goods
    • Not state based
  • Beyond labor
    • Replaced by Selbstentfaltung


Establishing new relationships is key for sustainability

Beyond old ownership

  • Inclusive ownership model
    • Traditional ownership: Right to exclude
  • Beyond exchange
    • You may take without giving
  • Beyond alienation
    • Product is oriented in use value
    • Selbstentfaltung is the anti-thesis of alienation


Establishing new notion of ownership changed history

At several forefronts

  • Social relationships
    • Maintainership
    • Loose binding of people
    • Orientation on projects instead of organization
    • Openness
  • Technical development
  • Globalization
  • Mode of production based on Selbstentfaltung


Sublating the old happens at the forefronts of development

Free in the sense of Free Software

  • Freedom is result of the process

    • Results are Free because of the process

      Can be used by anyone who needs them

      Implies that they are available without payment

    • I.e. unlimited externally

  • Freedom is pre-condition of the process

    • The process doesn't work without Freedom

      Freedom enables contributions from all sides

    • I.e. unlimited internally

  • One's Freedom enables the Freedom of others

    Instead of limiting it like in abstract freedom


Those positive feedback cycles create sustainability

This is where the power comes from

StefanMerten/Talks/MostMatureP2PEconomy (last edited 2009-06-02 16:53:29 by StefanMerten)

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