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Free Isn't Communist

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years ago

When people talk about free information, or free sharing of information, they often add an apology or disclaimer for talking about something that sounds like Communism.


Digital information is fundamentally an unlimited-sum resource: the more it's used, the more value is created, and the value is uncorrelated to the cost. Unlimited-sum resources (called "non-rivalrous goods" by economists) need to be handled differently than limited-sum resources.


Whereas limited-sum resources call for commerce-type handling, unlimited-sum resources are dealt with most appropriately by a system that looks a lot like Open Source, or the Hacker Ethic, or the Information System.


Just as commerce and policing have functional and well-established systems of ethics, so does the Hacker Ethic. Any ethic can be mis-applied: used in situations it's not suited for, leading to conflict of interest or worse. Communism is mis-applied ethics. The Information System, used properly, is unrelated to Communism.


Chris is also giving several other talks at this conference.

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