Why Open Source Works

Neuroeconomics now shows how people do not act rationally in the narrow economic rationality sense. Rather, we trust each other, and that trust causes us to be better off, collectively, than we would’ve been not trusting each other.

This to me explains very precisely why open source software works in practice. Frequently, when I tell people about the economics of open source software, people ask “but why don’t people just take the software and use it and never give anything back?” In practice, some people do this, of course. But enough people want a trustful collaboration that leaves everybody better off, and that’s what makes open source software work as an economic reality.



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