Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Assumption 9 – Selling and giving as connected strategies in an increasingly open source and freeware world

Posted in macroeconomics, reexamining the fundamentals by Timothy Platt on March 2, 2010

There is a tremendous literature out there on open source and freeware, copy-left and other approaches for offering value without asking for or expecting traditional remuneration as in a buyer/seller relationship. There is an equally developed literature on its alternative in ownership restrictive and commercial models and approaches and in how these two basic approaches both complement each other and come into conflict – and often simultaneously. Having said that, I also point out that this is a complex of still completely unresolved issues.

I stated in the title to this posting “… in an increasingly open source and freeware world” but with copyright protection expanding to include software and other new content domains, and with a steady expansion of the lifespan of copyright protection, to cite one example, I could just as easily have reversed the title to “Selling and giving as connected strategies in an increasingly closed source and monetizing market world.”

I see the basic tensions and the inability to resolve and reconcile the differences between these approaches as coming from a failure to identify and examine fundamental assumptions, and both as to the nature of the marketplace and as to the nature innovation. In a way the entire series I have been running on macroeconomics has been chipping away at this underlying disconnect. There, my focus has been on the disconnects in valuation between information per se and other non-rivalrous goods and services, and more economically traditional rivalrous good and services (e.g. CD’s and DVD’s that rivalrously convey this information). I seen clear articulation of the meaning of value and in a way that encompasses both as a crucial piece of this puzzle, but as important as it is that we develop an overarching economic and macroeconomic framework that would only address part of this issue.

Any viable, meaningful, long term solution to this will have to inform development of new business models, and it will have to do this in ways that facilitate effective, connecting legal change. The later point is guaranteed to take the longest as the law is always reactive, and for anything as rapidly changing as technology – a key to this, the law always lags far, far behind in establishing effective, meaningful framework.

This is definitely an open issue, and I simply add that I will continue to post on it and from a variety of perspectives.

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