- Economic Exchange: Decentralized, emergent systems to facilitate exchange are better than centrally planned ones. Both for positive reasons regarding the efficient transfer of knowledge, and normative reasons for the preservation of freedom via voluntary compliance: ie. capitalism beats socialism
- Open Source software, is also more efficient than "planned" order and the Creative Commons is a people led movement against protectionism. Copyright law should permit freedom and enable creativity
- The market for economics ideas (principly exchanged through journals), and the market for computer code are similarly bound by intellectual property law. For example citation norms (open source code), freedom to produce derivitave works (permission to make further modifications), and commonality (work is bound by the same legal structure).
Whilst my previous comments on academia focus on this third stand, the implications are huge. In a book called 'The Cathedral and the Bazaar', available via amazon.com or online, via Erik Raymond we see a classic text on economic order, demonstrating why evolutionary(/Austrian) economics is set to dominate.
Linux overturned much of what I thought I knew. I had been preaching the Unix gospel of small tools, rapid prototyping and evolutionary programming for years. But I also believed there was a certain critical complexity above which a more centralized, a priori approach was required. I believed that the most important software (operating systems and really large tools like the Emacs programming editor) needed to be built like cathedrals, carefully crafted by individual wizards or small bands of mages working in splendid isolation, with no beta to be released before its time.
Linus Torvalds's style of development—release early and often, delegate everything you can, be open to the point of promiscuity—came as a surprise. No quiet, reverent cathedral-building here—rather, the Linux community seemed to resemble a great babbling bazaar of differing agendas and approaches (aptly symbolized by the Linux archive sites, who'd take submissions from anyone) out of which a coherent and stable system could seemingly emerge only by a succession of miracles.
The fact that this bazaar style seemed to work, and work well, came as a distinct shock. As I learned my way around, I worked hard not just at individual projects, but also at trying to understand why the Linux world not only didn't fly apart in confusion but seemed to go from strength to strength at a speed barely imaginable to cathedral-builders.
The times they are a-changing...