From Joshua Gans’s Information Wants to be Shared.
Economic theory has not quite caught up with this interesting area of shared information. I can speculate on future business models for books and the news because they fall within baseline economic motives. But when it comes to shared creation, nonmonetary motives loom larger and the economist’s toolkit is harder to rely upon. Wikipedia is a prime example. More than just a content platform, it is built on and maintained by an army of anonymous volunteers. Back in 2001, when it started, economists would not have predicted Wikipedia’s success; nor can they really explain it now.
Other social scientists have not waited for economists to catch up. But perhaps no person has examined the notion that broad, shared creation can be effective more than MIT professor Eric von Hippel. One of the great facts from his research is this: a vast number of useful innovations come not from some scientist and engineer tinkering in a lab, but from users solving their own problems. Examples abound, from scientific instruments, to mountain bikes and, of course, to open source software. In some cases, the innovations were the work of lone innovators, while for others, localcommunities together produced advances.
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i'm the leftist liberal you've been warned about - the one who genuinely supports the expansion of the welfare state. i love politics and data and graffiti and street art and am far too lazy to use my shift key. if you need to reach me, you can email to abbyjean at the google email service.