Ramblings & ephemera

How free riders are good for open source

From Howard Rheingold’s interview in “Howard Rheingold’s Latest Connection” (Business Week: 11 August 2004):

Then there’s open source [software]. Steve Weber, a political economist at UC Berkeley, sees open source as an economic means of production that turns the free-rider problem to its advantage. All the people who use the resource but don’t contribute to it just build up a larger user base. And if a very tiny percentage of them do anything at all—like report a bug—then those free riders suddenly become an asset.

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