OII - SDP - 2004 - Blog

Friday, July 23, 2004

The Economics of Open Source [David]

Paul David, Professor of Economics at Stanford University, presented a session this morning on open source economics. Thus the aim of The Economics of Open Source was to overview one of the kinds of problems that basic analysis is involved in within this sphere.

He first spoke about the present, followed by a short historical interlude (e.g. where have open source institutions come from?), and then the future: the long term sustainability in the present policy climate re: things such as IP protection.

Knowledge, to cite David, is:

The capability to interpret data and to turn them into structured data which I would call information.

Communication of knowledge is mediated though the process of generating information.

He explains that research generates information, which in turn builds and uses knowledge, and it is the production of observations of data which needs to be interpreted.  None of this however was a surprise to me.

In line with Ed Steinmueller's presentation on Online Epistemic Communities last Friday, David advises information is not normal private good; they have public good features, such as infinite expansibility, non-rival use, indivisibility, substantial fixed costs of creation, and significant costs of exclusion from access and possession.  Though a quote from Thomas Jefferson’s 1813 letter to Isaac McPherson sums up information rather nicely:

He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.

The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Koch and Peden eds. 1972. pp. 629-630.

From here, the presentation was challenged due to time contraints (forcing David to quickly skim through a large amount of his presentation) and (for me) the relevence of the information to my interests, therefore I regret I was not able to capture anymore information from the session.


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