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The Marginalization of Scarcity

Mar 30, 1999, 18:48 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Robert Levin)

"The recent growth of interest in Linux and "open source" or "free" software raises questions about the nature of the "gift culture" of the Internet. Why do people give away information? What do they hope to gain? How can the Internet continue to work, in a world in which politics based on shared ownership has serious, demonstrated problems?"

"The cooperative spirit of the Internet is not a historical fluke. If human beings allowed their aggressive, suspicious sides to dominate, we'd live in a world in which people took things by force instead of buying them."

"The trend in technology is an exponential improvement of knowledge and capabilities. Make anything cheap enough, and it will no longer be scarce enough to be considered an economic good."

"The behavior of agalmias gives us useful information about the ways that societies can change and grow. Open source and free software communities provide us with excellent modern day agalmias for study, as does the Internet itself. But long term trends in technology suggest that material scarcity will likely become less common, and agalmic behavior more common. In studying the behavior of agalmias we can see intimations of our technological future."

Complete story.