"More specifically, he sees free software as the natural and
more logical extension of the insight that had produced the
shareware culture a few years before the start of the GNU Project
and the FSF. With the emergence of the personal computer,
entrepreneurs were finding that "the barriers to entry were so low
that you didn't need a lot of the overhead that was involved in
commercial stuff, and you might just be able to get away with
trusting people to pay you. There was much blind feeling around the
concept of producing stuff in some sort of context that was
different from cars."
"According to Vinge, what the GPL and the software and
institutions that have grown up around it have produced is "a
platform for experimenting with social invention. In the 20th and
19th century, if you wanted to experiment with a new infrastructure
for people to interact in, in most cases, like with the railroads,
you needed enormous effort. And now -- we can actually do social
experiments -- cooperative experiments -- much more cheaply, and
you can design ways for people to interact based on just the
software guiding what the interactions are like."
"Vinge acknowledges that the consequences have not always been
beneficial. "One thing the last ten years have proved is that we
seem to be very bad at thinking how stuff can be abused," he says,
no doubt thinking of such phenomenon as crackers and online
predators. "Any time you can make something a hundred or a thousand
times cheaper than it was before, there are probably side-effects.
But there's a tendency when something works really, really well to
push it hard and deliberately avoid thinking about
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