Subject: Re: crux of the essence
From: "tony stanco" <>
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 20:15:53 -0400

>>At 3:35 -0700 10/16/01, Tom Lord wrote:
>>Seriously though -- if you can cite a particularly relevant piece of
>>economic theory worth reading to get good ideas about the business of
>>software -- especially free software -- and give convincing reasons
>>for that cite, I'd like to read it.  Personally, I'm skeptical:
>>software has all sorts of structural properties for which there is no
>>good precedent in the history of human economic activity, as near as I
>>can tell.  Surely you disagree...

>Jean Camp wrote
>I think perhaps the creation of copyright is the analogy. Copyright
>is taken as a given now but it was quite radical when created. As the
>press matured the regulation of information based on the scribal
>model was found intolerable. Of course in any nation the regulation
>of the press was tired to the revolutionary  age of the seventeenth
>and eighteenth centuries. Yet in all nations copyright was found to
>be the only reasonable way to control information.

It is at least arguable that all economic theory of the last 300 years was
premised on the concept of property, because it was trying to explain the
Industrial Revolution and is therefore irrelevant to a time that will be
defined by intellectual activity.

Concepts of property were completely different in the feudal period, because
society was structured around status, not trade or business then. Once you
reorganize the world so you are going to trade things in the Industrial Age,
you need to have "things" first. So the legal regime invented the concept of
property that we have today. While that worked fine for 300 years, because
it was based on physical property, it has always been strained for
intellectual things. But that was less of a problem until now because the
defining characteristics of the age were physical things, not intellectual
ones. That does not mean the intellectual ones weren't present. It means the
spotlight was not on them, but on the physical things. (Agricultural
products were also present in the Industrial Age, but were not the defining
parts of that age, either, though there was a time that they were the
defining characteristics.)

With history's spotlight moving from physical things to intellectual, we
need to understand the implications. Intellectual things don't have the
essential characteristics of physical property -- scarcity and exclusion.
Scarcity and exclusion -- the essential characterists of physical property--
explain why you want competition to get those things to the highest and best
use. So you can view current day economics as a theory of scarity allocation
of physical things.

The new world of intellectual things are essentially different. They are
most efficiently produced by inclusion, not exclusion or competition to the
same degree. It is arguable that traditional economics, therefore, describes
nothing in the new age and sends us in the wrong direction.  Of course, you
can disagree and probably do...