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The Economy of Open Source Software

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Developing open source is an economic activity that must be studied as such. Earlier research focused on the idea of the commons , however that research did not have access to modern projects and platforms such as Github.

Over time, the internet became centralized on a small numbers of platforms and corporations. Github is the indisputed leader in the open source community, and that homogenized the way of working of different communities. Moreover, it gave rise to a fluid sense of belonging.

A working idea is that firms are efficient because they have very low internal transaction costs[ @eghbal2020 Working in public: the making and maintenance of open source software ]. Traditionally, that would mean that open source projects, with decentralized teams (and even people belonging to competing companies), would be by definition less economically viable. Their projects would not scale beyond the hobby level.

However, over and over again, open source projects have shown that they are resilient and they managed to be a fundamental part of the world economy. Therefore, it may be that the value of these projects lays in the community around open source , and not in the product itself.


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