froscon2008 - 1.1

Free and Open Source Software Conference

Stefan Merten
Day Day 2 (2008-08-24)
Room HS3
Start time 15:15
Duration 01:00
ID 181
Event type lecture
Track Future Trends
Language used for presentation en

The (Open Source) World in 2020

A History Based Look into the Future

The talk addresses the FrOSCon topic "The Open Source World in 2020 - Ein Blick in die Glaskugel...". To address the topic from a scientific perspective the talk takes the position of: If you want to predict future you must have understood history. In its first part the talk looks back into the history of Free Software as the most visible and most successful example of an Open Source phenomenon. It sketches a picture beginning with the earliest forms of Free Software until today. In the second part the talk explains Selbstentfaltung and openness as the basic principles of the phenomenon of Free Software and similar phenomena. It explains how these principles constitute a new mode of production and why this mode is stronger than the capitalist one. The talk gives a short introduction to a general model of development and shows how Free Software as well as capitalism develop(ed) according to this model. The third part draws the conclusion and extrapolates the discoveries to the near future. It is outlined where further expansion and deeper embedding of those basic principles can be expected.

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The (Open Source) World in 2020

A History Based Look into the Future

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:Author: Stefan Merten :Organization: Project Oekonux

A brief look into history

Let's go 24 years back: 1984

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To peek into the future it is important to understand history

  • Free Software very small

    • Hard to notice at all

    • Internet did not exists as it does today

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    One of the main foundations of today's Free Software

  • A few decided persons with lots of idealism

    • Like Richard M. Stallman

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    Just founded GNU project

  • No similar phenomenon

  • But: Basic principles were already there

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    What the basic principles are follows in second part

.. admonition:: Conclusion Very beginnings may be hard to notice

12 years later...: 1996


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Company involvement was very small

"Open Source" was not invented

  • Still no similar phenomenons

    • Though the example started to inspire people
  • Important: Basic principles stayed

  • .. admonition:: Conclusion

    Good ideas grow because they are useful to people

    Today: 2008 [1/2]

    • Free Software is here to stay

      • Lots of contributors

      • A sustainable and enduring economy exists

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      I.e.: A system where goods are produced and distributed

      • Though not an economy based on exchange...
    • Free Software is very visible

      • Using Free Software is common place and growing

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      Companies engage in Free Software in various ways

      • Last frontier: The desktop

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      But Ubuntu comes for the helping

    Today: 2008 [2/2]


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    And some more...

  • The successful example of Free Software inspired these

    • Based on the same basic principles

    • Basic principles turned out to be successful

    • And also in other fields than software

  • .. admonition:: Conclusion

    Basic principles are strong enough to spread out

    Understanding history

    First basic principle: Selbstentfaltung

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    What are those basic principles after all?

    • Selbstentfaltung simplified:

      • Having fun individually

      • While maintaining a relationship to society

    • Fundamental motivator for humans

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      Complex reasoning in Critical Psychology based on evolution

    • Different for every individual

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      Good news: Every task may find an executor

    • Includes responsibility

    • Important expression: Volunteering for useful tasks

    .. admonition:: Conclusion

    Something what individual and society wants

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      This combination is pretty new to mankind

    Second basic principle: Openness

    • Openness in two ways

      • Internal openness: Everyone may contribute

      • External openness: Everyone may use the results

    • Technology of digital copy is the historical enabler of openness

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      Made external and internal openness easy

    • "Free" in Free Software really means:

      • Internal openness is a prerequisite for external openness

      • And vice versa

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      That defines a positive feedback cycle

    .. admonition:: Conclusion Technology may make way for new societal phenomenons .. container:: handout
      *Societal* phenomenons - not only technology

    A new mode of production emerges


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    Feudalism is the prior one

  • No exchange in the core of peer production

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    Can not be explained by classic economic theory

    • "This is doomed to fail" - they say

    • But: It exists, grows and is mimicked in more and more fields

  • .. admonition:: Conclusion

    Something wrong with classic economy ;-)

    Power from new principles

    • Power comes from the basic principles

    • Selbstentfaltung leads to absolute quality

      • If it is your thing you want to be proud of it

      • No boss stops you from doing it

      • Impossible if you need to make profit

    • Positive feedback cycle of openness leads to sustainable expansion

    • Stronger principles than that of proprietary software

    .. admonition:: Conclusion

    Oekonux thesis: New mode of production => new society

    Five-step model of development [1/2]

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    Saw: Basic principles forming new mode of production

    Now: Explanation of how development occurs

    • Germ form = something based on new principles

    • 1: Emergence step - Emergence of the germ form

      • Think: Free Software in 1984
    • 2: Crisis step - Crisis of the old form

      • Think: Crisis of Unix on midrange servers
    • 3: Expansion step - Germ form becomes important in the old process

      • Think: Free Software today

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      Coexists with the old form

      Not always peaceful

      • Key question: Does it keep its germ form features?

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      For Free Software: Basic principles can not be integrated

    Five-step model of development [2/2]

    e796185a71e417fbcf0278b6735ddf0e .. admonition:: Conclusion There is hope!

    Successful germ form: 200 years back

    5134fa21a266d722c74fd1d51c1d4727 .. admonition:: Conclusion A new mode of production as a germ form *can* take over

    A peek into the future

    Some words of caution

    fc456052d4d5eba4b04895a26d045e87 .. admonition:: Conclusion But the question was only for 12 years ;-)

    Vertical expansion

    62ea1920931af6c86fa591a449dce913 .. admonition:: Conclusion Vertical expansion is quite sure

    Horizontal expansion


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    Because of technology of digital copy

    • Easier when you don't need lots of expensive infrastructure
  • Some guesses

    • Free pharmaceutical information

    • Free genetic information

    • Free hardware designs picked up by industry

    • Free car design picked up by industry

  • .. admonition:: Conclusion

    Horizontal expansion depends on many aspects

    Deeper embedding

    • Principles more widely accepted

    • States further this more

      • Basic income for this type of activity
    • Companies exploit these principles more and more

      • See Eric v. Hippel's work on User Innovation

    .. admonition:: Conclusion

    More won't happen in 12 years

    Wrap up


    • Free Software took time to take off

    • Basic principles: Selbstentfaltung and openness

    • On this basis a new mode of production emerges

    • New mode of production will determine the future

    • We are witnessing the first steps into a new epoch

    .. admonition:: Conclusion

    In 2020 you will know whether I'm right ;-)

    Thank you

    • For more on this:

    • Contact: smerten AT oekonux DOT de

    • 4th Oekonux Conference

      • Free Software and Beyond - The World of Peer Production

      • 2009-03-27..29, Manchester (UK)

    .. admonition:: Conclusion

    Thank you for listening