The winning arguments are economic arguments. These are the arguments that will win the day.
And the best economic argument is the simplest one.
Sharing accelerates innovation.
In order to compete economically we need to accelerate change. We need to be free to work together in order to do that. Rapid back-and-forth communication is the only way to get the upper hand on such competitors as China, which fear free thought and thus repress it.
Open source and a free, wide Internet are the only ways we can do this. A proprietary model benefits only the owners of specific inventions, who then can work only within their silos to exploit them.
We have seen how university research, technological innovation, and human communication are all hampered when access to the tools of thought are limited. Free people, free groups, and free thought are the way to economic growth. As it was in the beginning of our country, so it is now. Only more so.
A system that benefits mainly the creators of earlier inventions, or
generations’-old content, is less efficient at creating new stuff. The
key to gaining the benefits from innovation is being first to market,
in volume. Anything else is eating your seed corn.
We can see this in the open source marketplace. A growing commons of
software code enables innovation in every direction. It’s not just the
software companies involved in open source which benefit, but any other
companies which want to use that code, or combine that code, in order
to create new services, new businesses, new value.
We had much faster technology growth in the 1990s, with a free
Internet, than we have had this decade, with a limited Internet. Other
countries have been able to catch up with the U.S. this decade, even
surpass us in many areas (like wireless) because our innovators have
For our economy to grow we need not only to free our people as
individuals, but as groups, and as companies. We need more engineers,
more writers, more developers in every area, fewer lawyers and
accountants. Lawyers and accountants can only deal with the past, with
past actions. Innovators create the future.
What has been happening is that the proprietary industries have
monopolized the economic argument. It is in a proprietary company’s
individual interest that its own past assets be highly valued, and that
few new assets be created elsewhere. That’s true. But it is not in the
nation’s interest, not in the national economy’s interest, that the
future should be hamstrung by the past.
This is the argument we need to start making, now. We need to be
making it in the blogosphere, but also in the media. The sooner these
arguments are understood and implemented in our policy, the sooner we
can become competitive again.