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Fundamental text by StefanMn and StefanMz - Part 3 (was: [ox-en] Fundamental text by StefanMn and StefanMz - Part 1)

Hi list!

3 weeks (21 days) ago Stefan Merten wrote:
We broke the text up into four parts three of which are already
written in a first iteration. I'll post the first part here and
continue with the others.

Below is the third part - although still with a few sharp edges.

StefanMz and I also have a quite interesting discussion about contents
while working on the text. We are going to publish it here when we are



--- 8< --- 8< --- 8< --- 8< --- 8< --- 8< --- 8< --- 8< --- 8< --- 8< ---
Contemporary germ forms


* Initial version edited by StefanMerten
* Version 2008-03-27 - edited by StefanMeretz: wrote introduction; put peer production first

Peer Production

At present we witness a tremendous transformation of global
capitalism. We can observe a change from a Fordist to a neo-liberal
accumulation regime, in order to integrate more and more previously
state-driven sectors into a private valorization process. This process
is accompanied by unlinking large parts of society being no longer
profitable enough. However, another process of unlinking takes places,
on which we will focus in this chapter: the emergence of peer

Due to reorganize social processes around new ways of production, this
as of now small tendency has the potential to overcome capitalism. We
claim that peer production is a germ form of a new society based on a
mode of prodcution beyond exchange, market and money. This far
reaching hypothesis can be justified by using the germ form approach.
Within the emergence of peer production in general, so far Free
Software is the first, most developed and most visible part. Thus, in
this chapter we look at Free Software in more detail to learn about
the principles of peer production. In the final chapter we evaluate
the historic potential of peer production in general.

By *peer production* we mean phenomenons which have a couple of
features [#WorkInProgressCriteria]_.

Though there are a lot of peer phenomenons, peer production is
primarily about production and not distribution. This separates peer
production from barter exchange and other distribution related
approaches. [#WorkInProgressCriteria]_

Peer production is based on volunteering, not on
coercion or command. Nobody can force others to do something, and
nobody is forced to obey others. This does not mean that there are no
structures. On the contrary, usually there are maintainers who can
decide, for example, which contributions to accept and which to
refuse. But nobody can compel others to do anything they do not want
to do. Moreover, you are never forced to accept the existing
structures as they are. If participants of a project are unhappy about
some aspects of the project they can try to convince the others to
change them. If that fails, they still can fork the project: they can
break away from the others and do their own thing based on the results achieved together so far.

Only if a project allows for influences for anyone interested, it can
appreciate and use all useful ideas and other contributions regardless
from where they come. This unlimitedness is indeed one of the decisive
advantage of this mode of production as far as the resulting products
are concerned. One result of this unlimitedness is the *global
character* of peer production projects. This global character of peer
production projects is usually mediated by the Internet which makes
the Internet an important tool for peer production.

Exchange value as a driving aspect for a project introduces alienated
goals into a project which are not useful. We all know how profit
orientation in capitalism can ruin the most interesting projects. If,
however, exchange value is not among the drivers then the use of the
product itself is the only driver left for production leading to a
utility orientation. Peer production projects have a deep utility
orientation resulting in products with a higher quality
[#CommercialPeerProduction]_. A peer production process is not limited
by the quality which is necessary to sell a product on the market.
Instead most peer production projects strive for the best thinkable
product in their respective field. This is striving for *absolute
quality* instead of relative quality as on an exchange based market. A
result of the absence of exchange value is that ampleness is not a
threat--as it is for commodities which must be kept scarce--but
something useful.

Contributing to a peer production project has strong elements of
Selbstentfaltung (see below). In a peer production project
Selbstentfaltung is indeed the motivation for the contributors to
spent effort. The people do what they do because of their inner
motivation here called Selbstentfaltung, and not of alienated goals.
There is no external incentive like earning money so people can do
what suits their needs best. In fact this orientation of
Selbstentfaltung in peer production is what make this whole peer
production thing interesting for people who are generally interested
in emancipation. Selbstentfaltung really is the term for the maximum
possible freedom. One decisive point is that Selbstentfaltung and
alienation are antagonists.

Freedom of the results is outcome and
precondition of the process. This rule transforms the openness
mentioned above into a positive feedback cycle. A positive feedback
cycle like this is needed for any sustainable project and the railway
example in the last chapter gives a good illustration of an historical
feedback cycle. This positive feedback cycle also strengthens the
distinctive features of the peer production project.

So far peer production is easy in the realm of digital information.
This is a consequence of the ubiquitous use of digital machines and
networks and the universality of digital copy. In the following we are
discussing the emergence of Free Software and Free Culture as a sub
process of the emergence of peer production in general. This sub
process can also be explained by using germ form theory and serves as
another example. However, the concept of digital copy does not
directly apply to production of material goods. Whether or not the
principles of peer production can be transferred to the material
sphere or what that even means is an open research question.

Free Software

As can be expected Free Software [#FreeSoftwareOpenSource]_ is
software - i.e. programs and data
which are needed to run your computer or do interesting things with it
like writing texts, surfing the Internet, playing music or games and
so on. In this respect there is not much of a difference to
proprietary software you may have for instance from Microsoft. In fact
compared to proprietary software the interesting thing in Free
Software is its creation process, its mode of production.

One important expression of this special mode of production of Free
Software is the openness of the production process where the human
readable source code containing all the know how is available for
everyone to see. For proprietary software--which in short is software
built the capitalist way--the sources are a well-kept secret
[#SourceCode]_. A proprietary software vendor does a lot to prevent
others from seeing the source code. This secrecy in proprietary
software is needed because the know how contained in the sources could
give competitors of that software vendor an advantage. The source code
of software is very much like other business secrets.

As mentioned in Free Software this source code is openly available. In
fact it is a stated goal that others are able to learn from the know
how contained in the source code [FSF-Rights]_. But not only this. If
you have the source of some software available you can change it as
well. You can change it to suit your needs better than the original
author did. In fact this is another stated goal of Free Software. Once
again this is at least unusual for proprietary products because the
vendor is the one who wants to earn money from selling modified
products [#UserInnovation]_.

You can see here how the mode of production influences the exact way
production is organized. For a proprietary software vendor it is vital
to save its know how from the competitors so you have a typical closed
process. For Free Software, however, based on another mode of
production openness is not seen as a hindrance but as an advantage.
In fact the secrecy employed by proprietary software vendors is an
inalienable feature of that mode of production based on exchange. So
even this small part of the big phenomenon gives some hints on how the
mode of production we can see here is different from what we know from

Another important expression of this mode of production is the right
to share the results. Indeed this type of sharing is fought fiercely
by proprietary software vendors. For proprietary software the type of
sharing which is expressly allowed for Free Software is known as
pirate copying--and you probably heard of it. For Free Software
everyone is entitled to distribute the software
[#CopyleftRestriction]_. And this is in fact what happens. There are
huge repositories of Free Software where you are allowed and welcome
to simply take what you need. And there is nothing required in
exchange. One aspect of this right to share is that the very most Free
Software comes without a price. Partly this is possible because a lot
of Free Software is created by volunteers in their free time.

This aspect probably shows even more of a new quality of the mode of
production visible in Free Software. These fundamental features of
Free Software make it impossible to make a piece of Free Software a
commodity in the capitalist sense. Existing Free Software is readily
available and so scarcity as the basis for a commodity does not exist:
When there is no scarcity of a good you can not sell it--why should
someone pay for something s/he can get for free?

Emergence Step: Free Software in the 1980s/1990s

Now that we have at least a slight idea about Free Software and peer
production let's look how Free Software came about historically.
Indeed it can be seen as a germ form development process in the realm
of software production.

Free Software started out in the 1980s. A good part of the initial
initiative for Free Software came from Richard M. Stallman who started
the GNU project in 1983 and founded the `Free Software Foundation`_ in
1985 [Wikipedia-GNU]_.

Richard M. Stallman had worked at the MIT and from the practice there
he was used to a very open style of developing software. Before the 1980s
software has been generally considered an add-on to the expensive
hardware--more like a manual for your new TV. People who worked with
software were used to a free and unhindered flow of software artefacts
as well as to easily change those artefacts. Mr. Stallman loves to
tell the story where he suddenly was confronted with a new era where
software became a commodity [Stallman-Printer]_. He personally ran
into the limitation that to be a commodity software must be made
scarce and secret--the exact opposite of what Stallman was used to.
The end of this story was that Stallman founded the GNU project and
created the first tools of Free Software [GNU-Manifesto]_.

As typical for a germ form in the emergence step during this time the
phenomenon of Free Software was even hard to recognize. The term Open
Source--may be better known than Free Software today--was invented 15
years later and main stream media did not recognize Free Software at
all. However, the experts in the field learned about Free Software
through the communication channels and forums which already existed in
the slowly emerging Internet [#UseNetAsForum]_. The open development
process and the sharing of Free Software indeed led to communities
which wrote Free Software and made it available by the means of this

Many experts in the software field tried out Free Software which was
readily available. Let me (Stefan Merten) give you a personal example.
During my first job I needed a C compiler running on an SCO operating
system. SCO delivered a C compiler as part of the operating
system--however, it had some bad bugs which introduced errors in your
programs. Programming correctly is hard enough by itself and so the
last thing you need is buggy tools which add errors to those you make.
I tried out the `GNU C Compiler`_ which was one of the initial GNU
products. I was immediately convinced because it worked out of the box
and--most important--had no errors.

Like me many experts were quickly convinced of the Free Software
products which were available at this time. Another important step was
the creation of the Linux kernel by Linus Torvalds in the early 1990s which together
with the big amount of GNU software led to a complete operating system
based exclusively on Free Software [Torvalds-LinuxAnnouncement]_. For
the first time you were able to run not only Free programs on a
proprietary platform but everything from the very basis to the most
sophisticated application was Free Software. Compared to older Free
Software projects the Linux project also employed a different style
which has been described well by Eric S. Raymond
[Raymond-CathederalBazaar]_. This style which was even more open than
the one employed by the GNU project and together with the quickly
growing availability of the Internet brought the final breakthrough
for Free Software.

Though the movement gained momentum during the 1990s it was still hard
to recognize the phenomenon of Free Software. Among experts, however,
Free Software was more or less well known meanwhile. It happened quite
often that technical staff in companies started to use Linux boxes
while the official management still swore using Microsoft and other
proprietary software vendors. When the Open Source hype started in
1998 those same managers were proud that they had already a Linux box
running--though they even did not know of it a few months before.

While the history of Free Software is itself interesting, in our
context it is more important that from the initial start the
phenomenon of Free Software showed those two key features which we
think are crucial for a contemporary germ form and which are deeply
embedded in the mode of production of Free Software.

The first key feature is the non-alienated nature of the production
process. When Richard M. Stallman started the GNU project he were keen
to create the best software thinkable to replace the as of this time
already proprietary variants of the Unix operating system. A
motivation like this is fundamentally different from wanting to sell a
commodity. When you are trying to sell a commodity it completely
suffices to create something which is sellable. Absolute quality is
not a goal [#QualityMonopoly]_.

This is different if interested experts work on a project. They do
contribute because they are able to employ their best abilities and
they are proud of it. They do contribute to create the best they are
capable of. Or to put it in different terms: When you take the effort
of producing software as a volunteer then you are interested in the
use value of the resulting product. As mentioned above this
non-alienated relation between the effort taken and the result of that
effort is an important aspect of what we call Selbstentfaltung.

The second key feature which is present from the start is the
unlimitedness of the project. This unlimitedness comes in two ways.
Free Software projects are unlimited externally in the sense that
everyone may use and share the results of that Free Software project.
However, Free Software projects are also unlimited internally:
Everyone may contribute to the project. And in fact that is something
which really happens. Every user of a piece of Free Software can talk
to the developers and contribute wishes for features, bug reports or
even pieces of code. In fact in many Free Software projects there is
no clear inside and outside. Instead there is a continuum where every
contributor can decide how much s/he wants to get involved in the

While the internal unlimitedness is usually accomplished by open
mailing lists, wikis, or forums where users can put questions and
contributions the external unlimitedness is guaranteed by the Free
Software licenses. Free Software license are legal means to embed the
phenomenon of Free Software in the capitalist environment
[Merten-Licenses]_. Indeed the `GNU General Public License`_ (GPL_) as
the most used license was one of the very early achievements of the
Free Software Foundation. In fact the GPL is a genius hack which uses
the logic of copyright to turn it against the idea of copyright: Where
normal copyright restricts the usage of the material under this
copyright, the GPL gives you a lot of rights.

Crisis Step: Inferior Quality of Proprietary Software

During the same time Free Software slowly developed in niches there
were a major crisis in the proprietary software world. This crisis
mainly happened in the range of medium sized server operating systems
and other software for that realm. For the relatively rare and
expensive mainframes (in computer jargon also known as »big irons«)
there were special operating systems available. Other software has
been developed in-house with the customer especially tailored for
these mainframes. On the other hand the upcoming small and personal
computers which really took of after the invention of the IBM PC were
running Microsoft operating systems and a big variety of commercial
off-the-shelf software.

For the relatively numerous medium sized workstations of this time
Unix was the perfect operating system. Among experts in the field Unix
was and still is considered an operating system with a few but genius
concepts. The most genius concept is probably the building block
system which lets you build complex functionality from basic building
blocks. However, after a long open history Unix became a proprietary
system and different vendors developed different versions of it. The
problem was that these versions were not compatible with each
other--which is understandable if you remember that each vendor was
striving for unique features to be distinguishable from the
competitors. [Weber-SuccessOpenSource]_

Meanwhile it is common wisdom that in big coupled systems network
effects are of immense importance if it comes to market growth. This
is especially true for software where a software product is the more
useful the more computers you can run it on and the more users are
using it. To gain network effects you need standards unifying
different products enough to make them interoperable. Standards,
however, come in two flavors: On the one hand there are official
standards which are defined by a more or less mighty standardization
institution. Those standards are open because usually they are readily
available and they can be followed by everyone. On the other hand
there are monopolies which implicitly define standards. Proprietary
monopolies are not open, however, because they are embodied only by
certain practices which are usually not documented and may change in
unexpectable ways at any time making it dangerous to rely on them.

The network effects done by monopolies can be studied easily when
looking how Microsoft works. Though the quality of Microsoft products
often was small if compared to competitors [#WindowsApple]_ Microsoft
managed to leverage the network effects which started with MS-DOS.

For middle sized workstations there were neither a monopoly nor a
standard which were able to unify the different vendors enough. There
actually were attempts to create such a standard but these never took
off. As a result the Unix market died off slowly and during the
1980s/1990s many experts in the field worried that Microsoft succeeds
in extending its monopoly to those middle sized servers.

Expansion Step: Free Software Today

However, the germ form of Free Software had grown enough to restore
hope. During the 1990s on the medium sized servers GNU software and
the GNU/Linux operating system became more and more common. In fact
the Internet today is not thinkable without Free Software. One of the
major success stories here is the `Apache web server`_ [#WebServer]_:

  Apache has been the most popular web server on the Internet since
  April 1996.

  -- `Apache home page`_

Besides the World-Wide Web e-mail is the other most important
Internet service firmly based on Free Software. Also the whole
software running the basic network infrastructure is mostly Free
Software [#FreeSoftwareRouters].

If you see that the tendency to use Free Software on the server side
is still expanding one can probably say, that on the servers the war
has already been won--and the winner is Free Software. Though today
this more and more is generally agreed to, it can not be overestimated
what this means: A new mode of production embodied by Free Software
was able to overcome the traditional mode of production embodied by
capitalism in one of the most important and advanced facilities of our
time! In fact there seems to be no similar example since the shift
from feudalism to capitalism.

Though the server side is won already the final frontier for Free
Software is the desktop. As mentioned above Microsoft was able to
leverage network effects and still has a near-monopoly on desktop
computers. However, hope is rising that step by step this monopoly can
also be overcome by Free Software. The most interesting development
during the past years is probably the Ubuntu_ distribution bringing
Free Software to more and more desktops.

Microsoft being one of the richest companies world wide is probably
the company which has to loose most if Free Software gains further
momentum. So it is interesting to see the reactions of this
multi-national company. These reactions can be summarized well by a
quote from a well known non-violent revolutionary:

  First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight
  you, then you win.

  -- Mahatma Gandhi [#Ghandi]_

For a long time Microsoft ignored Free Software--at least officially.
Internally there there were studies on that new phenomenon and what it
could mean to Microsoft [Raymond-Halloween]_. Then for a short time
Microsoft started to ridicule Free Software.
After that Microsoft started to fight Free Software. This is done in
many fields. It started by comparisons of Free Software with cancer
[Microsoft-Cancer]_. Then a number of times Microsoft did anything to
prevent governments of developing nations to employ a Free Software
strategy [Microsoft-ThirdWorld]_. Today they started to embrace
companies which earn money by selling services around Free Software

But though many times during the last 25 years Free Software has been
thought of dying it still lives and is as vital as always. According
to our analysis the very reason for this is that some fundamental
principles of Free Software--namely the possibility for
Selbstentfaltung and the unlimitedness--can not be copied by the
capitalist logic. Capitalism can not cope with unlimitedness because
you need scarcity to sell a commodity. Copyright is a way to make
information goods scarce and thus subject to commodification. Copyleft
turns this around and destroys scarcity. On the other hand
Selbstentfaltung is the opposite of alienation. However, the
money system of capitalism is build on one of the most massive
alienations mankind saw so far and alienation destroys
Selbstentfaltung at least partly. If the reason for the success of
Free Software is really the Selbstentfaltung and the unlimitedness
then capitalism can not cope with this without giving up its
fundaments. In other words: Capitalism is not able to absorb the
principles of the success of peer production.

Free Culture

You now may say: »Ok, this special mode of production seems to work
for software - but though this is interesting software is still a
small part of the world«. That's true. However, this mode of
production seen in Free Software is applicable to all information
goods where creativity plays a role. Two important examples beyond
Free Software are the Wikipedia and the OpenAccess movement.

You probably heard of Wikipedia_ already. It's that huge Internet
based encyclopedia which has been created by volunteers during the
past few years. Though the subject of Wikipedia is very different from
the subject of any Free Software project there are still a lot of
commonalities. The most important one probably is that both subjects
are information goods. Also important is that Wikipedia as well as
each successful Free Software project has a visible and worthwhile
goal which can be shared by many people. This is important to attract
capable contributors which in turn is important to be interesting for
many people which in turn attracts more contributions... As you can
see the positive feedback cycle is exactly the same in both cases.

At the moment it must be said that Wikipedia faces serious governance
problems. Compared to Free Software the biggest problem probably is
that Wikipedia is dealing with information which can influence a lot
directly in the rest of the world. Which on the one hand is a nice
thing because it indicates the success of Wikipedia, but on the other
hand attracts many parties which are interested in modifying this
information so they profit from it. Though these problems are serious,
Free Software projects also had to deal with governance problems.
Often they have been solved in one way or the other. [#Governance]_

Though you probably heard of Wikipedia you may not have heard of the
`OpenAccess movement`_. The OpenAccess movement is a movement rooted
in the scientific community. Scientists of many fields (though mainly
in the nature sciences) started to claim that the results of their
research should be freely available. In scientific communities the
flow of research results often takes the form of scientific magazines
publishing scientific papers.

Though during the era of the printing press scientific magazines
probably were the best way to communicate, the Internet tends to
obsolete printed magazines as a means of transportation of
information. Together with what is known as a the magazine crisis
where scientific publishers raise the prices this led to initiatives
to do scientific magazines directly in the Internet [Merten-Berlin4]_.

It is noteworthy that this habit of publishing openly is deeply rooted
in the sciences. The possibilities the Internet provides technically
enable that logic to grow. However, again the motivation of the
scientists and their interest in good research is the motor of that
development. OpenAccess style science suits there Selbstentfaltung
better than then traditional way.

Apart from that there are more phenomenons of cultural peer production out
there. The blogosphere for instance can be considered a peer
production phenomenon. In the field of music there are some sites like
Jamendo_ which distribute music under the CreativeCommons_ licenses.
Especially in South America there are interesting developments around
music and culture in general. There are also peer production models
with a commercial component like MySpace_, Flickr_ and similar

Generally it can be stated that the example of Free Software more and
more ignites peer production projects in other fields. However, so far
they are all rooted in producing information.

New Front Lines

This production of information is also the field where today the main
front line between the old logic and the new logic establishes. In the
capitalist system copyright and the restrictions this normally means
have been in effect from the beginning. Actually copyright privileges
and laws have been created exactly at the point where it was possible
to make money from what today is called intellectual property

Though copyright and other laws about intellectual property like
patents have been in place for very long, during the last decades this
field receives more and more attention. So for instance the `World
Intellectual Property Organization`_ (WIPO) has been founded in the
year 1967 and since then tries to improve the restrictions on
information and to apply them on a world-wide basis.

These new front lines around intellectual properties cut through each
field they are applied to. Science where on the peer production hand
we see the OpenAccess movement on the other hand we see that
universities are urged to run for patents. Or in other words: To lock
away information. It is amazing to see that during the same time two
opposite movements are taking place around the same topic. This can be
seen as an indication that the development of society as a whole is at
stake here.

But science is only one example. Again software is another good
example. In software there is the copyright which is also the basis of
the Free Software licenses. While copyright affects only a single,
identifiable expression, patents affect ideas. In the USA for some
years now there are software patents which make software development a
dangerous thing. Because software patents are granted for really
simple and obvious ideas it is easy to develop some software which
hurts one of the many software patents which exists until today.

In practice software patents are mainly used by big companies which
hold large software patent pools and have ceasefire agreements with
other big companies based on these patent pools. Of course software
patents restricting the use not only of software but even of ideas are
completely against the spirit of Free Software. Software patents are a
real danger for Free Software because a Free Software developer has no
big patent portfolio to make ceasefire agreements with big companies.
As a result it is easy to threat a Free Software project by claiming
that it hurts a software patent--and this happens in practice

Though software patents in the USA are a reality in the EU they have
been prevented so far. In fact this was one of the rare occasions
where the Free Software movement materialized and fought for its
rights with classical means like demonstrations. Together with a lot
of small and medium enterprises from the software business the Free
Software movement accomplished to convince the EU parliament to not
pass a law which had introduced software patents in the EU

There are many more examples which show that the front line of
intellectual property is an important one. The attempts to privatize
life itself by claiming patents on genes and organisms is one such
instance. Another instance is the steadily rising attempts to enforce
the patents on medical drugs. The problem is that many drugs can be
produced very cheaply. Human logic says that this is good news because
those people which need the drugs can afford them easily then. But the
pharmaceutical industry can not earn much money from low priced drugs
and therefore has no interest in selling them. As a result they are
not produced because pharmaceutical industry in the developing
countries are not allowed to make generics because of the patents on
the drugs. As a consequence people in developing countries suffer from
illnesses which could be treated easily [XXX-Generics]_. If you are
looking for a proof for the inhumanity of the intellectual property
system you probably found one.

Today: Expansion Step Is Reached

Today in the field of software one can safely assume that according to
germ form theory the expansion step is reached. Free Software *is* an
important aspect of the development in the old form. For other fields
this is not yet as clear but--as mentioned--some examples already
exist which point in the right direction.

At this stage it needs to be remembered that according to germ form
theory we witness the beginning of the middle of a long running
revolutionary era where a new mode of production with a new logic step
by step replaces the old one. A major change in the mode of
production, however, is probably the change of a paradigm with the
deepest impact in human history. Therefore in the middle of the
process it can not be expected to foresee the final result. Also in
the expansion step old and new logic are both strong and
contradictions are not an exception or an accident but a logical

For instance when looking at Free Software people are often puzzled by
the fact that Free Software developers still need money to pay for
their living. That's true. But that's not a problem. Free Software
developers to some degree live in both logics already. Today the
process of overcoming the old is not far enough to rely completely on
it. But as we saw in the example of capitalism this type of
contradictions does not mean that it is impossible for the new logic
to overcome the old one--but it takes some time and effort.

It also needs to be emphasized that what we see today is not the final
stage - remember: we are in the third of five steps. When capitalism
started its expansion step nobody was able to imagine a concrete
capitalist world 300 years later. Nonetheless we are living in it and
have a hard time to imagine a world based on different fundaments such
as peer production.

This especially applies to the field of material production. Today it
is hard to see how material production can be organized according to
the logic of information goods. Indeed today there is a big difference
between digitized information goods which are more or less non-rival
by the virtue of the Internet and material products where a single
instance of a material product can be considered rival.

.. This final part has to be re-written according to new structural proposal

However, the production of food in the feudal area was also organized
according to a completely non-capitalist logic. We saw that the
production of food step by step became subject to capitalism and
meanwhile reached a stage where production of food is simply an annex
to industrial and capitalist production. It is perfectly possible that
in a dominance or restructuring step the problem on how to embed
material production in the peer production mode of production is
solved on a basis which can not be imagined today.


.. [#SourceCode] Computer programs exist in two flavors: On the one
   hand there is the executable code which can be executed by the
   machine. This type of code is on a very low expression level very
   close to the features of the machine. It is hard to understand for

   On the other hand there is the source code from which the
   executable code is generated. The source code is what humans use to
   express what they want the machine to do. It is much easier to
   understand than executable code and it is far easier to read and
   write. While from executable code it is next to impossible to
   understand the know how contained in a program a good piece of
   source code is exactly made to help this understanding.

.. [#CopyleftRestriction] On what terms you may redistribute Free
   Software in fact is governed by the license which allows you to do
   so. The most used license GPL_ contains the so-called *Copyleft*
   principle which not only obliges you to redistribute the executable
   form of the software together with the source code, but determines,
   that modified (derived) versions of the software also have to be
   covered by GPL when distributed.

.. [#CommercialPeerProduction] In fact there are peer production
   projects which have one or another commercial appendix which is not
   oriented in use value but in making profit. What this means and how
   it needs to be considered is in fact a difficult question which
   probably can not be answered on a general basis. Several examples
   from Free Software show, however, that it is fundamental that the
   core project keeps its use value orientation and the commercial
   interests are grouped only around the core process. Indeed peer
   production projects with a commercial part are a contemporary
   contradiction typical for the expansion step of a germ form.

.. [#WorkInProgressCriteria] A set of criteria to distinguish peer
   production processes from other phenomenons is work in progress.
   There probably is some vague consensus in the research community
   around Oekonux but it is not yet settled. See [GermForm-Criteria]_
   or [Siefkes-Peerconomy]_ for some suggestions.

.. [#QualityMonopoly] Indeed quality in proprietary projects is less
   important the more a vendor has a monopoly. If you have a
   monopoly--such as Microsoft nearly has on the desktop
   market--quality doesn't matter at all. In fact it was the success
   of the Free Software Firefox_ who forced Microsoft do write a new
   Web browser replacing a years old product.

.. [#Ghandi] Quoted after

.. [#Governance] In fact peer governance is a major topic for which so
   far there is relatively little research. One of the central
   insights (not only) of the Oekonux project is that peer governance
   often involves an explicit maintainership including an explicit
   maintainer role.

.. [#FreeSoftwareOpenSource] Actually there are two common terms for
   the phenomenon described here: *Free Software* and *Open Source*.
   Free Software is the older term while the term Open Source has been
   coined explicitly as a marketing term striving to strip the
   political context from the term Free Software.

   On a practical basis the terms are interchangeable in nearly all
   aspects. This text will prefer Free Software over Open Source.

.. [#UseNetAsForum] I for instance learned about the programming
   language Perl back in the late 1980s when its inventor Larry Wall
   published Perl 4 through the Usenet [Wall-Perl4Usenet]_.

.. [#WindowsApple] An easy reference for this is the comparison of
   Windows 3.1 and the Apple operating systems of that time. When
   Microsoft finally released Windows 3.1 it was really inferior to
   the operating systems which ran on Apple MacIntosh computers at the
   same time. However, the Apple operating systems were also
   proprietary at this time and not available for the hardware
   Microsoft products were made for and so were no real alternative.

.. [#WebServer] A web server is the piece of software which serves the
   pages of the World Wide Web so you can watch and use them with your
   Web browser.

.. [#FreeSoftwareRouters] In fact some network routers which do not
   look like computers are running Free Software network stacks.

.. [#UserInnovation] But see Eric v. Hippel's work on the importance
   of user innovation [Hippel-Democratizing]_ also in general
   production of material goods.

.. _Apache home page:
.. _Apache web server:

.. _Free Software Foundation:

.. _published Perl 4 through the UseNet: XXX

.. _GNU C Compiler: XXX

.. _GPL:
.. _GNU General Public License: XXX

.. _Ubuntu: XXX

.. _Wikipedia: XXX

.. _OpenAccess movement: XXX

.. _Jamendo: XXX

.. _CreativeCommons: XXX

.. _MySpace: XXX

.. _Flickr: XXX

.. _World Intellectual Property Organization:

.. _Firefox: XXX


.. [Merten-Licenses] Discusses Free Software licenses from an Oekonux
   perspective (slides) URL:

.. [Siefkes-Peerconomy] Christian Siefkes, From Exchange to Contributions. Generalizing Peer Production into the Physical World, Ed. C. Siefkes, 2007

.. [Weber-SuccessOpenSource] Steven Weber; The Success of Open
   Source; Harvard University Press; 2004; ISBN 0-674-01292-5

.. [Stallman-Printer] Sam Williams, Free as in Freedom. Richard Stallman's Crusade for Free Software, O'Reilly, 2002

.. [GNU-Manifesto] The GNU Manifesto,

.. [Wall-Perl4Usenet] XXX

.. [Torvalds-LinuxAnnouncement] XXX

.. [Raymond-CathederalBazaar] XXX

.. [Raymond-Halloween] XXX

.. [Microsoft-Cancer] XXX

.. [Microsoft-ThirdWorld] XXX

.. [Microsoft-Novell] XXX

.. [Merten-Berlin4]

.. [XXX-CopyrightInvention] XXX

.. [Hibernate-Patent] XXX

.. [XXX-EUNoSoftwarePatents] XXX

.. [XXX-Generics] XXX

.. [Wikipedia-GNU]

.. [Hippel-Democratizing] XXX

.. [FSF-Rights] XXX

.. [GermForm-Criteria]

.. ############################################################################

Contact: projekt

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