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[Fsfe-france] Re: The Community is the Company

From: TonStanco
Subject: [Fsfe-france] Re: The Community is the Company
Date: Wed, 30 May 2001 06:27:04 EDT

>  I read your explanations carefully. Could is be summarized as:
>  Free Software cannot be developped if there is competition ? Or: 
>  If Free Software wants to compete with non free software from a
>  commercial market point of view, it must find ways to reduce competition
>  in order to better share the develpment costs ? 

This is right and wrong at the same time. Free software has lots of 
competition and it must continue to have competition. But the competition is 
in the developmental competition by the developers. What free software can't 
have is simple financial competition through competing marketing 

In the Industrial Age, there was a certain balance of intra-firm (internal 
employee competition) and inter-firm competition (across company 
competition). In the Intellectual Age, there just needs to be a different 
balance because intellectual pursuits are different from industrial 

Because there needs to be more sharing of information in the Intellectual Age 
for the greater efficiencies, more work has to be organized intra-firm. 
Intra-firm is never real financial competition as it is with inter-firm. 
Intra-firm there is more cooperation and little financial competition. 
Inter-firm there is less cooperation and more competition. 

If you think of an entire industry with all its employees before they are 
divided into teams (e.g., distinct companies), you will see that in 
industrial companies during the Industrial Age, there is a certain balance of 
intra-firm organization and inter-firm organization. It was never completely 
a free market organization, because intra-firm is never based on market 
competition, but based more on sharing of a company's assets, information, 
knowledge, finances, etc., (i.e., as a community -- just a smaller community).

The CommCo just rebalances the proportions of intra- and inter-firm 
organization. The CommCo assumes that with software (since it monopolizes 
because of network effects), the efficiency gains of intra-firm organization 
are so huge that it  will be all within one company (one huge intra-firm 
organization). But this may not be true in the end, because there may some 
unforeseen friction that makes the balance smaller. But I have no doubt that 
the balance achieved in the Industrial Age is absolutely wrong and that in 
the Intellectual Age there has to be much, much more intra-firm organization 
(even if not all intra-firm) and much less inter-firm organization.

This is really what all this is about at a macro level -- how much is 
intra-firm and how much is inter-firm, because intra-firm shares resources 
and information like free software implies, and inter-firm does not share 
resources with those outside the firms. 

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