Simon Phipps of Sun wrote today not only to complain about what we called a "scarecrow" argument but to explain what he really meant.
"It was a version of Benkler's argument, that as we align our individual motivations we are able to collectively achieve what only 'the firm
form' was able to achieve before," he writes. A better summation of the talk is to be found here, he says. (Update: Phipps writes he has blogged his talk as well.)
The real money quote, according to Phipps: "It's all just there, and you build your solution for your business with what's just there. You pay for the software at the point of deployment." Support can be that payment method.
Benkler, who teaches at Yale Law School, made this argument most cogently in his new book The Wealth of Networks. His book describes the Internet as creating "commons-based production," arguing for more open spectrum, a larger commons, and more decentralization as the keys to economic growth in the Internet Age.
Benkler draws an attractive analogy in one chapter, explained here by Jack Balkin:
Reds are hereditary storytellers who have the duty and the privilege to tell stories to the rest of the population. Blues elect a new storyteller every night by majority vote, and this person tells stories before the whole community. Finally, in the Green community, people tell stories to each other all the time whenever they feel like it.
The Green world is the one Benkler favors, and which Phipps endorses. This world sounds like a cacophony, but it's mediated by everyone's choices on whom they will listen to.
This is the nature of the new economy, as Gary Sauer-Thompson writes at Philosophy.Com, "The removal of the physical constraints on effective information production has made human creativity and the economics of information itself the core structuring facts in the new networked information economy."
This is a major conceptual shift, Sauer-Thompson adds, and I agree. The key to growth is how you enable networked information flows, buildng the future rather than harping on the past.
Sounds like my argument. If it's Phipps' as well, then I owe him more than an apology. Would he accept an "atta-boy?"