Before joining ZDNet I wrote a lot about Moore's Law, the idea that things get faster-and-faster faster-and-faster.
I found exponential Moore's Law effects everywhere. Not just in chips, but in magnetic storage, in optical storage, in optical transport, even in radios.
The only place where I didn't find it was in software. But now the folks at SAP Research have.
Specifically, Amit Deshpande and Dirk Riehle (above) find it in open source, in that the amount of open source code available continues to grow at an exponential rate.
Previous research showed linear and quadratic growth in lines of source code of individual open source projects. Our work shows that open source is expanding into new domains and applications at an exponential rate.
This doesn't mean software is getting much easier to write. My personal feeling is this means less of it is being wasted.
In proprietary systems code is often tossed out in great handfuls when someone finds a better way to go. In open source this code is available for re-use, and thus it is re-used.
In proprietary systems the amount of resources available for QA and design are limited by the balance sheet. In open source they're not.
In proprietary systems only trusted insiders are allowed to beta test code before it goes out the door. In the open source world anyone can be a beta tester -- some of the most popular items here involve newly-released beta code.
I will have more to say about this later, as we continue our discussion of open source values. For now we have proof of why open source continues to eat the proprietary world's lunch, and will continue to do so.