The other day I wrote about how libraries are being forced out of the commons by IP policies.
If you read that, you might consider me a pessimist.
In fact, the last decade has, in the words of former FCC chair Reed Hundt, seen the largest expansion of the commons in our history.
You're looking at it.
Before open source proved itself a winner, this medium was proving that point. Newspapers, journals, or databases that hide behind firewalls are, simply, ignored. (Whatever happened to Paul Krugman? Maybe if we put the picture above on a milk carton...) There are cases where you can benefit from being off-line, if you only want a few to know what you're about and still have the clout to make them know you exist.)
But generally, today, our debates and discussions take place in the commons. You don't have to pay 25 cents for a paper and hope your favorite voice is in there. The world of words is as wide-open as broadcasting, more wide-open, since cable operators and program directors restrict what you can see, and there are no such gatekeepers here.
My kids have grown up in an age where all kinds of knowledge are freely-available. They take it for granted. This is an enormous difference (and improvement) over my own upbringing. Nothing -- neither law nor business model -- can put that genie back in the bottle.
The Internet is the mother of open source, not the other way around. My confidence in open source software is grounded in real history.