Reactionary Progress – Amateur Scholars and Open Source – Future Imperfetct by David Friedman
TESI: L’OPEN SOURCE SEGNERA’ UN RITORNO DEL DILETTANTE. MA SARA’ UN RITORNO AL PASSATO
SPLENDITI DILETTANTI… LA STORIA NE E’ PIENA
Malthus and Darwin were clergymen, Mendel a monk, Smith a mining engineer, Hutton a gentleman farmer, Mill a clerk and writer, Ricardo a retired stock market prodigy. Of the names I have listed, only Newton was a university professor
SPLENDITI DILETTANTI… LA STORIA NE E’ PIENA
In the twentieth century, on the other hand, most of the major figures in all branches of scholarship have been professional academics.
XX SECOLO: L’AVVENTO DEL PROFESSIONISMO…
Why did things change? One possible answer is the enormous increase in knowledge. When fields were new, most scholars did not need access to vast libraries.
MA PERCHÈ UNA SIMILE DINAMICA? IPOTESI: LA CONOSCENZA ESPLODE.…..
The Web, while not a complete substitute for a library, makes enormous amounts of information readily available
CON IL WEB LA CONOSCENZA È DISPONIBILE PER TUTTI. IL RITORNO DEL DILETTANTE E’ PIU’ CHE PROBABILE. …
An alternative explanation… downward spread of education. In the eighteenth century, someone sufficiently well educated to invent a new science was likely to be a member of the upper class, and hence had a good chance of not needing to work for a living.
ALTRA IPOTESI: MOLTI, NELL’800, NON AVEVANO BISOGNO DI LAVORARE E POTEVANO DEDICARSI ALLA RICERCA. NEL XX SECOLO LE COSE CAMBIANO
most educated people today are rich – rich enough to make a tolerable living and still have time and effort left to devote to their hobbies.
OGGI, NELL’ERA DELL’ABBONDANZA, IL BISOGNO DI LAVORARE TORNA A DIMINUIRE PER MOLTI APPARTENENTI ALLA CLASSE AGIATA… IL
These arguments suggest that, having shifted from a world of amateur scholars to a world of professionals, we may now be shifting back.
RITORNO DEL DILETTANTE NEL XXI SECOLO…
Two examples: Robin Hanson… His hobby was inventing institutions. His ideas – in particular an ingenious proposal to design markets to generate information – were sufficiently novel and well thought out to make corresponding with him more interesting than corresponding with most of my fellow economists.
Esempio 2. One of my hobbies for the past thirty years has been cooking from very early cookbooks… When I started… There were no translations of early cookbooks in print and very few in libraries… The situation has changed enormously over the past thirty years… the biggest change is that there are now at least seven English translations of early cookbooks on the Web, freely available to anyone interested… Most of the translations were done by amateurs for the fun of it.
The professionals, on average, know much more than the amateurs do, but there are a lot more amateurs and some of them know quite a lot.
LA SITUAZIONE ORA
amateurs have access not only to information but to each other, as well as to any professional
ACCESSO ALLA CONOSCENZA MA ANCHE ALLE PERSONE
OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE
rising incomes and improved communication technology make it easier to produce things for fun.
CREARE PER DIVERTIMENTO
The best-known example is Linux… graduate student named Linus Torvalds.
IL SIGNOR LINUS
The mechanics of open source are simple. Someone comes up with a first version of the software. He publishes the source code. Other people interested in the program modify it – which they are able to do because they have the source code – and send their modifications to him. Modifications that he accepts go into the code base,
LA MECCANICA OPEN SOURCE: TUTTI DENTRO.
Eric Raymond: open source has its own set of norms and property right… Linus Torvalds owns Linux. Eric Raymond owns Fetchmail. A committee mittee owns Apache… anyone is free to modify… provided that he makes the source code to his modified version public… each can take advantage of improvements made by the others.
REGOLE OPEN SOURCE
such ownership is controlled by rules similar to the common law rules. Torvalds: If he loses interest he can transfer ownership to someone else.
VI RICORDA QUALCOSA? MA SÌ… LA COMMON LAW
There is a second form of ownership in open source – credit for your work. Each project is accompanied by a file identifying the authors.
RICONOSCENZA E REPUTAZIONE: IL MOTORE DELL’OPEN SOURCE
open source movement is simply a new variation on the system under which most of modern science was created. ated. Programmers create software; scholars create ideas.
L’OPEN SOURCE C’È DA SEMPRE. CHIEDERE AGLI STORICI DELLA SCIENZA.
Scientific theories do not have owners in quite the sense that open source projects do, but at any given time in most fields there is considerable able agreement as to what the orthodox body of theory is.
CHI È IL PROPIETARIO DI UNA CERTA TEORIA SCIENTIFICA?
JIMMY WALES’S IMPOSSIBLE SUCCESS
Few projects seem less suited to the open source approach than writing an encyclopedia. For it to be a success readers must rely on it, so a mistake in one article casts doubt on others…. In 2001, Jimmy Wales created Wikipedia
OPEN SOURCE E ENCICLOPEDIE
With rare exceptions, any article can be edited anytime by anyone.
OPEN SOURCE RADICALE
More often than one might expect, the article evolves to a consensus, a statement of differing views that both sides can agree on.
IL CONSENSO… EMERGE
MERCATO E GERARCHIA
firms themselves are miniature socialist states… There is one crucial difference between Microsoft and Stalin’s Russia. Microsoft’s interactions with the rest of us are voluntary.
COSA DIFFERENZIA UN’IMPRESA DA UNO STATO? NON IL SOCIALISMO. C’È MOLTO SOCIALISMO ANCHE NELLE IMPRESE
The easier it is for a dispersed group of individuals to coordinate their activities, ities, the larger we would expect the role of decentralized coordination, market rather than hierarchy, in the overall mix… the existence of the Internet had shifted the balance between center and periphery.
IL VANTAGGIO DELLA COOPERAZIONE VOLONTARIA: IL DECENTRAMENTO
Eli Lilly had decided to subcontract part of its chemical research to the world at large… according to a story in the Wall Street Journal, they had gotten “about 1,000 scientists from India, China, and elsewhere in the world”
DECENTRARE LA RICERCA IN UN MONDO DALLA CONOSCENZA DISPERSA
Consider a chemist hired to work in an area related to one of the problems on the list. He has an obvious temptation to slant… A chemist paid by firm A while working for firm B
IL PROBLEMA DEL DECENTRAMENTO: IL LAVORO OCCULTO
LA GUERRA DELL’INFORMAZIONE NELL’ERA DELL’INFORMAZIONE
Internet supports decentralized forms of cooperation. It supports decentralized forms of conflict as well.
INTERNET: IL REGNO DEL DECENTRAMENTO. TUTTI DICONO LA LORO. MICROCONFLITTI OVUNQUE
Case 1: The Tale of the Four Little Pigs… The year is 1995, the place Cornell University. Four freshmen have compiled piled a collection of misogynist jokes entitled “75 Reasons Why Women (Bitches) Should Not Have Freedom of Speech” and sent copies to their friends…. The central question is whether creating such a list and using email to transmit it is an offense that ought to be punished or a protected exercise of free speech… La preside punisce… the students have offered to do the following: Each of them will attend the “Sex at 7:00” program… the students have offered to do the following: Each of them will attend the “Sex at 7:00” program… Each of them has committed to perform 50 hours of community service…. There are at least two ways to interpret that outcome. One is that Ms. Krause is telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth – Cornell imposed no penalty on the students, they imposed an entirely voluntary penalty. … The alternative interpretation starts with the observation that university sity administrators have a lot of ways of making life difficult for students…. Risultato: They publicly maintained their commitment to free speech while covertly punishing students for what they said…. Someone who preferred the second interpretation thought up a novel way of supporting it. An email went out: Now that we have had time to evaluate the media response, I think we can congratulate ourselves on a strategy that was not only successful cessful in defusing the scandal, but has actually ally enhanced the reputation of the university as a sanctuary for those who believe that “free speech”… Yours sincerely Barbara L. Krause…… The letter was not, of course, actually written by Barbara Krause… It was written, and sent, by an anonymous group calling themselves OFFAL – Online Freedom Fighters Anarchist Liberation. The letter was a satire… Their summary: We believe that ridicule is a more powerful ful weapon than bombs or death threats. And we believe that the Internet is the most powerful ful system ever invented for channeling grassroots root… The correct point was that Cornell’s actions could plausibly be interpreted preted as hypocritical – attacking free speech while pretending to support it…. What I find interesting about the incident is that it demonstrates a form of information warfare made practical by the nature of the net – very low transaction costs, anonymity, no face-to-face contact.
TIPICO INCIDENTE DELLA NOSTRA EPOCA: SILENZIARE IN NOME DELLA LIBERTÀ DI ESPRESSIONE?
Some years ago on a Usenet group, I read the following message: I believe that it is okay to have sex before marriage unlike some people… Please write me and give me your thoughts on this. You can also tell me about some of your ways to excite a woman because I have not yet found the right man to satisfy me…….It occurred to me that what I was observing might be a commercial variant of the OFFAL tactic….that form of information warfare has been used frequently enough online to have acquired its own nickname: “Joe job.”
DISTRICARSI CON IL FAKE. LA NUOVA VIRTU’. CHI NON LA POSSIEDE PENSA AL PROIBIZIONISMO
UNA STORIA TRISTE: FURTO D’IDENTITA’
For my present purposes what is interesting is not which side was guilty but the fact that either side could have been, and the problems that fact raises for the world that they were, and we will be, living in.
FURTO D’IDENTITÀ. TIZIO FINISCE NEI GUAI PERCHÈ QUALCUNO ACCEDE ALLA SUA MAIL
solution is some way of knowing who sent what message…. One possible solution is the use of biometrics, identification linked to physical characteristics such as fingerprints or retinal patterns.
COME RIMEDIARE A GUAI DEL GENERE? LA FIRMA DIGITALE RISOLVE IL PROBLEMA
OPEN SOURCE E CRIMINI DIGITALI
online private investigator who, from the buyer’s cell phone number, was able to get his real name and landline phone number. Attempts to interest the Chicago police department, the FBI, and the Secret Service were unsuccessful… “not large enough to interest us”…
FREGATO SU EBAY REAGISCE. NEL MONDO DIGITALE L‘AUTODIFESA GUADAGNA PUNTI. IN MERITO VEDI ANCHE LA SORTE DELL’AZIONE PENALE NELLA SOCIETÀ TRASPARENTE