Chapter 2: A Blueprint for Crowdsourcing

The author suggests that in the earliest years of home computing, all code was open-source. Computer programmers regularly shared their work with others, and there was no thought of anyone owning or selling software. "Code" was merely a sequence of commands in a common language, and putting these commands in a given sequence wasn't considered to be anything resembling intellectual property.

For a time, things took a turn for the worse: software become proprietary. Companies sought to safeguard their information systems, while others sought to copyright and sell their programs and sue anyone who used their code, or even who developed anything remotely similar. This was, by many accounts, a severe setback to the programming community, as it made being an amateur or hobbyist virtually illegal ad branded as "hacker" anyone who was not employed by a software firm. Thus considered, "open source" software is simply a return to the origins: people who figure out the right sequence of commands to make a computer do certain tasks share what they have discovered with others, who expand and improve upon their solutions.

(EN: There follows a rather long and overly detail account of open-source software initiatives. The irony of needing a lengthy and elaborate license agreement to prevent anyone from claiming ownership of the software. The value of having thousands of people to hunt for bugs and inefficiencies.)

Another stray observation: creative people inspire one another. There are instances in which one person accidentally discovers something that they ignore because they were working on another problem - but someone else recognizes the overlooked potential of their mistake.

There then follows another random, lengthy, and over-detailed case history - this time of Wikipedia. It was originally conceived to be a free online encyclopedia, written by scholars. When they recognized that was not feasible, the next consideration was to allow anyone to write, but have an editorial board of credentialed moderators - but even that would be costly. So eventually, they let go of the notion of having control, and just let anyone write or edit content on the site. The result of that has become the largest and most popular content destination on the Internet, which is considered to be accurate and reliable because a large cadre of self-appointed moderators have been generally effective at monitoring the content to rectify errors and repel vandals.

There follows another verbose and overly detailed anecdote that largely suggests that open source could be a solution to the problem of patents -by letting the world at large review patent applications, rather than reserving the task to a small number of overworked government employees, it should be feasible to see the work done more efficiently - particularly because anyone with an existing patent would be motivated to ensure that no-one else was granted a patent for the same thing.