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Let’s look at a slightly less frivolous example. On Sunday, July 30th, 2006, in response to the news that Blackboard had obtained a patent on certain learning technologies, I created a Wikipedia page entitled History of Virtual Learning Environments . One of the primary motivations was to begin gathering prior art that was relevant to the patent. The text of my entry consisted of exactly one sentence:

This page will chronicle the history of virtual learning environment (VLE) development.

One week later, there were more than 160 edits logged for the page. Almost none of them were mine. In fact, the vast majority of them were by people who each contributed one single entry about projects about which they had personal knowledge. Looking at the page today, it is a highly structured scholarly work with 89 external references and a consistent editorial style, despite the fact that literally hundreds of people have contributed to it. As of this writing, the last edit to it was on October 27, 2007. Yesterday. So it is still under active development by somebody, even though the first author (me) hasn’t touched it in over a year. None of these people were paid to contribute, and there was no formal editorial process or approval structure. And yet, people do continue to invest their time in the document. Some of them may be doing so out of concern over the Blackboard patent (either because they have a direct economic stake in seeing it invalidated or because they have a more idealistic commitment to the principles involved); others may simply be interested in documenting the history of an aspect of their profession and in ensuring that their contribution to it gets recognized. Still others may have no specific interest in the subject matter but may be interested in maintaining the overall editorial quality of Wikipedia. The important point is that, when costs of participation are low enough, any of these motivations may be sufficient to lead to a contribution.

It turns out that this is the key to understanding both Coase and Benkler, both capitalist firms and open source communities.

Friction, intertia, and economics

Despite a reputation for practicing the “dismal science,” Adam Smith and many of his intellectual progeny are fundamentally optimists. You have to be optimistic to believe, as Smith did, that the cumulative effect of individuals pursuing their self-interest in a free market would result in the collective good via the “invisible hand” of the markets. The genius of economist Ronald Coase is that he was able to articulate the force behind this invisible hand—and its limits—in a clear, sensible formula with predictive power. Think of him as the Isaac Newton of economics.

Coase claimed that, in a perfect world, the invisible hand would always prevail. For example, given a farmer and a cattle rancher who both need the same land, the two will always work out a mutually advantageous agreement. One will always offer to compensate the other in return for giving up access to the land such that they both benefit. Importantly, Coase argued that this would be true regardless of who owned the land. In that perfect world, property rights—which many of us have come to understand as a cornerstone of capitalism—are completely superfluous to a properly functioning market. People would trade to mutual benefit without the need for property or companies. Think of this as the economic equivalent of Newton’s First Law of Motion: economic transactions in motion tend to stay in motion.

Questions & Answers

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, The impact of open source software on education. OpenStax CNX. Mar 30, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10431/1.7
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