Ripples in the Pond

The conversion to digital technology means that every work of utility or beauty, every computer program, every piece of music, every piece of visual or literary art, every piece of video, every useful piece of information--train schedule, university curriculum, map, chart--every piece of useful or beautiful information can be distributed to everybody at the same cost that it can be distributed to anybody. For the first time in human history, we face an economy in which the most important goods have zero marginal cost.
As with the printing press, if it's really a revolution, it doesn't take us from Point A to Point B. It takes us from Point A to chaos. The printing press precipitated 200 years of chaos, moving from a world where the Catholic Church was the sort of organizing political force to the Treaty of Westphalia, when we finally knew what the new unit was: the nation state. Now, I'm not predicting 200 years of chaos as a result of this. 50. 50 years in which loosely coordinated groups are going to be given increasingly high leverage, and the more those groups forego traditional institutional imperatives -- like deciding in advance what's going to happen, or the profit motive -- the more leverage they'll get. And institutions are going to come under an increasing degree of pressure, and the more rigidly managed, and the more they rely on information monopolies, the greater the pressure is going to be.
Clay Shirky, 2005

What we're learning at GitHub is that opting in to open source project constraints often results in better natural survivability characteristics for many types of business, product development, and operations activities. That is to say, processes designed to conform to open source constraints results in a project that runs well, attracts attention, and seems to be self perpetuating where the same project structured more traditionally requires much more manual coordination and authoritative prodding. It's important to note that while following open source constraints creates the possibility of cooperation without coordination, it of course doesn't guarantee it.