In this paper I explain that while free software is highly visible, it is in fact only one example of a much broader social-economic phenomenon. I suggest that we are seeing is the broad and deep emergence of a new, third mode of production in the digitally networked environment. I call this mode “commons-based peer-production,” to distinguish it from the property- and contract-based models of firms and markets. Its central characteristic is that groups of individuals successfully collaborate on large-scale projects following a diverse cluster of motivational drives and social signals, rather than either market prices or managerial commands.
The article concludes that “this mode has systematic advantages over markets and managerial hierarchies when the object of production is information or culture” which is precisely my business. The Happy at Work Project is organized around 4 principles one of which is open source, and this is a wonderful validation of something I’ve instinctively believed in for a long time.