Conveying innovation with less energy
Innovation is often observed when more stuff is produced from less resources. Incentives to invest in innovation are mostly to save money so that money can work on another part of the pipeline or process. One extraordinary pathway to get there is to start from something else -- to scratch another person's back instead of starting from scratch. In some fields, starting from existing work is easy and not cumbersome while in a sizable number of situations, it is hardly the case. In the software industry, source codes are the basic unit of stuff you can build upon or share with other peers. On one end, one can argue that there are public domain products, whose blueprints are not protected by anything whatsoever. That kind of creative process can be appealing because nothing restricts the flow of intellectual property and therefore the exchange rate is very high. However, because there is simply no copy protection, authors will not often select this course of actions. In the middle, free/libre software provides a similar flexibility to the public domain while requiring, for example, that enhancements be pushed back upstream. And obviously, there are proprietary software. Their recipe for building them is secretive. But real ecosystem processes, like the evolution of species, are more akin to the open source software development process than to proprietary software creation -- or is it ? Probably not. Perhaps open systems are evolving faster, however. Then, does evolving faster makes for a better world, in the end ? If these objects fight for the same market, then evolving faster is better if the said market changes regularly its landscape. Now, let's go back to information flow speed. One of the real reasons why open source is so successful as a development model is that it does not require binary compatibility for anything since the source exists and is easily retrievable. Because of this simple, yet crucial, property, the parts composing a software system can change incrementally instead of having the whole thing breaks at every major operating system upgrade.