> I'll confess that the whole "free software movement" has sometimes given me
> the willies, but of course, that's probably just my "class consciousness"
> talking. On the other hand, I don't see anything at all inconsistent with
> the basic workings of an anarcho-capitalist net economy in the creation of
> "surplus value" that gets "given away". The image of "NanoSantas" is
> probably intended to be a little absurd, because, ultimately there has to be
> some incentive to create new value. But I DO see a lot of "free" value being
> created on the net . . . .
The idea that free software is being "given away" only makes sense coming from the initial point of view that it was ownable/owned in the first place. That point of view is not at all fundamental to capitalism. In fact I believe that copyrights and patents are based on the mistaken Marxist labor theory of value.
In a post-nano world, it is true that much of what is valuable will be information: designs, software, art. But that doesn't mean the economy will resemble the "information economy" we have now, which is in large part due to the ownability of information. Technology will make copyrights and patents irrelevant even if the laws stay as they are, so industries that rely on that model are doomed. The future economy--even one mostly of information goods--will be more like a service economy. Information itself has minimal value, and will not be sold directly: what will be most valuable are services that find, select, condense, adapt, and deliver the information in useful ways; services that create custom and timely information; craftsmen that can perfect raw designs; critics that sell the value of human judgment; and of course all manner of personal services. A robust economy with sufficient freedom to create and adapt to new techonologies is in no danger at all from the social "movement" of free software, even if many of its current believers are socialists.
-- Lee Daniel Crocker <email@example.com> <http://www.piclab.com/lcrocker.html> "All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past, are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC