Paul Graham on the deeper business lessons of open source

Doc Searls points to an excellent essay by Paul Graham on What Business Can Learn from Open Source. It’s full of thought-provoking observations. Here’s just one sample:

The third big lesson we can learn from open source and
blogging is that ideas can bubble up from the bottom, instead of
flowing down from the top. Open source and blogging both work
bottom-up: people make what they want, and the the best stuff

Does this sound familiar? It’s the principle of a market economy.
Ironically, though open source and blogs are done for free, those
worlds resemble market economies, while most companies, for all
their talk about the value of free markets, are run internally like
commmunist states.

There are two forces that together steer design: ideas about
what to do next, and the enforcement of quality. In the channel
era, both flowed down from the top. For example, newspaper editors
assigned stories to reporters, then edited what they wrote.

Open source and blogging show us things don’t have to work that
way. Ideas and even the enforcement of quality can flow bottom-up.
And in both cases the results are not merely acceptable, but better.
For example, open source software is more reliable precisely because
it’s open source; anyone can find mistakes.[ Paul Graham]

Well worth your time. I suspect that most large
organizations will have an extraordinarily hard time grasping and
acting on the trends Graham highlights. Those that do manage will have
an edge in attracting talent.