Linux Economic Model or Penguin Power to say NO

Besides being able to control the jukebox and drink yerba mate all day, the thing that I love most about managing the community at Tech Ranch Austin is all the folks who come in the door.  They all have stuff to teach me, even about our own business model.  Lesson #1: always be prepared to let people teach you what they want to teach you.

The Linux Economy
Ask the Penguin why the Open-Source economy will save us all

Yesterday Tom Kane walked in the door, and today I have an e-mail from him with an essay titled Coase’s Penguin (For a TED talk, among others on this topic, click on Tom’s name).  For those of you who don’t know that Linux’s log is a Penguin, it is.  What Linux did to computing was beat Microsoft at their own game (creating an operating system), and it was done by millions of programmers all over the world contributing a bit of programming for free.  These programmers represent 3-4x the computing power of Microsoft.  Another example of how open source dominates previous models is Wikipedia vs. Encarta (Google them to figure out who is the reigning champion).

Here’s the point.  Allowing people all over the globe to volunteer on a project means that the project will receive more hours than a project with a small team of salaried workers.  It means there will be relentless innovation and improvement.  It means that everyone will have access to the same relentlessly improving information.  And it means that this information is free.  I’m not talking about Linux anymore.  I’m talking about a sea-change in our economy.  I’m saying that decentralized individuals are creating more efficient software / hardware than even the giants like Microsoft can.

This is very important when I think about the work we’re doing at Tech Ranch.  Kevin will be able to cite some very specific sources to describe why lowering the barriers to entrepreneurship is so important, in the days to come.  For now, this post serves as a way for me to gather my thoughts on why opening the model of entrepreneurship is so vitally important, especially for my fellow recent-graduates for whom the job market is being unkind.

What I see this meaning to us is nothing short of a re-education of how we are to think about working for the rest of our lives away from a 9 to 5 existence, and into a much more organic work environment of loose, opportunistic coalitions of “freelancers” coming together to take down a project that has an interesting dollar amount associated with it.  The group will form ad-hoc, delegate responsibility, act quickly, and once the objective is completed the group will most likely disband as the individuals go in search of other opportunities.  Seth Godin had it right.  The economy is getting Tribal

This loose organization is very important because it assures individuals that suddenly have the power to do something revolutionary: something that heretofore only the privileged have had the power to do.  This open-source model gives you and I the power to say, No.  No to our boss.  He doesn’t exist anymore.  No to pain-in-the-ass clients.  No to an employer relocating our family.  No to the alarm clock even.  You and I get to say no, because our participation was voluntary to begin with.  The economy is becoming open-source, and there is too much work to go around for any of us to be doing things that we hate.

Liberation say to to the things we hate means the freedom to say YES to the things we love.  Our lives, and the world will be better for it.  Just ask the Penguin.

So do yourself (and the rest of us) a favor.  Ask what you said “NO” to recently.

I hope this helps.

Austin Gunter

I’m Austin. I live in San Francisco, practice Tai Chi, have rheumatoid arthritis, listen to a lot of loud music, and host a lot of dinner parties. Want more? Start here.