The key values of the Internet flow from the mesh of participants, which Metcalfe’s Law observes as leading to an exponentially growing pool of potential relationships. Complementing that are loosely coupled, open, royalty-free standards, allowing all to participate at the linear-growing cost of connection to the standards rather than the exponentially growing cost of negotiating each relationship.
This exponential-relationship, linear-cost world is termed the “Net Effect” and has been the primary energy source of the Internet revolution from its inception.
The Web resulted from the Net Effect, and today we need a development and deployment methodology that harnesses it. Open source provides the ideal, loosely coupled yet rigorous environment for the massively connected community.
He related the Net Effect to Open Source: “What distinguishes projects like Apache, NetBeans and Linux is less the price tag but rather the eclectic inclusiveness. If a standard is a technology where the community affected by changes controls the changes, then open source will underpin standards in this century….The experience of Sun and others is that open source provides ideal development and business models for today’s Net Effect economy. It’s not about free stuff; it’s about enfranchising every user and development community member. Today’s software innovations need this model more than ever before. With an open foundation, companies can gain their just compensation for their innovations “above the line,” but the subtle lock-in offered by our traditional understanding of “standards” is largely avoided.”