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Homesteading the Noosphere

by Eric S. Raymond

April 1998


After observing a contradiction between the `official' ideology defined by open-source licenses and the actual behavior of hackers, we examine the actual customs which regulate the ownership and control of open-source software. We discover that they imply an underlying theory of property rights homologous to the Lockean theory of land tenure. We relate that to an analysis of the hacker culture as a `gift culture' in which participants compete for prestige by giving time, energy, and creativity away. We then examine the implications of this analysis for conflict resolution in the culture, and develop some prescriptive implications.

1. An Introductory Contradiction

2. The Varieties of Hacker Ideology

3. Promiscuous Theory, Puritan Practice

4. Ownership and Open Source

5. Locke and Land Title

6. The Hacker Culture as Gift Economy

7. The Joy of Hacking

8. The Many Faces of Reputation

9. Ownership Rights and Reputation Incentives

10. The Problem of Ego

11. The Value of Humility

12. Global Implications of the Reputation-Game Model

13. Noospheric Property and the Ethology of Territory

14. Causes of Conflict

15. Project Structures and Ownership

16. Conflict and Conflict Resolution

17. Acculturation Mechanisms and the Link to Academia

18. Conclusion: From Custom to Customary Law

19. Questions for Further Research

20. Bibliography, Notes, and Acknowledgements

21. Version history

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