Dan Hunter and I have a paper coming out in the Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal, which economic and technical innovation is increasingly based on developments that don’t rely on economic incentive or public provision. The main examples, obvious enough for readers here, include open source software, blogs and associated technical and social innovations, and wikis. Abstract and links to SSRN over the fold.
Paper is at SSRN (not paywalled, I hope)
In the economy of the 21st century, economic and technical innovation is increasingly based on developments that don’t rely on economic incentive or public provision. Unlike 20th century innovation, the most important developments in innovation have been driven not by research funded by governments or developed by corporations but by the collaborative interactions of individuals. In most cases, this modality of innovation has not been motivated by economic concerns or the prospect of profit. This raises the possibility of a world in which some of the sectors of the economy particularly the ones dealing with innovation and creativity are driven by social interactions of various kinds, rather than by profit-oriented investment. This article examines the development of this amateur modality of creative production, and explains how it came to exist. It then deals with why this modality is different from and potentially inconsistent with the typical modalities of production that are at the heart of modern views of innovation policy. It provides a number of policy prescriptions that should be used by governments to recognize the significance of amateur innovation, and to further the development of amateur productivity.