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The Comingled Code: Open Source and Economic Development Hardcover – September 24, 2010

2.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"For anyone who thought the open source movement was a passing fancy, this is the book to read. Written by two experts in innovation and patent policy, it presents important evidence on the scope and complexity of how firms and public authorities have embraced open source software. The reader will learn which nations and which types of firms use open source most heavily, and may be surprised at the extent to which open source code is blended with code and products that are kept proprietary. The authors provide a rich foundation for yet another wave of thinking on the subject." Suzanne Scotchmer, University of California, Berkeley, author of Innovation and Incentives

"Having dissected open source in detail and told governments at length what not to do, the authors' prescriptions remain rather vague. "There is no right answer," they say in the final chapter, amusingly called "The Takeaways". It would also have been helpful to examine the implications of the findings for technology sharing in other industries. Open source has moved way beyond software -- into biology, all forms of digital content (Wikipedia, now ten years old, is the most prominent example) and even hardware. "The Comingled Code" is full of insights, but the literature about this important development in recent economic history is still far from complete." The Economist

"How does software impact growth? Should the government favor open source over proprietary software, and how should companies choose between them? How will the comingling between open source and proprietary software evolve? If you are looking for answers to these questions and others related to the software industry, The Comingled Code, written by two giants of software economics and empirical industrial organization, will provide you with an original, rigorous, and yet eminently accessible analysis. Essential for all researchers, students, and practitioners interested in this crucial industry." Jean Tirole, Toulouse School of Economics

"The great challenge in all fields of technology is to design institutions and laws that both provide incentives for innovation and ensure that the fruits of that innovation are widely shared. Often, these goals seem incompatible. In the field of software, the advocates of 'open source' development claim not only to have resolved the tension but to have done so in a way that has myriad collateral economic and social benefits. Are they right? This book brings deep knowledge and careful analysis to bear on that crucial question. The answers it offers deserve close attention from programmers, business leaders, and policy makers everywhere." William Fisher, Wilmer Hale Professor of Intellectual Property Law and director, Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University

"Unlike much of the writing on open source versus proprietary software, this book offers factual evidence, careful analysis, and evenhanded discussion, while avoiding unsupported opinions, hyperbole, and exaggeration. Everyone who is concerned with open source will want to read this book." Hal Varian, Chief Economist at Google

About the Author

Josh Lerner is Jacob H. Schiff Professor of Investment Banking at Harvard Business School, with a joint appointment in the Finance and Entrepreneurial Units. He is the author of The Boulevard of Broken Dreams: Why Public Efforts to Boost Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Have Failed and What to Do About It.

Mark Schankerman is Professor of Economics and Research Associate at the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics and Research Fellow at the Centre for Economic Policy Research in London.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (September 24, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262014637
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262014632
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,143,290 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

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The Comingled Code is a thoroughly researched and documented econometric analysis of the global Open Source market. Having read the book, it's clear to me that it is a well-written and thoughtful academic study, though definitely not geared towards the casual business or technical reader (i.e. it's not an "easy read").

As someone whose company is part of the Open Source community, and who has competed with Microsoft for most of my career, I have no love for the Evil Empire. Yet I saw absolutely no indication that The Comingled Code was anything but what it claimed to be, an objective, fact-based analysis of an important segment of the software industry, "characterized by intellectual independence and analytical rigor."

There have been allegations of a pro-Microsoft bias (due to Microsoft funding of the study as an attempt to promote a "less ideological discussion of the pros and cons of software choices...") by some people who may not have had a chance to read the book. From my perspective, none of the book's conclusions were either surprising or based on anything other than statistically valid data that could be independently analyzed by those who make claims of bias, should they choose to do so. I don't know and have never interacted in any way with the authors (professors at Harvard Business School and the London School of Economics), but I find it it's extremely unlikely that they would risk their careers and professional reputations to slant their conclusions based on any particular funding source.

In fact, I'd call your attention to the top of page 58, which contains the following quote (which I absolutely love!):

"[I]n every release cycle Microsoft always listens to its most ignorant customers.
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Format: Hardcover
According to techrights: "Microsoft had paid Josh Lerner and Mark Schankerman, who in turn produced literature which echoes Microsoft lobbyists and gives those lobbyists something academic to cite later." Dr. Glyn Moody, on computerworlduk, is also very critical of this study. You may want to see the blog article titled "There's No FUD Like an Old FUD."
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