In Thrall to Scarcity

(open source, or whatever you want to call it): the economics of it, like anything else, are rooted in scarcity, and if you don’t have a bit of that scarcity yourself, you have a lot less leverage

.. Market economies work via the exchange of scarce goods and services. If you have nothing to trade, you have nothing. Now, free software is worth something. Worth a great deal – that is beyond the shadow of a doubt. But since anyone can make a copy, there is no scarcity – once it’s out there, you can’t trade for it.

.. If you’re writing free code that will simply become a cog in their proprietary system, the actual money comes from the scarcity they have created, so while you may be writing free software, in one sense, you’re simply offloading the burden of creating scarcity to someone else, who is then able to pay you for your time. The other possibility is that your client works in the “real world” of scarcity directly – they sell books or beer or cars or something else where the product is, by its nature inherently scarse.

.. to make money at something in the long run, you are going to have to find and sell a product that people cannot effortlessly get for free.