When folk work together, we can achieve far more than we can apart. In Norway, there is a type of event called dugnad in which a group of people work together for some common cause – for example, the folk living in a single building get together to do routine maintenance on all the common areas. The building in which I live does this each Spring; my first spring here, our cellar contained assorted junk to be thrown away, including a huge mass of tiles recovered during the previous winter's renovation of the roof; organizers had hired a skip, to which we all collectively removed the junk. Folk less able to lug heavy objects around tidied up the flower-beds in our back yard and swept up mess. Together, we achieved a great deal in a short time; and doing such things together incidentally brings us closer together, helping us all to develop positive impressions of our neighbours. The social benefits of such co-operation are at least as great as the economic ones – it would have cost a good deal to get some outside workers to do the clearing up. Doing it ourselves also meant that anything that wasn't meant to be taken got noticed by whichever of us knew that it wasn't junk.

Throughout the history of the software industry, good programmers have tended to care most about making good programs and ensuring users can make the most of their computers. Doing so from within the corporations that supplied computers was, for a time, the most effective way of achieving that goal; but the corporate profit-maximisation obsession eventually changed that, because the corporation becomes more concerned with ensuring it squeezes every penny it can out of every user than in actually serving its users. Sure, one must serve the user – or at least appear to – in order to get their custom: but this is merely the means to an end, getting their money, which takes priority over the means. As a result, good programmers have chosen to write programs outside their corporate employment, where doing so achieves better outcomes for users; and programmers collaborate in the development of such programs, sharing the work in order to make better results than any of us could make on our own. Fortunately, that process has worked well enough that even some profit-driven corporations have woken up to the fact that it does deliver better value to the user, so now do support the development of such communally shared software.

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