This technical engineering dimension is not the only one we should use to compare the proprietary and open models. There is an independent social dimension, where the metrics assess the interactions between people. Does it increase trust? Does it increase the importance that people attach to a reputation for integrity?
It is along this social dimension that open source unambiguously dominates the proprietary model. Moreover, at a time when trust and truth are in retreat, the social dimension is the one that matters. […]
Membership in an open source community is like membership in the community of science. There is a straightforward process for finding a true answer to any question. People disagree in public conversations. They must explain clearly and listen to those who response with equal clarity. Members of the community pay more attention to those who have been right in the past, and to those who enhance their reputation for integrity by admitting in public when they are wrong. They shun those who mislead. There is no court of final appeal. The only recourse is to the facts.
It’s a messy process but it works, the only one in all of human history that ever has. No other has ever achieved consensus at scale without recourse to coercion.
In science, anyone can experiment. In open source, anyone can access the facts of the code. Linus Torvalds may supervise a hierarchy that decides what goes into the Linux kernel, but anyone can see what’s there. Because the communities of science and open source accept facts as the ultimate source of truth and use the same public system for resolving disagreements about the facts, they foster the same norms of trust grounded in individual integrity.