If penguins could fly

In 1937, British economist Ronald Coase published “The Nature of the Firm” which outlined why companies exist and what limits their growth. It was and still is so important because it provided a clean answer to when firms are categorically more efficient than markets. Sixty five years later in 2002, Yale economist Yochai Benkler wrote “Coase’s Penguin” which noted that the web enables a new decentralized sort of firm, one that can be more efficient than traditional firms or markets at creating open projects like Wikipedia or Linux.

Benkler used the penguin in part because it was Linux’s mascot, but also because the waddling, flightless bird was representative of the mess and chaos he saw in decentralized organizations, even the ones that could compete with traditional firms.

Now, those penguins are learning to fly. New tools such as those in web3 are giving online communities superpowers, and I’m especially interested in how this will all loop back on my favorite decentralized community - academic scientists.


People

Joey DeBruin
Neuroscientist turned product builder - I care most about the small but powerful overlap of decentralized communities and public goods.