I saw Chris Dixon’s tweetstorm about open & closed systems over the weekend and meant to write something quickly about it —but forgot to write — then was reminded by this nice piece by Ev.
WARNING! This is a super nerdy piece. Technology, tech history, trends. But you already knew that, particularly since I put the word “pendula” right there in the title. ☺
TL;DR: Nothing is inevitable. Open technologies often pervade the world, but closed networks nearly always dominate over time with distribution power. Until the Next Big Thing comes along. That Next Big Thing nearly always surprises people, because it looks like such a toy. Until it doesn’t.
But there’s nothing inevitable about open winning, I think. Technology systems become more open or more closed over time because people make choices and make them that way, mostly in their own self interest (writ large or small), but not always.