In Welsh myth, the goddess Ceridwen owned a great cauldron which would magically produce nourishing food -- when commanded by a spell known only to the goddess. In modern science, Buckminster Fuller gave us the concept of `ephemeralization', technology becoming both more effective and less expensive as the physical resources invested in early designs are replaced by more and more information content. Arthur C. Clarke connected the two by observing that ``Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic''.
To many people, the successes of the open-source community seem like an implausible form of magic. High-quality software materializes ``for free'', which is nice while it lasts but hardly seems sustainable in the real world of competition and scarce resources. What's the catch? Is Ceridwen's cauldron just a conjuring trick? And if not, how does ephemeralization work in this context -- what spell is the goddess speaking?