How to get ahead with open source
The basic name of the game in capitalism is control of capitalism. The basic name of the game in feudalism is the control of land. The unit of control in feudalism is the state, while the unit of control in capitalism is the person (natural person or corporation). So the state attempts to control land while the person attempts to control capital. As societies progress, these units and goals do not go away. So in capitalist societies, we still have states which control land, but this becomes less important than it did for a feudal society. I.e. capitalist societies are probably less likely to go to war to annex land than their feudal counterparts. States still require land, but expansion and control are less important goals than they were in the past.
Similarly, corporations and individuals in the new economy will still require capital just as states still require land. However the control of capital of the market as we know it today will be lower priority. Expansion will still be important but may take on a different tone. For example, today, the United States is not interested in exanding its borders, but the expansion has taken on a new dimension where the sphere of influence both culturally and militarily are the current replacements for annexing land.
Today, the state exists primarily as a support mechanism for the economy and personal wealth (including corporate wealth), and to provide basic services such as emergency response, law enforcement, etc. These roles will of course remain unchanged.
However, corporations will become support mechanisms for the communities. Today we already see this with major successful open source projects, such as PostgreSQL, Mozilla, Linux, and Apache. Such corporations provide support, further development, and other services for the other members of the community. This is not that different from the current situation where corporations offer services for support of social communities today, except that the community is actually the entity which engineers the goods. Thus actual control over the market must be foregone in favor of control over the direction of development.
How to get ahead:
When controlling the direction of development, a company can attempt to expand the services they offer to existing customers, cut their costs, etc. To understand how this is done, lets look at the structure of the community (as applicable to old economy as new economy thinking).
The community exists as a collection of persons (including corporations) with a single person or small group in the center. Mere users exist on the fringes of the community (think of users being the perimiter of a circle with the core group or person in the middle). The various service providers exist in relation to others within the circle. Service providers which rely on a vendor's services or products exist between the users and those who they rely on.
In this framework, influence is defined by the arc length around the perimeter which exists in the shadow or influence of the entity.
Another way to look at this is to imagine a somewhat conical hill, with the core at the top, and the users encircling the hill. The other suppliers forming a chain between them. These conceptualizations only provide a way of looking at a single moment in the community and neither the circle nor hill metaphores are static.
Gaining influence requres offering services which build a sub-community around one's services. These can include support, feature development, etc. The object of the game is to influence as many users in the community by getting them to use your features. Such influence leads to demand. Demand leads to revenue. The more influence one can have, in general, the more demand there will be for one's services.
What is different about this new economy is that one has the opportunity to influence the development of products to maximize one's revenues in ways which simply are not possible with proprietary products.