In my own efforts to explain the benefits of open/community source, I often end up talking about degrees of path ownership: as an organization (or individual) how much control/ownership do you want to have over the path taken by the technology you use?

Like you say, it’s not some simple binary opposition where an open source path gives one complete control and a proprietary path gives you none. There is a continuum of control and each technology probably starts somewhere along it and even moves along the continuum over time.

There are also other benefits (and drawbacks) to openness that we all continue to discuss.

I like your ideal, but wonder if #3 is maybe the hardest to achieve. As in democracy, community-based decision making is messy, but maybe it’s better than the alternatives ;)

The conversations I find less useful are the ones that center ONLY on functionality. Yes, fast, powerful cars are really fun to drive and a very convenient mode of transport, but were they a good choice given how automobiles have shaped our culture and economy?