Free software is part of a broader phenomenon, which is a shift toward recognizing the value of shared work. Historically, shared stuff had a very bad name. The reputation was that people always abused shared things, and in the physical world, something that is shared and abused becomes worthless. In the digital world, I think we have the inverse effect, where something that is shared can become more valuable than something that is closely held, as long as it is both shared and contributed to by everybody who is sharing in it.