Butterflies All The Way Down

When I saw this a few minutes ago as I trolled through my daily folder, I thought of an email I got yesterday titled “turtles all the way down” that referred to an article yesterday on TechDirt titled What If The Very Theory That Underlies Why We Need Patents Is Wrong?  The article discusses a new paper out by my MIT advisor Eric von Hippel and his Harvard Business School colleague Carliss Y. Baldwin titled Modeling a Paradigm Shift: From Producer Innovation to User and Open Collaborative Innovation.

I expect this to be a key paper cited in the ongoing debate about software patents (and patents in general).  Anyone in the software industry will quickly understand this paper and the massive shift we’ve seen from a “producer innovation model” to a “open single user and open collaborative initiative model” of innovation. 

In the mean time, here are the butterflies.

See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

What do you think this is?  I’ll give you a hint – the little white line in the left corner is a scale that represents 5,000 km.