In a speech celebrating NASA's fiftieth anniversary, Google's CEO Eric Schmidt urged NASA to be more collaborative with other agencies and even the general public. He suggested that Google's successes often result from opening up without knowing where the breakthroughs would occur.
While Schmidt acknowledged that government agencies like NASA can't wholly adopt Google's "shift and iterate" model whereby it throws a lot of projects at the wall to see what sticks, it
...can learn from open-software development and projects like Linux and MySQL, where collaboration is necessary. And the agency can learn about the value of flexibility from companies like Google, he said.
"The best way to be lucky is to create more luck," he said. "And the best way to create more luck is to create more at bats."
This sounds liketo me. Foster a huge mass of value and look for ways to present snippets and snapshots of that value (advertising against searches, for example) to people for a fee.
More generally, it's clearly a vote of support for open source and its model of creating more value than any one company can directly monetize. In this way open source makes the world better for many even while helping a few to directly monetize it.