The Open World Promise
by: Todd Nuckols
Let me be clear that I am pro-open, pro-internet, pro-collaboration, pro-transparency, pro-sharing...anyway, you get the idea. In fact, Jelly days at 804RVA are a fine example of just such openness (or so I have heard and hope to experience soon).
However, in Don Tapscott's TED talk "Four Principles for the open world", one of the shining examples of crowd-sourced intelligence has always (in my limited mind anyway) struck a nerve around open. Don references the Ideagora work of a now famous Canadian mining company. Story goes:
1- Gold mining company is on the verge of bankruptcy
2- They open the data to the world
3- Offer a $500,000 prize to whoever can find the gold
4- Someone 'finds' the gold
5- Company turns the find into 3.5 billion in gold
Wow! A breathtaking example of shared intelligence. Everyone is happy and the world has more gold, right? This is not the only example: Netflix tried to find a better algorithm for movie recommendations, X-Prize Foundation, P&G does it, IBM gives to Linux and the list goes on. Harnessing the power of open. In fact, Facebook's value (a pretty significant value according to the market) is created from user content. So Don is clearly right in stating: "the cat is out of the bag" on this open thing. And frankly, it has been running around for a while now! The only thing that bothers me is who really wins from these collective breakthroughs and all this open sharing?
Well, the winner of the gold mining contest certainly gets a handsome reward. For everyone else who may have shared insights that were built upon, offered time and energy, what happened to them? They got to watch the Canadian company vault to a $10 billion valuation and find $3.5 billion in gold. Makes you feel warm inside doesn't it?
Open is clearly powerful, but it is important to consider as you share freely of your experience and knowledge exactly what motivates you. You may feel the chance to win $500,000 in prize money is well worth the risk that someone else walks away with $3.5 billion. Fair trade, right? In fact, you may contribute to open source code strictly because you need to turn around and use it and that is all the value you need. And if you want to sing the praises of collaboration, transparency, sharing and empowerment (the 4 principles of open) I am happy to sing along!
Just make sure you stop and take a little time to consider the full impact of open! Someone else may get rich on your knowledge or that movement you cared deeply about subverted. Yes, the world is increasingly open and let's hope a careful reflection on what that means will lead to more good open than bad open. You have any good or bad 'open' moments to share?
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