I don’t know who first said it, but the idea of an open platform and being an active authority is that by equipping people with the best resources that aren’t your own – by sending them away – you get them back.
This is the premise that most of the digitalls on Twitter follow. They share links all day long, because by being active in their area and telling you where to go, the idea is that you’ll look to them as the authority. Beyond that, there’s a bit play in open innovation with co-creation too.
An Open World
It does, however, go a lot deeper than this. The idea of open platforms is one of open source, of creative commons, of open innovation. This isn’t giving information away in such a context that people can directly see where the source was – like a ReTweet – it’s a place where you are giving people to take your work and use it, and there’s no guarantee people won’t use it for their own gain without attributing you as the source.
It’s one thing sharing someone else’s content and then getting a kick back if someone likes the link. It’s another sharing your own content for free and not knowing what’ll happen with it.
I can tell a story from both sides of this fence. Being honest with you, I’ve been the one who has ripped the work off of others (back in my HTML days), and I’ve also been the one who has been too afraid to share my creations for fear of it being ripped off.
Last Saturday, on our discussion of “Together“, a friend I made in Helsinki, Johanna Kotipelto, made an exceptional statement with regards to people being too afraid to collaborate together. Joanna said, in what I think is a highly quotable phrase, “Sharing is still a threat: it’s like taking a Mona Lisa to an exhibition – unsigned.”
Johanna wrote more about it in her post on Man 2.0 where she examines some of these themes more – it’s well worth a read.
The thing is – do I agree? Do I believe that sharing is a threat?
The Fear is Laziness and Ego
I think the ultimate display of this fear (in the blogging world at least) is when bloggers never link to other blogs but there own (or rarely do it), and keep writing about their experience, their ideas, and never our experience or our ideas.
I consider this fear to actually be laziness and ego. When I read a feed for a few weeks and find they never link out and talk about anyone but themselves, I think that they are too lazy and too self consumed to actually focus on others and curate conversation for others.
This same laziness and ego, in my opinion, is also what stops people from sharing – because you know what – if you talked about what you consider to be your intelectual property enough, you’d be generating so much discussion about it that people would know you’re the source. I’ve started to see, for example, a lot of the ideas that we’ve discussed here talked about on blogs I’ve never heard of and from people I don’t know – but they know where the source is, and the conversation keeps coming back here. (Also, we need to loosen up a little – we often think our ideas are better than they actually are!)
And I think the people on the other side of the fence – who take other people’s work and pawn it off as their own – it’s laziness and ego on their own side, but it says I’m too lazy and too good to work hard and get this myself.
Your Leading Thoughts
- First of all – which side of the fence are you on? Where do you sit on this issue?
- What is the FIRST example that you think of where ‘giving it away’ has caused a win? (Mine currently is Guardian’s Open Platform)