Monday, September 26, 2005

FT on Openess and Collaboration

Financial Times issued (September 20 2005) its first special report in a new Digital Business series. Very enthusiastic content! (for some time it will be in free access). There are wonderful articles with examples I was waiting for - of what kind of activity can host the system I'm trying to describe.

Some quotations:

1. “How open source gave power to the people” By Richard Waters:

The sedentary art of software development and the extreme sports of kitesurfing, sailplaning and canyoning would appear to have little in common.
However, both are examples of a new force that could eventually affect a far broader range of companies and industries: the power of users to shape how products are developed.
In the internet age, it seems, the next big idea to change your industry may come from an unexpected direction.
As related by Eric von Hippell (Democratizing Innovation. Eric von Hippell, The MIT Press), professor of management and innovation at the Sloan School of Management at MIT, followers of extreme sports have become expert at adapting and refining the equipment they use. Sometimes, the way these informal communities work can look very similar to the way open source software developers create their elaborate products.

Kitesurfers, for instance – who stand on surf boards holding kites which whisk them over breaking waves, producing acrobatic leaps and twists – have taken to using sophisticated computer modelling software to design the most efficient kites. They then share their ideas over the internet, refining their concepts before sending them to a manufacturer.
Sophisticated tools that let individuals take part in the process of creation, the internet as a means to draw together communities of like-minded people, a willingness to share ideas for the common good – these are the basic ingredients of a new approach to innovation.

End of quotation 1.

2. “The march of the web-enabled amateurs” by Lawrence Lessig:

“There are tens of thousands of projects built through the collaboration of millions around the world – blogs, free software, newsgroups helping people do everything from knitting to using Microsoft products – and the phenomenon is just starting. Open collaboration was once just a dream. The net has made it a reality”.

On wikis:
“Grand collaborative projects carried out by volunteers have been made possible by ‘wikis’...
In 2001, a former Chicago futures trader, Jimmy Wales, started a similar “open source” project. In a request posted on the world wide web, Mr Wales asked for volunteers to help write a web-based encyclopedia.
Using “wiki” software, in which anyone can add to, or change, what anyone else had written, people from across the world started “writing” what would be called “Wikipedia.”
Thousands soon joined the project. Four years later, there are more than 2.3m articles within Wikipedia, about one-third of which are in English and the rest in more than 100 other languages”.

Not on wikis
“Nasa has recruited “clickworkers” to map craters on Mars, and soon, asteroids, after finding the work of volunteers was better – and much cheaper – than the work of paid professionals”.

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