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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Open ICT and Inconvenient Truths

I just saw the movie "An Inconvenient Truth", and it got me to thinking about the intersection between my work on open technologies and global warming. Don't see the connection? Neither did I until tonight.

First of all, GO SEE THIS MOVIE. Regardless of your politics -- better yet, suspend your politics -- and actively watch this film. If you walk out not convinced that we are in the midst of a global crisis, a REAL crisis, you are either deaf, dumb and blind, or you sadly fall into the category of people described by Upton Sinclair and quoted by Al Gore in the movie:

"It's difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

So, the connection between global warming and open technologies?

That same thought -- the difficulty in people seeing things differently when their jobs, up until that point, depended on the status quo -- applies to IT companies (and governments) and open technologies. Open source is an obvious example. Or Creative Commons as a new approach to copyright. Or software as a service (the expertise of other Jeff Kaplan). Or new ways of sharing music and photos (before Napster, now BitTorrent). It's the same quandery for Microsoft and the Opendocument Format.

Here's an inconvenient truth for the IT industry: successful business models will more and more integrate (even depend upon) greater, deeper collaboration with users, customers, non-staff content creators and even competitors (e.g., in context of creating open standards).

More and more, you have to collaborate to compete.


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