Archive for April, 2006

IP in an Open Source Society; who is paying who?

Friday, April 21st, 2006

Kebede Mergia asks me the question, who is paying who in the Open Source society?

Unfortunately it’s impossible for me to answer this open question in the length it deserves, but I can point to a few resources on which I build my own understanding of the topic.

Intellectualy property and the societal concept of Open Source.

To understand the societal implications of Open Source, you need to understand the difference of Free Software and Open Source.

Free Software, the concept put forward by Richard Stallman long before the term Open Source was invented, tackles the freedom aspect. This is well documented in the book by Mr. Stallman, entitled “Free as in Freedom”, available online.

To understand intellectual property, there is probably no better source to turn into other than Lawrence Lessig. In the roots of the philosophy of Free Software there is the requirement to understand the importance of free culture, how it’s preserved and how it develops further based on earlier generations. IP can be an enabling or disabling factor depending of how it’s used. This is further examined in Lawrence Lessig’s book, “Free Culture”, available online.

While Free Software is about freedom, Open Source is about practical use value of the source code and the shared production model. It was also invented to satisfy as a term the business use of free software, as FS until 1998 was politically very colorful, almost like a religion and as such not very suitable for business types. The practical use value and the birth of Open Source is well documented in the book by Eric S. Raymond, “Cathedral and the Bazaar”, available online.

The financial flows, in other words, who pays who.

Yochai Benkler coined the term commons-based peer production, which examines the economics behind Open Source development model. He analyses this concept in his paper, “Coase’s Penguin and the Nature of the Firm”, available online. This concept is furter investigated in his book, “Wealth of Networks”, also available online.

He gives much credit to Ronald Coase, who invented the transaction costs theory. For anyone who wants to understand the transaction costs in any business, should look in the work done by Ronald Coase, further improved by Oliver Williamson.

The absolutely central thing to understand here is that production logic of the industrial era is changing from centralized (central IP control, centralized production, controlled distribution, few developers) to decentralized (decentralized production, distributed costs, lots of developers, IP in the commons). The driver here is that as you benefit from the commons, you are likely to contribute something back to the commons. This is enabled by the licensing, which often requires that you give the next person the same rights you received in the first hand. It’s a gift economy but driven by economical benefits. It supports free markets by creating an open market, rather than a closed market. Bruce Perens, the author of Open Source Definition has also written about the economics of Open Source.


Graham Attwell wrote a follow up, correctly underlining that Open Source and Open Content is not only driven by capitalism alone, but other values are at stake as well.  Preserving and improving culture has never been driven by sheer value propositions alone. We all have dreams, stories, ideas, conversations and joys to share, and that’s what we are doing with openness in heart.

Integrating human and the machine

Wednesday, April 19th, 2006

On tuesday I was at Media Lab, University of Art and Design Helsinki (UIAH) giving a presentation entitled “Social Software – Integrating Human and the Machine” on a course run by my friend Teemu Leinonen. It’s a very beginner friendly introduction to concepts around the changes that are driving the human in the machine. So if you are very deeply into Web 2.0 and social software, then there might not be much new for you but for the rest it’s quite accessible, although my friend Gerrit Visser told me he thinks it’s also useful for people who have their hands deep into this stuff.

I recorded the audio of my talk. It’s quite long and the best stuff starts around the middle. I added the lenghty discussion about mobile services related to social software in its own podcast, as the audio quality is not very good compared to the presentation itself.

Presentation audio [MP3, 71min, 32.7MB]

Presentation slides [PDF, 879kt]

Discussion [MP3, 32min, 14.8MB]

UPDATE: Blog of the “New media and learning workshop” course is online, available here. They are working on mobile social software. 

New school book paradigm

Sunday, April 9th, 2006

In really hard decisions like what dentist to use and who should we trust, in the end we seek for the subjective opinion of our trusted friends rather than objective speculations of strangers. Through conversations we discover common ground on which we can live in the uncertain world.

In my latest article at FLOSSE Posse I seek for the answer to what is truth in the world we live in. Even though the human kind has been out there looking for the truth as long as the man has been walking on the earth, uncertainity is rising all around us. We need a new school book paradigm to help our students to really cope with this uncertainity.

Use blogs to make yourself viral offline

Sunday, April 9th, 2006

Phew, I’m back in english after a brief finnish conference blogging spree. Sometimes I wonder if I need a finnish blog for cases where it’s more appropriate and doesn’t turn off my english readers (hope you are still there icon smile Use blogs to make yourself viral offline )… Well, I just doubt I would have the energy to do both. Better one good blog than two average.

Idea of today comes from one of my favorite bloggers, Hugh Mcleod. Very often his posts make no sense (like this one), but periodically he sprouts gems that you can’t miss. Here is one about being viral:

…the better your blog, the less qualified I have to be in order to recommend you. The easier and less socially risky it is for me to spread your story. Because all I have to do is give the guy your link, and hopefully your blog does the rest.

Exactly. Blogs increase likelihood that people who read or know you will recommend you to their offline peers. Also, they are more likely to end up doing business with you if you have a good blog. It’s simple: following a hyperlink and connecting with the ideas presented there lower the transaction costs involved in getting to know you. A mere business card, email address or phone number often goes unused if there is no context provided that connects with the needs of the one who is wondering if the contact is really worthwhile or not.

After reading a blog you are also better off in making the first contact, as you know already something about the person’s underlying interests and worldview.

As Hugh points out, if someone asks you if you know anyone who is good in HR but you are not really that much into HR, it’s socially less risky to just point to a HR blogger, rather than giving the contact information of some HR person you know but hardly interact with.

We could also look this from the problem solving point of view: even if I don’t know any HR people or HR blogs personally, I can quickly use my blog searching skills and trusted online contacts to come up with a list of influential HR bloggers based on what others say about them. In the end:

  • I can say “yes I think I know where to find one” instead of “no I don’t know”
  • From learning point of view what I know is not only internal but also distributed externally
  • I get a solution to the problem with minimal effort
  • I gain social capital as my friend will own me a favor

Web 2.0 slaidini ja oppiminen verkostoituneena prosessina

Saturday, April 8th, 2006

“Power corrupts and Powerpoint corrupts absolutely”

- Internetin isä, Vinton G. Cerf

Muutamat ovat kyselleet torstaina ITK-päivillä Web 2.0 keynote-paneelin alussa esittämiäni slaideja. Tässä ne ovat:

Minne olemme menossa – Web 2.0 ja sosiaalinen media muutoksen tekijänä – Teemu Arinan esitysmateriaali (PDF)

YLE Teema-tapahtuma haastatteli minua myös 7.5 esitettävään ohjelmaansa, joka tulee YLE Teemalta. Kuten paneelissakin, pyrin tuomaan esiin blogeihin liittyen näkökulmia oppimiseen, organisaatioiden viestintään ja demokratiaan.

Demokratiassa ei ole enää tänä päivänä kyse pelkästä äänioikeudesta, vaan myös äänestä. Tähän asti portinvartijat ovat pitäneet huolen siitä, että vain harvat ja valitut saavat äänensä kuuluviin julkisen päätöksenteon keskellä. Blogien avulla nyt kenellä tahansa voi olla ääni, joka kuuluu kauas.

Vaikutusvaltaiset bloggaajat ovat sosiaalisia filttereitä monille lukijoilleen ja kollegoilleen: pohjalla on kyse samasta luottamuksesta, kuin mitä meillä on omiin ystäviimme ja heidän arvostelukykyynsä.

Kun valitset hammaslääkäriä, soitat todennäköisemmin ystävällesi ja kysyt neuvoa, sen sijaan että selaat hammaslääkärien lehti-ilmoituksia. Henkilökohtaiset suhteet ovat merkittävin päätöksenteon väline. Media hakee objektiivisuutta, siinä missä yksilöt hakevat luotetuilta ystäviltään subjektiivisia kokemukseen perustuvia näkemyksiä. Molemmille on sijansa uudessa keskustelevammassa yhteiskunnassa. Mielenkiintoista on, että ensimmäistä kertaa meillä on kunnolla kyky laajentaa luotetut suhteemme globaalille tasolle, jossa jokainen voi käyttää omasta näkökulmastaan sosiaalisina filttereinä parhaaksi kokemiaan ajattelijoita.

Sanotaan, että kokemus on kaiken oppimisen isä. Koska emme voi kokea kaikkea, hajautamme sen mitä tiedämme luotettujen suhteidemme kautta verkostolle muiden kokemuksia. Oppiminen ei ole tällöin enää päänsisäinen asia, vaan verkottunut prosessi, aina osana sosiaalista kontekstia. Kun omat alylliset rajamme tulevat vastaan, voimme ylittää ne hyödyntämällä tehokkaammin sosiaalisia verkostojamme. Siksi on tärkeää, että opimme hyödyntämään sosiaalisen webin mahdollisuuksia tapana laajentaa ongelmanratkaisukykyjämme. Meidän pitää rakentaa oppimisen kyborgeja, jotka tiedostavat tajuntansa olevan tietoverkkojen kautta globaali, eikä vain lokaali.

Itse uskon, että sosiaaliset filtterit ja luottamusverkostot ovat uusi Google, kun kyse on helmien etsimisestä lopputtoman informaation suosta. Siksi kehoitankin oman alansa asiantuntijoita pystyttämään asiantuntijablogeja. Niiden merkitys kotimaisen henkisen ja sosiaalisen pääoman kehittämisessä globaalilla tasolla on merkittävä. Toivoisinkin tätä näkökulmaa korostettavan julkisessa blogikeskustelussa kansalaisjournalisten ja päiväkirjamaisten blogien sijaan.

Bonuslinkki: jammailua aamuyöstä ITK-konferenssissa (10MB, Xvid/AVI) icon wink Web 2.0 slaidini ja oppiminen verkostoituneena prosessina