Thursday, 16 May 2013

Being Open and the Open Web

Well, currently I am enrolled in Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence (Coursera) and Teachtheweb through Mozilla, plus being a member of several communities so I am feeling a little s t r e t c h e d. Both physically and mentally, so the power outage last night that shut the computer off and sent me to bed early was probably a good thing.

Synchronicity often happens in our lives and right now in the multiple groups I belong to we are discussing what is openness and what is the open web, so I thought I would throw in a few ideas into the pot.

Teachtheweb is about making content for the web and sharing that content. Funny how my mind works because I started thinking of Western history. Once upon a time, we were all makers. We had to grow, harvest, hunt, butcher, spin, weave, pot, bake, make our own ale, make our own tools, collect our own water, start a fire, etc. We went to bed when it was dark and rose when it was light. And we had to share with our community to survive. As our communities got larger, we began to specialize into guilds and start to communicate within and with other communities through verbal messengers and written messages. Society was no longer based on strictly face to face communication with those you knew intimately. Our standard of living began to increase the more we interacted with our groups and societies, as we traded ideas and discoveries, but we also began to consume more and make less. As the industrial revolution occurred, our making became further removed from the larger community. How many of us could or would be willing to do any of the tasks listed above? How many of us grow, harvest, collect water, spin or weave? Instead of a society of mainly makers we've became a society of mainly consumers. People who make or do physical tasks today are called "tradesmen" or "factory workers" and are often derided within Western society. Perhaps that's why we've sent those jobs to other countries.

What Teachtheweb is attempting to do is return us to the time when we consciously made things of value for the community, except that it is made digitally. This is a paradigm shift in our thinking, from consuming the web to creating the web. The web no longer just the purview of Silicon Valley but open to all. Are we all of the same skill level? No, but that is okay. Making the rounds right now is a stop action movie created by Kindergarten students. The teacher has asked us to remix it and share. And we are. So what is our community now? It is anyone who has access to the Internet, the tools to create content and the willingness to share their knowledge. Does that mean everyone? No it does not. Access, tools and sharing are the prerequisites of this community. So this is not yet a global movement. But it will be. So in twenty or thirty years we will be working in a fully networked world.

Ah but then comes the dreaded word...copyright. Think Creative Commons everyone. It is no use sharing our work if others can't use it. Why create if you're not willing to share your ideas? As so many have said, openness is a state of mind. It is about being willing to share, to collaborate, to be willing to look at a different perspective, to remix, reuse and recycle. To be willing to say, "I don't know, does someone else?" or "Take this idea and make it better." Being human means we're programmed to share and grow together. We're hardwired to be a group, but also to be kind to each other. So be open and think about what you can do to help spread access, tools and a sharing mentality on the web, globally. That's why you're on the web, isn't it?