The Open Everything Movement

open everything word cloud

I've been thinking about this idea of the move towards what I am calling "Open Everything" that seemed to be rolling forward in 2007. I can't see it slowing down this year.

I suppose "Open Everything" probably has a simple, interpersonal model in the "share-and-share alike" teachings of childhood. And, if you need to write a paper on it, you could also look to Adam Smith and game theory and others (see bottom of post).

It requires freeing yourself in some ways from the idea that one person (or one organization) can manage complex objectives on its own.

The most familiar application of this for technology and learning is the open source software development. It's not far from there to open courseware, video sharing, repositories etc.

What will the concept of "open" mean as more organizations move towards collaborative rather than a competitive models?

Of course, everyone points at YouTube, Wikipedia and Flickr and the other big 2.0 sites when discussing this movement, but we should also include in our discussion efforts such as the Human Genome Project where there was mass collaboration from participants in an online community.

My sons are moving from college to the professional world. They grew up with the Internet an expect so many products and services to be free - software, services, email, storage, file sharing, TV - or very inexpensive or "free" with advertising supporting it. It's not really all new. I grew up with free (and wireless, no cable) TV, free broadcast movies and free music (radio) supported by advertising. But their generation and those to follow are overwhelmed with it.

What will happen when my engineering son works for a company that wants to profit from its products and services that are being shared openly, or is forced to compete with open products? (Blackboard vs. Moodle, Linux vs. Microsoft, NBC vs. YouTube...) What happens when my other son who is the finance major has to work with the profit model he grew up embracing?

An open system has the potential to generate powerful results faster than a more traditional "closed" system. Most of the private industry and educational institutions we grew up with (and work in?) are closed systems.

It's an old argument that these open systems like YouTube and Wikipedia promote "mass mediocrity" and for-profit organizations are rightfully fearful of competition from free products and services.

Did Linux, the open-source operating system, destroy Microsoft? No, though in the server environment, it is doing damage. Is this a bad thing?

I did some searching online for open everything types of phrases and turned up these:

OPEN + ______

source software














source as a service

source licenses

source religion




This concept gets a full treatment in books like Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams. They promote the idea that peering, sharing, and open-source thinking, will lead to "peer innovation" and that is what will change everything.

Since the Internet appeared, people have predicted it would revolutionize schools. I think it has been more evolutionary than revolutionary. The fossil record of education will show the changes, but it won't be fast.

Using YouTube, iTunes U, and OpenCourseWare, you can teach and learn quite a bit. It's not school -no interaction, no mentoring, no diploma to show potential employers - but there is learning.

But all that isn't so new. We've had distance learning, online learning (eLearning, digital learning - take your pick) for longer than the Net. The Sloan Consortium tells us that 3.5 million students are signed up for at least one online course. That's about 20% of all students at degree-granting institutions. Those students are paying. They are paying for the credits/degree, but they can get a lot of the knowledge for free. When will they stop being willing to pay for the paper?

I actually think it will start with graduate studies and work its way down the grades. Am I promoting open education and biting the very tuition hand that helps pay for my salary? Yes, but only because it's going to happen in any case - and probably after I retire!

There's still a place for tuition courses, enterprise software and services, lectures, testing, gasoline engines and water from a tap. But it's not as big of a place, and it won't be as profitable.

I used to remind my students, "When the mother ship lands, know who your friends are." They didn't really think I was serious. I was. I am. Be ready. The truth is out there.

A bit more explanation...

Adam Smith believed that the division of labor would cause a great increase in production. An example he used was the making of pins. One worker could probably make only 20 pins per day. But if ten people divided up the eighteen steps required to make a pin, they could make a combined amount of 48,000 pins in one day.

Game theory, though primarily applied to economics, has been used to explain many other things, such as philosophy. Think ethics and Thomas Hobbes and deriving morality from self-interest. Look at games like the Prisoner's Dilemma which address the apparent conflict between morality and self-interest. Cooperation is required in your strategy.


Trackback specific URI for this entry


Display comments as Linear | Threaded

No comments

Add Comment

Enclosing asterisks marks text as bold (*word*), underscore are made via _word_.
Standard emoticons like :-) and ;-) are converted to images.
BBCode format allowed
E-Mail addresses will not be displayed and will only be used for E-Mail notifications.
To leave a comment you must approve it via e-mail, which will be sent to your address after submission.