Wednesday, March 12, 2003
We frequently look for use cases when studying communities of knowledge workers. The largest and most successful (IMHO) knowledge network today is the open source community. One of the few major companies to tap into it in a constructive manner is IBM, the rest have different degrees of antipathy towards the community. The tools provided by sites such as Freshmeat provide the framework for very effective collaboration and information sharing. The knowledge captured and shared by the open source community is probably one of the most dynamic and dense public bodies of knowledge available today. The concept of open source and blogs are very similar around the open sharing of ideas and allowing the network (i.e. empowered individuals) to select and propagate useful code or posts. The open source community is probably the largest R&D laboratory in existence today. It is a classic example of simple tools for collaboration providing more value than all the complex tools combined have ever produced. While companies such as RedHat have tapped into this and created successful businesses they have only tapped into a small fraction of the value that the network has produced. Is there an organizing principle here where value can be created. By value we do not necessarily mean financial value but rather new applications that will benefit the community as a whole. Applications that move beyond the creation of Linux and GNU to the mass of users of computers.