I recently listened to Wikinomics by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams. It’s five years old at this point, which for the topic makes it ancient. It shows its age primarily in its focus on MySpace over Facebook, but it is still a very interesting book and completely relevant. One of the most interesting things I took away from it is how people and companies are leveraging the internet to engage people all over the world in collective problem solving. The authors tell the story of a gold mine in Canada that released all their proprietary geological data online to get help locating the best places to drill for gold. People worldwide freely gave of their time and expertise on the hope that their suggestions on where and how to drill would yield gold and win them a cash prize. And it worked!
Where did they get such a ground-breaking (pun intended) idea? From Linux, or more generally open source communities. The authors also talk about how open source was embraced by IBM and brought that company back to the forefront. I used to think of open source only in the context of software. This book really opened my eyes to how it could be applied more generally. And then as a Christmas gift I got a Kiva giftcard. It introduced me to the concept of micro-financing, which is where a whole bunch of people give a little bit of money as a loan. Eventually all the investors get paid back and then can loan it to someone else. It’s the perfect gift for someone who has it all.
It gets me thinking how my company could benefit from opening its boundaries. But would they? I have my doubts. How open-minded is your company about open-source?