A quick comment on open, yin and yang
February 13, 2009 § 2 Comments
Just now, I was commenting on my friend Steve’s post on The Yin and Yang of Open. As sometimes happens, the comment grew into a bit of a tome. Or, at least something long enough that I figured I should make it a post instead. So here it is.
Great post, Steve. While I am always waving the flag of open, I am also a big yinyanger. Balance is important.
But, for the most part, I think were already surrounded by enough ‘closed’. Getting to balance is a long way away. So, closed mostly doesn’t need our help.
There are exceptions. Privacy is a big one. We’re losing it quickly. And it’s a pretty critical part of the balance. You need the privacy kind of closed in order to protect most of what we value in freedom and openness.
On the elements of open, I think you mostly have them. The three that I stick to these days are:
1. Transparency: Can you *see* inside something, and understand how it works.
2. Permeability. Can energy / labour / ideas / whatever get in *and* out of the open thing you are talking about.
3. Malleability: Can you shape / remix / make something new. This is similar to Zittrain’s generativity. Or, in layman’s terms, it’s hackability.
… and then iterated and tested by talking to alot of people in alot of ‘what’s open?’ conversations.
A fourth item that may be on the list: permission. As in, you don’t have to ask for it to do something. I am not sure it’s quite the right word. But my colleague Jay suggested it as we were talking about what an open mobile ecosystem would look like. It would be one where you don’t have to ask permission to add new apps, invent new services, and so on. Like the internet.
One small area I disagree: you say ‘openness is not in and of itself a virtue’. Something can be virtuous but, like all things, require moderation and balance. Personally, I see both ‘openness’ and ‘privacy’ as virtues, and don’t see much of a contradiction.
That’s all for this sunny Friday. ‘Hi’ to family and all in Durbanville.
And, to anyone else reading this, happy Friday to you too.