Gartner OSS Summit Roundup - Tapscott Keynote

The opening keynote of the conference was given by Don Tapscott, co-author of the well-known Paradigm Shift and author of many other interesting treatises. In his presentation, he explored and explained what he termed the Participation Age, in which those of us who are privileged enough to have access to globe-spanning communications tools can join together as independent actors in a powerful peer production effort, free of hierarchies and centralized control. He articulated the business benefits of exposing corporate information to take advantage of a peer production effort - the striking example was that of goldcorp, who revealed geosurvey data on a large area of land and offered prizes for those who could pick the strongest locations for gold. They spent $500000 on prizes, and in return were presented with locations that later product $3.5 billion worth of the metal. He spoke of other ‘open source’ efforts - such as SpikeSource for applications, the MIT Open Courseware project and school- and text-book efforts at GlobalText and Wikibooks. He talked about new approaches to traditional business, such as the development of prosumers that consume your goods, but also in turn produce material (extensions to goods, etc) for you. Overall, it was a good enough keynote for the occasion, giving a broad overview of situations in many businesses where ‘open source’ has been of clear advantage and linking the individual successes with an overall trend. No explanation for the trend itself – but I suspect that it could be related to the co-option of the commons by corporate interests, viz. the purposing of the web and internet to the creation of new commons.