The Open Business Creative Commons

By SamuelRose, published at 10 May 2007 - 8:12pm, last updated 10 years 40 weeks ago.

The Open Business Creative Commons describes itself as:

a platform to share and develop innovative Open Business ideas- entrepreneurial ideas which are built around openness, free services and free access. The two main aims of the project are to build an online resource of innovative business models, ideas and tools, and to publish an OpenBusiness Guidebook.

Increasingly, we are seeing the concepts behind "Open Source Software" make their way to into other aspects of human existence, such as Open Design and Open Business models.

A recent Economist article talked about how:

In order to succeed, open-source projects have adopted management practices similar to those of the companies they vie to outdo. The contributors are typically motivated less by altruism than by self-interest. And far from being a wide-open community, projects often contain at their heart a small close-knit group.

I think The Economist Article is referring to the "close-knit heart" as those who would be motivated more by self interest than altruism.

However, Howard Rheingold recently pointed out to me in an email that Steve Weber's book: The Success of Open Source looks at the most common motivators for open source project participation. Howard wrote that those motivators are (in order of popularity):

  1. Learning to code
  2. Gaining a reputation
  3. Scratching an itch
  4. Contributing to the commons
  5. Sticking it to Microsoft

I can translate these motivators to roughly mean:

  1. "Learning to code"= Access to, and sharing of knowledge/education/removing information asymmetries.
  2. "Gaining a reputation"= Trust. Pretty self explanatory. But very important in a system that is open to everyone's particiaption. "Reputation" not only equals status, but also can equal trust.
  3. "Scratching an itch"= Inventing something that meets your own needs
  4. "Contributing to the commons"= actively being altruistic.
  5. "Sticking it to Microsoft"= Not just "revenge", but trying to work towards obsoleting closed systems and replacing them with open systems.

Howard also pointed out that "scratching an itch" in open source software devolpment can be self interest that also contributes to the public good. Indeed, all of the motivations listed above serve this dual role. So, as pointed out to me by Howard, successful Open Source Software projects are "hybrids" of altruism and self-interest.

These same motivations seem to be driving participation in the emerging "Open Business", and "Open Design" paradigms. Sucessful Open Businesses will incorporate Access to, and sharing of knowledge/education. Through this, they will remove information asymmetries. They will incorporate reputation systems and ways to gauge wether you can trust others. They will innovate by way of giving people access to "scratch and itch", and invent tools and systems to meet their needs, that also feed back contributions to the public good. They'll give an outlet for altruism. And, they will give people a systematic way to obsolete closed, centralized, and proprietary business systems with open and decentralized systems.