Friday, December 10, 2004

The Internet as an Innovation Commons

The Internet is often referred to as an innovation commons. Does it function as an innovation commons? Why or why not?


Blogger Dianna A. said...

I believe the Internet is a fabulous source of raw material for new ideas or potential solutions to problems (similar to the ideas or comments of musicians posted earlier); however, I have a hard time seeing it as a critical component of developing and refining complex ideas or solutions.

The more powerful or complex the dream, idea, or solution, the less likely I am to want to share it, tweak it, or expose it over the Internet. The only exception would be a group such as this where I felt there were clear rules regarding use of information and verification of who the participants and viewers of the information might be. Even then, I would be reluctant to share my developing dreams and ideas to a group of people I have not met face to face. I need the personal contact for that. In fact, I find it difficult to participate in this dialogue without a similar face-to-face meeting happening at various points along the way!

To me, the ideal way to use the Internet is as a bridge to begin the process (find participants), continue the dialogue, and build relationships. However the all-important TRUST necessary for truly sharing and opening myself to really HEAR and RESPECT the suggestions of others is best served by in person (or phone if that is impossible) contact in the beginning and at other key times in the process.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Paul Schumann said...

The Use of MBTI in Online Facilitation

Nancy White, the moderator of the Online Facilitation Forum, posted this item:

Author: Tony Di Petta
Date: 1988

I indirectly found this article this morning while reading about an online facilitate challenge in a private community. Tony was mentioned so I googled and found this article. It seems to be another way in to the archetype issue without using the sort of labels like Gahran did in her piece.

Digging down, it is about finding ways to understand each other enough to have successful communications or do things together. We generalize as a way of making sense, but in the labels we use generate end up creating more misunderstanding. Quite the opposite of the intent, I suppose. Finding ways to "hear" the other person without being triggered by their style or language choice is a key goal in an online facilitation practice. Di Petta points out one really key part of the practice: knowing your own style/self first.

The article on this site is an abridged version of a paper published in
Cranton, P. (ed.) (1998). Psychological Type in Action. Sneedville, TN:
Psychological Type Press.


This paper examines the use of psychological type as a group process "tool" for moderators of on-line discussion groups. In February of 1997, The Personal Effectiveness through Type (PET) Inventory ®, was provided as an on-line tool to ten computer conference moderators working for the Education Network of Ontario (ENO). The ENO is a Canadian telecommunications service that provides internet access and computer conferencing services to the kindergarten through secondary school education community, in the province of Ontario.

Ten ENO conference moderators volunteered to use the P.E.T. inventory to determine their personal type "preferences", that is, their most ingrained and frequently used strategies and methods for making sense of, and interacting with, the world around them. The volunteers then participated in an on-line discussion forum that focussed on how their newly acquired type awareness might be used in their professional work as on-line conference moderators. The discussions about type and its use in facilitating on-line discussion groups led to a set of recommendations and suggestions for using type data to facilitate the on-line leadership and interaction efforts of computer conference moderators.

"One of the greatest concerns of the on-line moderators who considered
using type theory in their work was that type should not be used to "label" people, that is, to limit or judge others, or to suggest what they can and cannot do well. Type information can and should, however, be used to identify the kind of moderator leadership that is required by specific on-line situations and groups. Knowing what is needed in terms of leadership helps moderators plan or adapt strategy to help individuals or on-line groups meet their goals. By understanding their own preferences, moderators reduce the chances of letting those preferences dictate how to work on-line or relate to other members in the on-line group. "

Nancy White - Full Circle Associates - - 206-517-4754,

Claire Brooks posted this comment:

"Digging down, it is about finding ways to understand each other enough to have successful communications or do things together. We generalize as a way of making sense, but in the labels we use generate end up creating more misunderstanding. Quite the opposite of the intent, I suppose. Finding ways to "hear" the other person without being triggered by their style or language choice is a key goal in an online facilitation practice. DiPetta points out one really key part of the practice: knowing your own style/self first."

This discussion of type reminded me of when I first came across *Choconancy* in an online group space, later taken over by yahoo groups, I think. When joining up participants were invited to fill out a *type* quiz that returned a description of how people of that type would make pumpkin soup. It was light hearted and gave an insight into oneself and at the same time served as a reminder that other people would approach the same task completely differently. I still use version of the technique, depending on the type of online group. For example in formal learning situations it can be useful to people to complete a learning preferences quiz, and that can also be a way for some safe self disclosure to take place. In other groups it might be a modified MBTI quiz (, or simply a fun thing from tickle

In Gahan's article it is possible that the sci fi clash was an interaction between someone who valued rationality above feelings a T rather than an F in MBTI terms, and being able to *label* differences in that way can be helpful. ( Still doesn't deal with all the issues tho' because this approach assumes that everyone has a reasonably good intent and unfortunately that is not always the case , so I am still looking forward to the next instalment on dealing with Trolls)..{aside} is that a barb? am I really a porcupine?:-). A big difference is that these activities are about self labelling....maybe there needs to be a quiz that allows people to reveal their self perceived tendencies towards to conflict, control, power relationships and other sensitive topics even if it is only for personal consumption/self awareness.
Claire ( ~sort of INFP/INTP)

To visit your group on the web, go to:

8:35 AM  
Blogger Paul Schumann said...

Flattener # 4: Open Sourcing – Self-Organizing Collaborative Communities
From The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman

For anyone interested in the concept of an innovation commons, The World is Flat is a must read. Here are a few quotes from this section of the book:

“…I discovered it was an amazing universe of its own, with communities of online, come as you are volunteers who share their insights with one another and then offer it to the public for nothing. They do it because they want something the market doesn’t offer them; they do it for the psychic buzz that comes from creating a collective product that can beat something produced by giants like Microsoft or IBM, and – even more important – to earn the respect of their intellectual peers. Indeed, these guys and gals are one of the most interesting and controversial new forms of collaboration that have been facilitated by the flat world and are flattening it even more.” p83

Quoting Bellendorf who was talking about the development of Apache: “We had a software project, but the coordination and direction were an emergent behavior based on whoever showed up and wanted to write code.” p 88

Concurrent Versions System used to keep track of the software and its revisions. p88

Still quoting Bellendorf, “We started with eight people who really trusted each other, and as new people showed up at the discussion forum and offered patch files posted to the discussion forum, we would gain trust in others, and that eight grew to over one thousand.” p88

“The Apache collaborators did not set out to make free software. They set out to solve a common problem – web serving – and found that collaborating for free was the best way to assemble the best brains for the job that needed to be doe.” p90

Quoting Swainson about the involvement of IBM in the project: “The Apache people were not interested in payment of cash. Thye wanted contribution to the base.” p90

Quoting Irving Wladawsky-Berger from IBM: “This emerging era is characterized by the collaborative innovation of many people working in gifted communities, just as innovation in the industrial era was characterized by individual genius.” p 93

“The striking thing about the intellectual commons form of open sourcing is how quickly it has morphed into other spheres and spawned other self organizing collaborative communities, which are flattening hierarchies in their areas.” p93

Talking about an open commons: “These bloggers have created their own online commons, with no barriers to entry. That open commons often has many rumors and wild allegations swirling in it. Because no one is in charge, standards of practice vary wildly, and some are downright irresponsible. But, because no one is in charge, information flows with total freedom.” p 93-94

“If everyone contributes his or her intellectual capital for free, where will the resources for new innovation come from?” p96

“How do you push innovation forward if everyone is working for free and giving away their work?” p 100

“Open source is an important flattener because it makes available for free many tools, from software to encyclopedias, that millions of people around the world would have to buy in order to use, and because open source network associations – with their open borders and come as you are approach – can challenge hierarchical structures with a horizontal model of innovation that is clearly working in a number of areas…This movement is not going away. Indeed, it may just be getting started – with a huge, growing appetite that could apply to many industries. As The Economist mused (June 10, 2004), ‘some zealots even argue that the open source approach represents a new post-capitalist model of production.’

That may prove true. But if it does, then we have some huge global governance issues to sort out over who owns what and how individuals and companies will profit form their creations.” p 102-103


3:14 PM  
Blogger Paul Schumann said...

Inventing the Innovation Commons

"The Internet is both the result of and the enabling infrastructure for new ways of organizing collective action via communication technology. This new social contract enables the creation and maintenance of public goods, a commons for knowledge resources."

"Before the word "hacker" was misappropriated to describe people who break into computer systems, the term was coined (in the early 1960s) to describe people who create computer systems. The first people to call themselves hackers were loyal to an informal social contract called "the hacker ethic." As Steven Levy described it, this ethic include these principles:

 Access to computers should be unlimited and total.
 Always yield to the Hands-On Imperative
 All information should be free.
 Mistrust authority - promote decentralization."

Howard Rheingold
Smart Mobs
Basic Books, 2002

12:24 PM  

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