The Open Web

Written By: Paul /”the soaring/” Siegel

“It’s grim, the most grim it’s been since I’ve been around the

This is David Geffen, the famous music mogul, talking about the
music business today.

Why is it so bad? Many reasons are offered, but to me, the most
important is the response of the music industry to the Web. They
didn’t like Napster that enabled music lovers to swap files.
Instead of trying to find out more about the Web, they did what
came naturally: they sued. They did not realize and still do
not realize that anytime they get rid of a Napster 10 or more
clones will pop up to replace it.

A slew of companies is working on what is euphemistically called
“digital rights management”. They want to limit access to information
products – books, software, music – to an extent greater than
could have been done before the advent of the Internet. They
want to prevent file sharing. They want to reduce “fair use.”
Web consumers will not put up with this.

These companies believe that keeping things closed – boxed, copyrighted,
encrypted – will give them a competitive advantage. They are
using competitive thinking: Me against you. I win, you lose.
Don’t get in my way or you will be destroyed. Win markets by
capturing customers.

This is old-fashioned thinking. The Web has changed our lives
drastically. The Web encourages sharing. It encourages working
together. It encourages cooperation. It encourages openness.

The Web is an open medium. Here are 4 examples of openness:

1 – OPEN SOURCE – Linus Torvalds wrote a nucleus for an operating
system and gave away the original code (source code) for free.
He invited programmers to use, adapt, distribute, or improve
it, all for free. Pretty soon, thousands of programmers all over
the world were working together for free to produce an excellent
LINUX operating system. LINUX now competes with Microsoft’s closed
(copyrighted) operating system. In addition to LINUX, you can
find a long list of free software at the GNU PROJECT (http://www.gnu.org).

2 – OPEN DIRECTORY – There is one directory that is different
from all the others. Originally, it was called YOOHOO, a variation
from YAHOO! Anybody may enter his website in this directory for
no fee. Several volunteers, each knowledgeable in a different
subject, edit entries and do the indexing. The directory is now
called DMOZ or the Open Directory Project (http://www.dmoz.com).

3 – OPEN CONTENT – Recently I came upon another type of open,
cooperative project: an encyclopedia called Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.com).
According to those running the project a “Wiki is a collection
of interlinked pages each of which can be visited and edited
by anyone.” At this site, any one can visit, learn, enter a new
article, or edit what he or she sees on a page discussing a subject
they are knowledgeable about. The content of the entire Wikipedia
is open to all and may be modified by all. As time goes on it
will reflect the knowledge of our society.

4 – OPEN NETWORK – I was completely taken aback when I read
Simon Garfinkel’s article, The Internet Amenity, in the March
2002 issue of Technology Review. He visited Boston University
and discovered that he could get a FREE wireless connection to
the Web from his laptop. Evidently there are several universities
that offer an “IP tone” – a connection and a temporary address.
According to Garfinkel it is very cheap to do this. He speculates
that eventually the “IP tone” will be available everywhere, thus
providing open networks.

It seems natural to take our marketing philosophy that is based
on years of successful experience with old media, and transfer
it to the new medium of the Web. But new media require new approaches.
The old, closed, competitive thinking no longer works as well
as it did. If they continue to follow their cut-throat approach
to competitors, the big record companies stand a good chance
of disappearing altogether.

The Web is designed for sharing. The Web invites you to cooperate.
The Web makes it easy for you to work together with others. The
Web is open. If you want to be successful, base both your website
and your business on a philosophy of openness.

About the Author

Paul -the soarING- Siegel is a provocative Internet speaker and
author of HELPFULNESS MARKETNG, a book stressing learning, cooperation
and community. Learn about it at http://www.learningfountain.com/.
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