Open is dead.
That’s the conclusion I came to at a recent meeting of people gathered to talk about how to advance the Open Data agenda.
Open isn’t dead as a movement, it’s dead as a term that can be used to excite people, get them to rally around a cause, show up at an event, put themselves on the line for something.
Open Gov. Open Cities. Open Data. Open Source. All of these things are worthwhile things to pursue. All of the terms are tired and ineffective in advancing any agendas.
You’re never going to sell the wider world on the idea of Open. Other than the (relatively) small number of geeks who have already embraced it, people in general don’t care about Open. Politicians will never come out en masse for Open. Housewives (and house husbands) will never wake up thinking about Open.
Why? Because Open doesn’t seem to solve any of their immediate problems. It’s abstract. Fuzzy. It’s got a We Are The World feeling to it, but (like the song) there’s nothing concrete beneath that fuzziness.
If I’m a politician, why should I be in favor of Open Gov? If I’m a corporation, why should I be in favor of Open Data? That’s not clear. Certainly not by just hearing the name.
Okay, sure, Open Whatever sounds great if we’re talking about YOUR stuff being open. I love it when your stuff is open. (Free stuff!) But if we’re talking about MY stuff being open, what exactly is the value in that to me? I give away my stuff to… my competitors? My enemies? How does that work? What do I get out of that?
That’s what the term Open fails to explain, and what it HAS to explain if people who like Open are going to move it to the next level.
And the thing is, openness is not the end goal of Open. Open is a means to an end. It’s a means to a better, leaner, more reciprocal, more win-win ecosystem. And EVERYONE understands those terms. Even house husbands. So why are we stuck on this term Open, which doesn’t pack the full punch it needs to? It’s time to bury the term Open and move beyond it to more meaningful, value-apparent terms. It’s time to get rid of the Old Open and talk about the New Open. Shared. Mutual. Reciprocal. Symbiotic. Win-win. Those are terms and ideas that people understand and that have value to them.
And they’re the terms that people (like me) who think things should be more Open should be using.