Let’s look at two situations:
A presenter, when asked if said she would make the program slides available to the meeting attendees said no offering this reason – this is my professional work and I will not give away my thoughts and insight.
Eric Raymond, wrote about the open source software model (he was instrumental in its development and expansion) and a confederation of volunteers wrote Apache – the program backbone of the internet – and he published it and distributed the book for free via the internet. (ten years later, ESR published it as a traditional book for sale).
Before the internet, information was metered out in dribs and drabs – a great sales technique – and it was considered a valuable ‘gift’ from the company contact. In contrast today, there is an incredible collection of articles, slides, white papers, videos, and other original materials available without restriction on the internet.
Something interesting has evolved from this ‘free’ availability of information.
The concern that if I give away the process or problem solutions, no one will buy help from me – and for some, reading a process on the internet is sufficient and they will use the information to craft their solution – no help needed, thanks!
Others will review the process but will seek out the originator for help to effect a solution to their situation – the resources may not be available internally or lack depth to be effective in developing modifications. Often, after implementing the original solution, a different problem is revealed which needs attention – who do you think will come to mind to address the new problem?
Chris Andersen decodes this internet model of providing value for free in the book Free: How Today’s Smartest Businesses Profit by Giving Something for Nothing – give away something of value to win long-term customers.
As providers or consumers we are wrestling with a new value model – and are finding there are a number of new dimensions to the model. One thing seems plain, however; restricting access to knowledge is like swimming against the current – a lot of work and very little progress.
A definition – value is something that costs me little, but you can’t buy it for any price – this really helps to put the topic into clear perspective.