While most Internet users are just getting used to Web 2.0, today’s online pioneers are helping Web 3.0 (whatever it might become) begin to take shape. The kind of creativity and innovation they cultivate is exactly what technology, business, and, indeed, the global economy desperately need right now.
Being a pioneer -- a term that for most of history has meant “the guys with the arrows in their backs” -- generally has been risky, scary, and fairly lonely business. That’s because historically it’s been difficult for many people to enter truly new territory all at once.
But given the way the Internet has evolved, it’s now actually easier to scout out some of the most exciting new territory when you’re part of a crowd (or at least a posse). That’s because two (or many) heads aren’t just smarter than one -- they’re also collectively more creative, adventurous, and powerful. Plus, it’s pretty hard to stop a surging creative mob with just a few arrows.
It may sound as if I’m talking about an invasion, but actually I’m talking about creation. Today’s online pioneers are collectively creating new territory, even if they appear to be working “alone” on unrelated projects.
The good news is that creative people don’t start from scratch. They take existing online creations, ideas, or observations and discuss them, expand upon them, combine them, rip them apart, turn them upside-down or inside-out… And that’s how innovation happens. Even projects that don’t seem to “work” aren’t failures, since they’re potential fodder for new creations.
It makes less sense than ever before to put your precious energy into locking down the raw materials of innovation in the name of protection. You’ve got to ask, “What do we really need to protect?”
Many businesses and individual creators use intellectual property law primarily to thwart competitors (real or imagined), rather than to amplify the benefits of innovation. I believe this approach is not just backwards, but truly harmful.
That’s why I embrace Creative Commons licensing: a legal alternative to copyright that lets creators easily mark creative works with the freedoms they want them to carry. Next week, my company plans to publish a series of “business mashups” that anyone can download, remix, and use to combine popular business software packages in more useful and customized ways.
The mashups will be offered free of charge under a Creative Commons license that allows users to freely create and share derivate works, as well as showcase their efforts. With this approach, our online community is collectively much more creative than we could ever be.
Being a control freak is no longer sound business strategy. So try letting people play with and share what you have to offer. They aren’t robotic “users” -- they’re potential collaborators and evangelists. This approach has far greater business, economic, and social value. Plus, it’s much more fun.
— René Bonvanie, Senior VP Worldwide Marketing, Partner Programs, and Online Services, Serena Software Inc.