Friday, March 04, 2005

What If: What If Everyone Really Started Sharing Their Intellectual Property?

Share ---1% this year, 2% next year, 5% by 2010.... Looking for new business models.

In my last posting, I talked about the challenges for the information industry in maintaining and gaining mindshare. Information is money. But what if all the providers started sharing---slowly but surely. My thought is that if more quality information was provided, then both the business world and the social world would be enriched. New business models would emerge. Consider the recent past--Netscape, Microsoft, Google, the Open Source movement. Yes, it's a mixed bag, but let's seriously consider the case for sharing. The business advantages of the recent past seem to come with presence and scale. Presence in the marketing place and popular culture as well. Scale---more eyeballs, more investors, more customers. Win/win works best, certainly much better than win/lose. Right now we have a lot of lose/lose or BIG WIN/BIG LOSS. So what would all this look like. Let's start with the past and present examples and go from there. I'll start and invite you to share as well. Some topics to consider. I'm going to talk about the scholarly world first and then move on to the larger world of information in everyday life--for health, work, education, entertainment:

  • How about a shared academic vocabulary maintained by interested parties working together? Maybe OCLC, the Library of Congress, IFLA, DSpace, ARL, ALA, ACRL, standards groups, etc. Apologies to those outside this acronym jungle. These are non-profits for the most part, professional associations, or other stakeholders. We have so much already. It needs to be web-ready now and very flexible for future transformations of technologies. I'm no expert here, but there are many. We'd all benefit from the basic structure, the domain specificity, and the sharing itself. What a great way to educate grad students. What a way to invite the young and life-long learners to get into new worlds of knowledge.
  • Think globally. Work with mutiple languages, internation expertise, cultural differences, cultural richness.
  • Provide quality content through public, school, and community networks. Take a small subset of scientific, health, and technical info and make it available for free through Google, Yahoo, etc. with guidelines for information professionals/librarians to increase the use of these materials and lead to sales. We're already doing this in some ways. Let's be more co-operative and systematic.
  • Co-ordinate research on user profile/user behavior and needs and also market evaluation with colleges, universities, libraries, library consortia, other non-profits and other for-profit organizations. There are such similar goals across these groups.
  • Promote literacy and education in both formal and informal ways.
  • Think about social responsibility as good for business as well as good for people.
  • Test new models. If they don't work, try something else.
  • Build bridges between for-profit and non-profit. Aren't we wasting time in working at cross purposes without considering other options?
  • Fight defensiveness. Get cozy with Open Source and new ways to protect intellectual property rights. Again I'm no expert here, but my guess is that we could all benefit if we didn't spend out time fighting with each other. Share and multiply the wealth in people and property.

Let me stop here for now. So much more to consider. Please let me hear from you here or in my email.

Time is Money or Is that Information?

Time is Money--Or Is That Information?
This week while I've been out working hard at my teaching/marketing job at Drexel and learning a lot about the information industry and also the impact of blogs on the industry--both pro and con, I haven't been writing my own blog. In one powerful presentation by the Information Today people, I learned that InfoToday (Medford,NJ) is cultivting blogging as a new form of serious publishing.
What does this development mean in the battle for intellectual property and mindshare? MINDSHARE was the theme of this years NFAIS annual meeting.
The stuggle for mindshare is also a struggle for direction in a new landscape of potential. None of us know what the shape of the society much less the information market will be in the future. We can be the shapers of this new world, so what values do we want to preserve? Discard? Introduce?
In a competitive environment, what about those who can not read? Who do not get enough to eat? Who have never seen a computer? What about the global digital divide? Literacy? Poverty? Healthcare?
How do we invest our money? Our energies? Our time?