Tag Archives: opensource

Technology, Economic Growth and Open Government

One of the great things about living in Washington DC is that you often get the chance to hear or meet important people of our time. Tuesday November 18, 2008, Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO talked at an event at the New America Foundation about what’s ahead on technology, economic growth and open government.


It was a pleasure for me to see the CEO of one of the icons of the tech industry. Eric Schmidt was passionate and knowledgeable, although he was not always structured in his way of presenting his points. However, I am still fascinated by the open source approach to technology and information which has been the driving force behind Google’s (and others’) success. And I share his fascination of the fact that lots of people have access to most of the information that is out there. And new technology (such as cell phones) will give even more people access to information – and more information will also be accessible in the coming years. What an opportunity for America –and for the rest of the world.


You can watch Eric Schmidt’s speech here.



Here’s a few of my notes and reflections from the meeting:


  • Communication in every ones hand is powerful. But we do not get it yet.
  • Openness: Anyone can play and that can drive the modern economy
  • That does not only apply to the tech industry, why not do the same with the energy sector?
  • Doesn’t matter how big you are, it is the service you offer that matter (remember the cartoon Nobody knows you are a dog)
  • Google products:
    • Flu Track (Check it, it is fascinating)
    • Book search
    • Future: a Google search can answer questions such as: what should I do this weekend?
  • Google’s Smart Energy Plan
    • Great initiative – for a company that praises innovation might come up with a new perspective.
    • I missed a point on who’s going to make the investment? And is the government the right decision-maker in this case? However, I am not sure the free market is either. Schmidt said we need balance between the market and the government. But how do we move on from here?
    • Not all the ideas are revolutionary such as adopting technologies and practices promoting energy efficiency for buildings, equipment, vehicles etc. But as long as it is not standard it does not matter. Just do it and give the citizens the incentives to invest in better solutions. (The Danish experience is that it works).
  • More public funding to education and research
  • Few political scandals this year
    • Because of “the policing of the internet” where everyone is tracking the truth
  • Better to have people with you than shot them out
  • Governments have not embraced the tools the citizens have such as blogs and YouTube.
  • Amazing that people are spending their free time when they get the chance to be involved.



Do we need a Bill of Rights for the social web?

Living in a time where markets are conversations and wikinomics is the driving force for innovation there seems to be a contradiction between a Bill of Rights and the social web.  
The new world is described by Tapscott and Williams in their book Wikinomics as “what happens when masses of people and firms collaborate openly to drive innovation and growth in their industries” (p. 11). Collaborating is not just about talking about things but about “peer production that will harness human skill, ingenuity, and intelligence” (p. 18). The principles are openness, peering, sharing, and acting globally. The traditional business model is turned up side down – a thing that Google has also proven – by opening the innovation processes to external experts or users. Companies like Linux, IBM, Lego, Procter and Gamble and others have invited users to take part in their innovation doing that the companies have to share some of their business secrets (open source).  
I guess that is what I do on an individual level using LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google. I share a lot of private information but I trust these companies not to do evil things but to make life easier for me. As Rosie the Third has pointed out I believe individuals benefit from sharing personal information on the social web. Do I and the rest of the users of the social web need legal protection from these companies as I as a citizen get protection of the government in a bill of rights like a constitution?  I do not think so. Social media like Facebook and MySpace are regulated by the trust the users donate to them. If they break the trust of the users they will lose their business. On the other hand, the debate about privacy and Google and Joseph Smarr’s “Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web” show that users are concerned. The users are increasingly asking companies to focus on who own personal information, how the personal information is shared, and how persistent access to personal information to trusted external sites.  
The companies who are harnessing “procumers” communities have learned the hard way that there are new rules of engagement (Trapschott and Williams, 2006:147). These new rules are not written in a bill of rights, but they are experiences that companies entering the new business world can use as best practice.  

The Bill of Rights for the Users of the Social Web is a blog and part of an ongoing conversation and I think that is the right place to address the challenges and the privacy of the users of the social web. The conversations are the bill of rights for the users of social web because they include rights or best practices that are important and essential to the users.