Working Transparently

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Working Transparently:
[Via Gurteen Knowledge-Log]
By David Gurteen

I am including almost all of the post bt David Gurteen for a reason. It brings together in one post the ideas espoused by several other people. So, I quote David, who quotes John who quotes Michael. Every step in the transfer of information is stated and linked, providing the very openness and transparency discussed in the post. David then brings in his personal experience and ands another wrapper with the article on Science 2.0.

All of this to weave his view on openness into the other views. I hope my small addition provides some more insight into the need for openness and transparency for Science 2.0 aproaches to be useful.

I wrote a Gurteen Perspectives article for Inside Knowledge Magazine recently titled Open and transparent? where I talked about the concept and need for openness and transparency in the way we work today. So I have been delighted to see others say similar things:

In this post KM 2.0 is about showing your workings out by John Tropea, John quotes from Michael Idinopulos:

“The real paradigm shift in Web 2.0, I believe, is the blurring the line between publication and collaboration. In the old days, people collaborated in private. They talked to their friends and colleagues, wrote letters. Later they sent emails. All the real thinking happened in those private conversations. Eventually, once the key insights had been extracted, refined, and clarified, they published: books, articles, speeches, blast memos, etc.”

“…the really exciting thing that’s happening in Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 is that more and more of those private “pre-publication” interactions are happening in public (or at least semi-public). I think of this as the dawn of the “Work in Progress” culture. We no longer think that something has to be finished before we let strangers into the conversation.”

And then Gerry McKiernan in this post on Science 2.0.

A small but growing number of researchers–and not just the younger ones–have begun to carry out their work via the wide-open blogs, wikis and social networks of Web 2.0. And although their efforts are still too scattered to be called a movement–yet–their experiences to date suggest that this kind of Web-based “Science 2.0” is not only more collegial than the traditional variety, but considerably more productive.

Take a look. How might you work more transparently?

Transparency and openness are the lubrications that allow human social networks to create knowledge rapidly. If any one person prevents the flow by holding onto critical information, the power of the network can be degraded.

This can be a problem in hierarchies, where information flows through a few chokepoints. A well connected, diverse social network can deal with this problem.

In fact, small groups of humans have always been able to identify who these people are and often use social norms to either make them comply or to shun them, particularly if other sources of the information can be found. If these chokepoints no longer are getting any information, the power they hold is greatly reduced.

Now, this may not always happen because of someone’s unique position in a small group. But the huge scaling properties of the Internet, the Long Tail and its enormous potential, means that it becomes much less likely that a single point of failure will damage the network.

The Internet was designed to route around ‘damage’ and so can diverse, connected human social networks. The Web makes it much less likely that one person will hold unique information. Thus it weakens their advantages.

Power comes from weaving information into unique knowledge – knowledge to make decisions.

The positive effects of openness and transparency can very rapidly overcome any small advantage of an individual holding information close. They lose any advantage they might have because very little information is that unique.

If these information hoarders gain little advantage by being closed, and if the social network uses peer pressure to identify free riders and to deal with them, then it would appear that behavior would rapidly converge towards openness and transparency.

In fact, the groups that can more rapidly create knowledge using human social networks will be the first to solve many of the complex problems we face today. Groups with choke points will be much slower and, in the type of natural selection we see all around, will become extinct. At least where the need is to understand complex processes.

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