Whilst letting my Christmas dinner settle I took refuge in the study in my sister’s house and found an excellent blog post from Google that I think is essential reading for anyone working with information these days. Indeed the insights in it are also relevant to social sciences.
For your convenience I include some excerpts below (about 10% of total) but I would encourage all to read the full post.
The meaning of open Jonathan Rosenberg, Senior Vice President, Product Management Google
…After all, in our industry there is no clear definition of what open really means….
Open systems win
Open systems are just the opposite. They are competitive and far more dynamic. In an open system, a competitive advantage doesn’t derive from locking in customers, but rather from understanding the fast-moving system better than anyone else and using that knowledge to generate better, more innovative products. The successful company in an open system is both a fast innovator and a thought leader; the brand value of thought leadership attracts customers and then fast innovation keeps them…
The definition of open starts with the technologies upon which the Internet was founded: open standards and open source software….
Networks have always depended on standards to flourish. When railroad tracks were first being laid across the U.S. in the early 19th century, there were seven different standards for track width. The network didn’t flourish and expand west until the different railway companies agreed upon a standard width of 4′ 8.5″….
Most of those apps will be built on open source software, a phenomenon responsible for the web’s explosive growth in the past 15 years.
The foundation of open standards and open source has led to a web where massive amounts of personal information — photos, contacts, updates — are regularly uploaded….
Historically, new information technologies have often enabled new forms of commerce. For example, when traders in the Mediterranean region circa 3000 BC invented seals (called bullae) to ensure that their shipments reached their destinations tamper-free, they transformed commerce from local to long…
First and foremost, we need to make products that are valuable to users. In many cases, we can make our products even better if we know more information about the user, but privacy concerns can arise if people don’t understand what value they are getting in return for their information. Explain that value to them, however, and they will often agree to the transaction…
Next, we need to make it easy for users to find out what information we gather and store about them across all of our products. We recently took a big step in this direction with the launch of the Google Dashboard, which is a single place where users can see what personal data is held by each Google product (covering more than 20 products including Gmail, YouTube, and Search) and control their personal settings…
Finally, we must always give control to the user. If we have information about a user, as with IBA, it should be easy for the user to delete that information and opt-out. If they use our products and store content with us, it’s their content, not ours. They should be able to export it or delete it at any time, at no cost, and as easily as possible.
I really enjoyed the above article and think it is a very good start on properly defining open. One of my biggest takeaways is that being open forces you to stay innovating: you are obliged to come up with new & better product than your own… as else your competitors will do so, using your own open product !!
I think it is relevant to us in three ways:
- MIKE2.0 itself is of course an open source methodology, and much of Google’s message applies either directly or analogously to it. We’ve over 700 articles made public, an integrated content repository andmuch more.
- Open Standards: somewhat related to Methodology, we are obviously interested in Open Standards. Areas such as the Common Warehouse Metamodel and the eXtensible Business Reporting Languageremain underexploited. Also within companies Service Oriented Architecture is a form of open standard that can be especially relevant to information management (e.g. Master Data Services etc)
- Information Governance: too often in organisations people try to keep information secret & closed. Line manager hoard their information in silos ! Even when it is in some form of Data Warehouse the required metadata is incomplete and Data Stewards aren’t available to aid with discovery and guidance. Thought leadership like the above should aid in dissolving this attitude
Overall I’m excited to see a company like Google share their thoughts on “openness”. And seeing that is it Christmas I’ll end by pointing you towards -The Data Liberation Front – Google’s own inhouse team of information terrorists , whose goal is to ensure that you can liberate your data from Google, should you choose to leave. I’m not aware of other companies that sponsor their own opposition