Sunday, February 16, 2003


open :: business

The Open Business Foundation need not have a single vision that
it strives to enforce on a community or collection of communities.
Doing so would most likely result in an early demise of the OBF.

I have been thinking that I needed to define the OBF in just such a
way. Giving well-defined boundaries, an attack plan, or sets of rules
is a normal way of proceeding in the development of groups and
organizations. This provides a pre-digested form of ideas that are
easily distributed and ingested by others.

However, I was reading something interesting...

Clay Shirky mentioned Albert-Laszlo Barabasi in his article Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality. In the course of rereading this article, I began visiting its links, and found a most extraordinary page (this is also a good one), one with a link to the first chapter of a fascinating book:

"LINKED: The New Science of Networks"

How Everything is Connected to Everything Else and What it Means for Science, Business and Everyday Life

In particular, this quote stood out in my mind:

"But Paul understood that this was not enough: The message had to
spread. So he used his firsthand knowledge of the social network of the
first century's civilized world from Rome to Jerusalem to reach and
convert as many people as he could. He walked nearly 10,000 miles in
the next twelve years of his life. He did not wander randomly, however;
he reached out to the biggest communities of his era, to the people and
places in which the faith could germinate and spread most effectively.
He was the first and by far the most effective salesperson of
Christianity, using theology and social networks equally effectively.
So should he, or Jesus, or the message be credited for Christianity's
success? Could it happen again?"

How can Open Business establish a foothold in our internetworked
world? How can it learn from marketing and networking masters such as
Paul? How can the OBF plant itself in the brains of great thinkers and
leaders? How can its message be perfectly tailored to suit so many
different needs?

That's absurd, of course - yet it is what businesses are constantly
trying to do - be everything to everyone; garruntee consumer return.
Yet using the word "Open" in such a context seems hollow at best.

The Open Business Foundation would be better serving and better
served if it provided a forum for competing visions; a cruicible for
combining these visions; a place where views could be expressed in the
knowledge that contributions were being made in a free and open space.
The OBF is the combination of all the people and differing views that
offer themselves as part of the process; it is flexible and
self-modifying. The OBF is the evolution of open business ideas and
implementations; it is not a crusade.

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