Video Bridge / Pattern Language /
Knowledge Sharing







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Franz: I found a great blog post that will help us structure this pattern


How Sharing increses innovation

I believe there is a strong tie between sharing and the ability to innovate. This post will walk you through the logic.

Innovation is built on these things:

1. The existence of problems and the desire to solve them: Frankly, there is no dearth of problems and some kinds of people really like to think about how to solve them if they have the time. So problem-solving people who have at least some time on their hands try to problem-solve and people who don’t have time, can’t. […]

2. The ability to apply NEW ways of thinking to these problems: Problems that are kept hidden in discipline silos don’t get any new thinking applied to them. See all the great work done by Innocentive, that gets problems out of silos and opens them up to a diverse group of solvers.

3. The cost of the inputs needed to solve the problem (skills, data, resources, devices, networks): Here is where I want to linger for a bit. There is a whole world of inputs that could come at much lower cost – wherever there is excess capacity, an underused resource that has already been paid for and which therefore has lots more value locked up in it! If only we could get people, companies, governments to “share” more – to make sure that their unused unneeded excess capacity was made available to others to make use of.

Exactly when are we NOT willing to share?

  • When we believe that abundance only comes from hoarding and we perceive that everything is rivalrous (see previous post).
  • When we have just witnessed a communal sharing debacle (Chinese cultural revolution) or when goods really are rivalrous.
  • When things really are scarce, there is just simply not enough to go around and so we hoard to protect our closest family.
  • When things are abundant, why bother?
If we look at these reasons for not sharing excess capacity (and thus facilitating a whole lot more innovation), I see lots of room for improvement.

We have to stop our rapid and prejudiced assumption that sharing reduces our own personal abundance. There are lots and lots of goods that are non-rivalrous (the new push towards open data for example), and many once-rivalrous goods that can now be shared (cars) thanks to technology. We’ve also come to appreciate that anything with a network effect actually has a much higher value the more it is shared (carsharing, ridesharing, social networks, mesh networks, the internet).

Recently I’ve been doing a lot of writing and talking on this topic of increasing openness.

MarkusPetz: We also will not share as can be seen in the book Guns Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond IF we think we gain more by controlling resources (either by keeping away competition OR by controlling ow others access those resources). So for example a libary benefits all, as I don't loose if there are more books as I have to spend less for them. But if there is use of a swing in a park by a child, telling the other children means less time for the children that know to use the swings. Similarly, adults may want to control others access to money and thus others are turned into wage slaves, and in a society this power relationship can ensure the powerful have to do less manual work, physical work or unpleasant tasks. Those less well off will do them. I guess this applies to dealing with waste properly etc.

4. The ability to iterate, adapt, evolve and scale: In some cases, even if we deliver up items 1-3, there are some sectors in which we still don’t get much innovation because of institutional or government barriers. The status quo has developed a whole set of rules and regulations to protect existing ways of doing things, as well as protect the health and safety of people. I would put the automotive, housing, and a good piece of the telecommunications sectors into this category.

Sometimes the rationale is good and sometimes it isn’t. In any event, if we are going to see successful innovation, we have to let small scale (some volume) experiments flourish without many of the safety and regulatory requirements we place on large volume sellers of goods and services. Bureaucratic and even well-meaning red tape just make experimentation impossible.

A quote I heard from Tom Watson, founder of IBM: “if you want to improve your success rate, double your failure rate.” And a far less elegant quote from Robin Chase: “if you want to improve your innovation rate, open up more data, devices, networks, platforms, sources, and stuff.”

and a post in reply says:

this article reminds me of James Boyle's book The Public Domain and my review of it.

See, almost everything, no matter how abundant, is divided when shared. E.g. if you share a car, you won't be able to use it all the time, which may be just fine, but it's still an obvious limitation. Sharing a courtyard means you can only use part of it, and so on. (I'm oversimplifying here. Bear with me.)

Well, here's the trick: information has the exact opposite behaviour. If I tell you something you didn't know, we both end up knowing it to the same degree; the knowledge has multiplied without any loss to me. Moreover, now that you're spared the effort of rediscovering the same thing yourself, you may get ahead and discover something I couldn't. Then, if you share in turn, we both end up knowing twice as much as before, without sacrificing anything. (You don't believe it? This is how science works, and how it has progressed as far as it has.)

Notice the problem? Information behaves differently from virtually everything else. No wonder people don't get it. They keep asking 'but how am I going to get recoup my costs?', while failing to take into account the benefits they already get from others sharing with them.

And so we end up with Disney building on classical fairy tales and then suing people for building on their works, big pharma reusing decades or centuries of medical research and then patenting the results so that no-one can build further, etc. Of course it costs them a lot.

Oh, and lest you think I don't know why sharing material goods works: it's because no one man can use what they own with 100% efficiency, but several people together might come close, even if each of them individually gets a smaller share. Yes, I'm a programmer...


HelmutLeitner May 17, 2010 9:56 CET: I think one should be specific, not general, in writing about patterns. This page makes little sense this way, because it advocates general information sharing. This is outside of the context. Advocacy is not the same as Alexandrian pattern thinking. The pros and cons of sharing knowledge need not be of importance, when we want a video community to flourish. No one needs to sacrifice a patent when talking here about aperture and lighting. We need to share knowledge regarding video. Where do you share this knowledge? I suppose you have video knowledge? Oh, you are talking about what people should, not what you actually do? We need knowledge in the form of video, because people like this form of knowledge. Its visual and for many people more digestible than some text. We need knowledge about the production of all kinds of video media. How to plan, record and cut a video clip. How to video bridge? Where is this? Where do you plan to make this available?

Connected Patterns:

Fill your knowledge into the 97% void spaces above. Walk your talk if you want to make sense. Otherwise his smells like a double morale of priests that pray water while drinking wine.

FranzNahrada May 17, 2010 12:47 CET: Helmut: you are right about the fact that too little is done in this Wiki to share the knowledge about videobridging, but that is beside the point here. Your obvious anger is not justified; this page is about the patterns and cultures of communities sharing their knowledge, not just about video. This culture is supposedly an essential background for videobridging.

HelmutLeitner May 17, 2010 13:10 CET: Franz, I do not agree that it is an essential background. One can do video bridging on a commercial basis without the free sharing of knowledge. Sharing is not for free, it is a lot of work, as you know. So, if there is no direct visible advantage for sharing, people will not do it. You do not do it. I do not do it. So what you need to do is, to make the advantage of working in a community as part of a network plausible. You can only make this in the concrete. This is completely the wrong place for general propaganda.

FranzNahrada May 17, 2010 13:29 CET This is not propaganda. If video bridging could function well on the base of commercial content logic we would have seen its success already happen since a long time. We agreed that there can be lots of enabling commercial add-ons to a sharing agreement that could make it vital and sustainable, but at least for for me this is and remains an add-on that builds on a sharinbg / commins logic that we need to explore closer.

HelmutLeitner May 17, 2010 14:03 CET: I'm not against KnowledgeSharing, I'm against empty words. I'm for ks, but I see the problems and difficulties, the pros and cons that you decide not to so ... therefore I name this propaganda. The most successful video bridge events, the MontagsAkademie, is not free knowledge sharing in your sense. The point about success is the quality and size of the cooperating network.

FranzNahrada: at least the last part is absolutely agreed on.

HelmutLeitner May 17, 2010 14:32 CET: One can't build a railroad system, let's say "for apples only". A railroad will necessarily transport everything, people and cattle, coal and vegetables, books and drugs, mail and money. A strong video bridge network will combine many different interests, of idealists and service providers, of villages and universities, of corporation and churches, of privates and politicians. All this will be transported over the VB network, when it works. Most of your large partners, like PROCOM and TELEKOM are far from your KS ideal and will be among the first to make business on it. I do not see any justification for your narrowing of potential partners or concepts. I also do not see how you could actually do it, institutionally and personally, I have never seen you say NO to anybody.

You see that practical absurdity of this pattern the moment someone comes and says: "oh, great, I'm won for this idea, where can I do this knowledge sharing." At that point you have no text to point to, but you stutter instead: "well, now,yes, wonderful, that depends ...". So you know, that you have not described a pattern, something that can lead to a direct decision or action, but something fuzzy and remote to that. Waiting for an answer he continue "oh, I understand, like Wikipedia, I could write some wikipedia pages for video bridging" and you say "well, ok, have you done that before?" and he says "no, but it seems simple enough" and you think "Good God, how shall I tell him that that's not that simple." and he says ... and you say ... and he says ... and you say ... and he says "I didn't know that KnowledgeSharing is so complicated."

The whole PatternLanguage thing is about KnowledgeSharing, how to get knowledge into the usable junks called patterns and how to systematically describe them. Where is the system in the text above? Where is the context? Where are pros and cons? Whom are you adressing? The entrepeneur or the software developer or the teacher or the working poor? In what situation? Typically the answer is: Everybody in every possible situation! But this means: nobody is adressed, and no situation is recognizable.

You can understand KnowledgeSharing probably as a MultiPattern or MetaPattern?, if you remember my presentation at the first Wikiposium in Vienna. Such multi or meta patterns (like "bulding", "book" or "money") are very powerful in reality but they can't be understood as single patterns. They are like a bundle of patterns, each having different context and rationale, that just happen to have the same technical form. In this case it is even more complicated, because it's not a visible form they have in common, but an unvisible socio-legal form.

If you are able to see yourself as a person who really wants to advance knowledge sharing through a sustainable developing effort, you should write a separate pattern language for knowledge sharing. This might easily contain 50-100 patterns of their own: e. g. the patterns of open source software, of scientific peer reviewed publication, of legal conditions ruling the publication of media, wikipedia of course, modern internet sharing platforms (like flickr & youtube) and so on. Even patents are forms of knowledge sharing, exchanging sharing for a timespan of protection and commercial use. You would have to deal with a boundary that is omnipresent: of the knowledge that is shared vs. the knowledge that is not shared. Even a teacher, who is paid, does neither disclose all his knowledge, nor does he make visible where the boundary of his knowledge is, practically pretending unlimited knowledge.

Why do you, as an advocate of KnowledgeSharing, don't share e. g. your knowledge as a hotel manager? There might be people interested in this, who could make good use of it. If you can't answer this question seriously and fairly towards yourself and others, you need not think about writing in this field.

Again, KnowledgeSharing is a world of its own, that can't be tackled in this place, not with this low level of pattern methodology consciousness, not in the context of VideoBridge, and not in this way.