How to make money the open-source-way, but keep the commons alive? – Question 7 of 10 on ‚learning by sharing’

March 16, 2015 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn

Open innovation – often based on open licensing and commons-approaches – is changing the business models of more and more businesses and social institutions. Before the advent of open innovation, innovation was kept within the boundaries of the firm (or research institution). In contrast, “Open innovation is a paradigm that assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to markets, as the firms look to advance their technology”, scholar Henry Chesbrough, who coined the term open innovation, has put it. But what opportunities does this imply for institutions in developing countries? What are their learning opportunities?

Source and Copyright: https://10innovations.alumniportal.com (GIZ)

Source and Copyright: https://10innovations.alumniportal.com (GIZ)

Let’s take a look again at the global tech sector as a starting point (for more details, see Seibold 2010a). Here, the most prominent example of free and open source software development and licensing are the operating system Linux, the office suite Open Office and the web browser Firefox. Linux has shown that open-source programs can be very competitive. The reason is obvious: more people know the source code and, accordingly, can correct flaws and make other improvements.

For the private sector in developing countries, such knowledge commons provide a clear opportunity, not only for low-cost access to global state-of-the-art knowledge, technology transfer, and open peer-learning on a massive scale (see Seibold 2009, Seibold 2010a, Seibold 2010b; UNCTAD 2012: 9ff), but also because they have the potential to empower local businesses and communities in developing countries. This creates truly local open innovation by appropriating elements of outside open innovations and transforming them into a product or service that is relevant to local needs.

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Where to find free knowledge for open innovation in development? – Question 6 of 10 on ‚learning by sharing’

January 11, 2015 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn

Compendium of hubs for commons-based peer production 4Dev (screenshot)In previous blog entries, I talked a lot about commons-based peer production and learning in areas crucial to development cooperation such as Energy, Health, Education etc. A key question then is where to find such “free knowledge” for open innovation and for peer-production in the different sectors of human development?

I have collected an annotated compendium of hubs for commons-based peer production that are of particular interest for sustainable human development. These hubs include energypedia, appropedia, opensourceecology, Howtopedia, knowable, and Fabwiki. The compendium is complemented by links to comprehensive directories.

Please note, that I have included mainly hubs with a focus on “production”, on “peer-driven production” and on “commons-based initiatives” for human development. All those chosen focus on open learning and practical improvement on a community-level; nevertheless, many of them have a global reach.

Many of the platforms have deliberately chosen open models and ‘open source’ licenses that enable “commons-based peer production” as envisioned by Yochai Benkler. Why? Because they feel, that ‘open source’ licensing can best spur open learning, invention, and innovation processes that come with it.

 So here is my compendium of hubs for commons-based peer production for sustainable human development.

>>> Do you know more such hubs? Please let me know.

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Peer-producing knowledge: a game-changer for development cooperation? – Question 5 of 10 on ‚learning by sharing’

November 22, 2014 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn

Some critics argue that commons-based peer production and learning only apply in the digital, non-real world (“building websites”, “building online training material”). The concept, they say, is therefore less of interest to international and development cooperation, which focuses on non-digital environments and “hard” topics such as health, energy or agriculture.

Jaime from Bolivia and John from Rwanda are not in the business of building websites. They are in the business of building tube digesters to support local biogas production in rural Bolivia and in rural Rwanda. They live 6,515 miles apart, but they both use the same manual to build the tank. It is one of 822 open online articles packed with practical production know-ledge on the knowledge commons platform energypedia. The platform’s vision is “a world of free knowledge exchange and mutual learning on renewable energies in which everyone has access to sustainable energy sources.”

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What makes learning communities self-governed & fun? – Question 4 of 10 on ‚learning by sharing’

October 1, 2014 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn

Frank Ilugulilwa - IT Trainer in Tanzania / Copyright:  Frank Ilugulilwa

Frank Ilugulilwa – IT Trainer in Tanzania / Copyright: Frank Ilugulilwa

Frank Tilugulilwa is an IT trainer in Tanzania. He teaches local IT companies how to build services and revenues around so-called “Free and Open Source Software”. Such software can be copied and modified by every company and every individual client. Frank has written a training manual with over 80 other IT trainers and experts throughout Africa (and from elsewhere in the world) in an example of a community-generated learning content. His experience with commons-based peer production started back in 2008 when almost no training materials rooted in an African context were available.

Frank and other African IT and business experts developed over 250 pages of practical, open-licensed, modular training material. This has also resulted in a vibrant community of trainers who have a strong sense of ownership of their subjects and who know and trust each other. They are sharing their knowledge amongst themselves and their trainees, local IT companies across the continent. Again, we see the power of peer-to-peer learning centered around a knowledge commons: the process began as a capacity building program called ict@innovation launched by German development agency GIZ. The project aimed at creating business and learning opportunities with free and open source software in Africa. Now it is a community of more than 1,200 co-learners, co-producers and businesses (UNCTAD 2012: 65f).

This example can serve as a starting point to provide good practice measures on how initiatives can structure learning around peer-production processes.

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How to build learning communities, that work peer-to-peer? – Question 3 of 10 on ‚learning by sharing’

September 22, 2014 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn

In the field of online sharing and learning, the “Massive Open Online Course” (“MOOC”) has received a lot of attention. Many are enthusiastic about what elite universities such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Harvard are piloting. The two schools have offered joint online courses that have attracted well over 100,000 students. Much is also written about the start-up ventures Udacity and Coursera, which managed to enroll over two million students in just one year. These ventures provide a forum to some of the world’s best professors to host their lectures online. The students are then encouraged to participate through online forums that helpbuild a joint learning

Source and copyright: CC WORLDBANK PHOTO COLLECTION goo.gl/g25U8y

Source and copyright: CC WORLDBANK PHOTO COLLECTION goo.gl/g25U8y

community. They typically do not offer academic credit aside from, in some cases, a statement of completion. But they also do not charge tuition. There are estimates that only about ten percent of students who sign up for courses actually follow them until the end 1. And it still remains to be seen whether mass distribution of centralized online lectures will ultimately be incorporated into the formal educational system or whether they are just briefly hyped by universities and venture capitalists searching for new revenue sources and recognition.This article will, therefore, go beyond the MOOC.

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  1. See article by Tamar Lewin (2013, January 1): “Students Rush to Web Classes, but Profits May Be Much Later”, New York Times

What makes people share knowledge? – Question 2 of 10 on ‚learning by sharing’

September 6, 2014 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn

Blink And You’ll Miss It! / Pete / CC BY / Source: https://secure.flickr.com/photos/comedynose/4058757916/

Blink And You’ll Miss It! / Pete / CC BY / Source: https://secure.flickr.com/photos/comedynose/4058757916/

Why do peers help peers to share and co-produce knowledge? Research suggests that there is a whole set of motivations that makes people share their knowledge, a mixture between altruistic and self-serving motives summed up in the following table:

14 Reasons Why Peers Help Peers to Learn: Why Do They Share Their Knowledge? (Table 1)

  1. Because you learn yourself through co-production and tutoring
  2. Because you win recognition and prestige from your peers
  3. Because you might further your own interests through the co-production of knowledge, such as testing new solutions, benchmarking, mastering a technology, etc.
  4. Because you can solve a problem that you can only solve by collaborating with others
  5. Because you might gain power of persuasion within your organisation, network, or peer group
  6. Because you are proud to co-own a tangible “product”
  7. Because you have the freedom to co-create knowledge or goods, which increases autonomy and self-direction, and thereby motivation
  8. Because you build emotional bonds with people and things
  9. Because you feel “meaningful” by supporting the community, giving back through reciprocity (putting values such as fairness, solidarity, and altruism into practice)
  10. Because you know that the result of your commons-based peer activities will be available to others over time, and cannot be monopolized or privatized
  11. Because you feel good being associated with a trendy and innovative community
  12. Because you get continued access to knowledge, news and services
  13. Because you enlarge your personal and professional networks
  14. Because you can freely choose topics according to your interests

Sources for table above: GTZ 2006: 43; Wenger et al. 2011; Preece/Shneiderman 2009; Wikimedia Deutschland e.V. 2011: 125ff; Ghosh et al. 2002: 43-50; own considerations; Pyne 2010 1

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This blog is part of a series of 10 questions that I have extracted of my article “Learning by Sharing  – „How global communities cultivate skills and capacity through peer-production of knowledge“. The piece has been released in June  as part of the GIZ Online- Series „10 trends in open innovation. How to leverage social media for new forms of cooperation“. Check it at http://www.knowledge-commons.de/en/learning-by-sharing/

Further readings on the question? Here.

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Note: This text was first published on the blog of Balthas Seibold at the Alumniportal Germany (www.alumniportal-deutschland.org/en/). Check the blog ( register or login first). All blog entries represent the personal views and ideas of Balthas Seibold.

  1. Pyne, Becca; Stephenson, Abi; Cognitive Media (2010) “The surprising truth about what motivates us” (2010, April 1), RSA Animate – Drive, Retrieved June 27, 2013

What is commons-based peer learning? – Question 1 of 10 on ‚learning by sharing’

September 2, 2014 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn

Source and Copyright: https://10innovations.alumniportal.com (GIZ)

Source and Copyright: https://10innovations.alumniportal.com (GIZ)

The Internet and with it the rise of social networks have enabled a radically innovative way of producing knowledge-related goods. Software can now be jointly written by thousands of developers as the operating system ‘Linux’ shows. The encyclopedia Wikipedia is updated by roughly 1.7 million contributors worldwide. Law professor Yochai Benkler has coined the term “commons-based peer-production” to describe this development. He has defined some of the characteristics intrinsic to this phenomenon.

Commons-based peer-production is “radically decentralized, collaborative and nonproprietary, based on sharing resources and outputs among widely distributed, loosely connected individuals who cooperate with each other without relying on either marked signals or managerial commands”, he wrote in his 2006 book “The Wealth of Networks” (Benkler 2006:60).

A Wikipedia article is an organic text produced by hundreds of ‘peers’. This free text is not controlled by one formal editor-in-chief, but is, instead, a unifying construct. The document might be conceptualized by a student in Germany, revised by a farmer in Bolivia, and fine-tuned by a professor in South Africa. The article is ruled by a commons-based license. This means that the end product of this co-production is, in turn, available to readers and additional editors through an open license, ensuring that all future versions can be shared, traced back to the author and further improved.

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This blog is part of a series of 10 questions that I have extracted of my article “Learning by Sharing  – „How global communities cultivate skills and capacity through peer-production of knowledge“. The piece has been released in June  as part of the GIZ Online- Series „10 trends in open innovation. How to leverage social media for new forms of cooperation“. Check it at http://www.knowledge-commons.de/en/learning-by-sharing/

Further readings on the question? Here.

____
Note: This text was first published on the blog of Balthas Seibold at the Alumniportal Germany (www.alumniportal-deutschland.org/en/). Check the blog ( register or login first). All blog entries represent the personal views and ideas of Balthas Seibold.

Let’s talk about “Learning by Sharing”

July 2, 2014 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn, News on publications, Open Source & Africa

Source and Copyright: https://10innovations.alumniportal.com (GIZ)

Source and Copyright: https://10innovations.alumniportal.com (GIZ)

Today, I invite you to join the conversation on an article, which I just published on the issue of “Learning by sharing – how global communities cultivate skills and capacity through peer-production of knowledge“. I posit in this paper, that commons-based peer learning offers a trigger to enhance skills, competencies, connections, capacities, and the agency of people and their organisations on a global scale – from the global peer-to-peer university to a worldwide expert  community of biogas digesters producers. It provides the freedom to learn – by sharing the world’s wealth of knowledge.

What do you think? Do you know additional examples of global -based peer production for human development?  What are your thoughts on how to link sustainable human development to solutions that scale, empower, benefit, and increase ownership? Is peer-to-peer learning a potential game changer?

I cordially invite you to read the article and to join the conversation by posting your comment below the piece.

If you are part of the TLDR-community (Too long didn’t read …): Don’t worry, I will release selected subtopics of “learning by sharing” over the coming weeks here on www.knowledge-commons.de Stay tuned: You can subscribe the rss feeds of new posts or follow me on twitter.

Why open innovation helps to scale up development impact – Great new article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review

September 6, 2012 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn

Steel Wool Sparks on the Beach

Now that is sparkling (innovation?) – Picture by: Evan Photo Extremist, licenced under CC BY-ND 2.0, source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thevlue/5813641070/sizes/z/in/photostream/

The Stanford Social Innovation Review just published an article on “Open Innovation: A Muse for Scaling” – Good chances, that this paper will become my personal “favorite article of 2012”. Why?

Well, the paper manages to explain in just two pages and in plain words, why open innovation has the potential to drastically increase the impact of development interventions. It is very prone to scale. As they sum it up: “Open innovation enables community participation, distributed accountability, and knowledge creation—all behaviors that provide the groundwork for scale”.

So let us all work on getting the five tips right in our own work, which are:
Tip 1: Turn beneficiaries into co-creators
Tip 2: Move from enterprise to ecosystem
Tip 3: Master the art of gifting
Tip 4: Spark entrepreneurship inside and outside your organization
Tip 5: Allow for mutability

Very relevant stuff indeed for development cooperation and international cooperation. For more info (on two pages), check Open Innovation: A Muse for Scaling or here on the Alumniportal: APD-copy of Open Innovation: A Muse for Scaling [This is a link to content within the Alumniportal Germany (register or login first to access the link)]. Cheers, Balthas

P.S. Thanks and Kudos to Jeremy de Beer who pointed me to the article.

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Note: This text was first published on the blog of Balthas Seibold at the Alumniportal Germany (www.alumniportal-deutschland.org/en/). Check the blog ( register or login first). All blog entries represent the personal views and ideas of Balthas Seibold.

“Participation in education” – the story of yet another embattled concept …

June 26, 2012 in Freedom to learn

This picture is how the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom visualized "participation". Licenced under a cc attribution 2.5 licence. Source and copyright: http://www.wilpf.org/2010CSWInvitation

This picture is how the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom visualized “participation”. Licenced under a cc attribution 2.5 licence. Source and copyright: http://www.wilpf.org/2010CSWInvitation

So I am listening to the speakers of the panel “Learning is  a two-way street: Participation in Communication and Education” of this years’ “Global Media Forum” of Deutsche  Welle. And I keep thinking that the speakers on the panel seem to describe another case of a “stolen concept” here:

Kanchan Malik from India’s University of Hyderabad starts by defining “participation”. She explains,  that the original meaning of “participation” was taken away from the practitioners, more precisely the power of defining it was taken away from the “communities”, who are supposed to participate in communication, learning and  political transformation. Quite an irony.

I also hear lots of other formulations that hint at the perception of a distortion. The speakers emphasize, that “participation has often been reduced to a multipurpose label  to give respectability to projects”.

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New compilation of training material on Open Source Business Models for Development online

August 4, 2008 in Freedom to innovate, Open Source & Africa, Open Source & Asia, Open Source IT business

The it@inwent team recently added a new section to their website. This sites provides an overview of InWEnt’s main capacity building programmes and trainings in the area of “FOSS Business Models and Sustainable Development” as well as its respective training materials. Co-Editor Balthas Seibold explains that “business models based on FOSS offer great potential for developing and transition countries as well, as the development and distribution of FOSS follows the principles of ownership, local value addition, empowerment and participation. Thereby, FOSS provides ample opportunities for the development of a local ICT economy, creation and transfer of ICT knowledge, legal use of software and access of poorer communities to ICTs.” The compilation is online at the it@inwent website. (Update: Link now goes to the site archived by the Internet Archive – last version of 2012).

Knowledge Powers Development

September 6, 2006 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn, Open Source IT business

efta2006Knowledge Powers Development was the overarching theme of this year’s Eschborn dialoge, a discussion forum bringing together most of Germany’s development community. Balthas Seibold was a panellist of the workshop “WWW and knowledge – free access to knowledge as the basis for education and economic development”. His credo: New technologies and techniques such as “Free and Open Source Software” can offer interesting opportunities to “power development”. More on the workshop is online in the programme brochure. For a summary of the discussion, also see the blog of Netzpolitik (in German).

InWEnt yourself

July 26, 2005 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn, Open Source IT business, Work

English_Logo_of_InWEntAfter three exciting years as an Associate Expert at UNESCO, Balthas Seibold is going to take up new challenges in Germany: As of September, he will be working with InWEnt in Bonn, a German development agency in the field of capacity building and training. A senior project manager for programmes on “ICT for Development”, he will develop capacity building projects in Asia, Africa and the Middle East within the department of Sustainable Business Development. For more information see http://www.it-inwent.net (now on the Internet Archive).