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: (GIZ)

Source and Copyright: (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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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:

Blink And You’ll Miss It! / Pete / CC BY / Source:

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


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

Further readings on the question? Here.

Note: This text was first published on the blog of Balthas Seibold at the Alumniportal Germany ( 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