With the orientation of the conference in mind, I gave a speech making the point that in fact all of our innovation systems are open. Yes, even the patent system! (Indeed, the word “patent” derives from Anglo-Norman “lettre patente,” meaning “open letter.” )
The key point of my speech to this group was that there are important lessons to be learned by carefully studying the differences in open disclosure policies across innovation systems.
Much of the content on that speech can now be found in our new paper: How Disclosure Policies Impact Search in Open Innovation
There are two key points to our paper:
The first point simply clarifies a basic distinction in the nature of disclosure policies. Society’s various innovation systems–academic science, the patent system, open source, etc.–can be distinguished in terms of whether disclosures take place only after final innovations are completed (e.g., final inventions, working technology platforms, completed research papers, biological organisms, etc.) or whether disclosures relate to intermediate solutions and advances (e.g., intermediate solutions, data, methodologies, etc.).
The second is that different open disclosure policies come with stark tradeoffs. Intermediate disclosures (ex: open source, open data, wiki’s, open access, etc.) have the advantage of efficiently steering development towards improving existing solutions, but produce less experimentation and wider “searching” for alternatives.
More closed final disclosure policies (ex: innovation contests, entrepreneurial system of industrial competition, traditional academic publishing) produce higher incentives, and greater independence of experimentation–albeit with less reuse and cumulative learning.
Karim is presenting the paper for us today at Stanford–go see him! http://hci.stanford.edu/connect/