I’ve been flying around the internet for the last 24 hours, trying to get my mind around something that is disturbing me far more than it should be. Why should i care if Tim O’reilly’s company filed a trademark infringement cease and desist order to some conference with the name web 2.0 in the title?
Now i have my answer I fear oreillyism. I take issue with the coiner of the word, Dallas (whoever that is), as to the specific definition however. To me, oreillyism is the tendency of very good, socially construted ideas to be ‘owned’ by someone once they become successful and their usage/meaning enters the mainstream.
Let us take a case in point. Webct was created at the University of British Columbia as a collaborative project amongst many different people in and out of UBC. Last year, while trying to incorporate moodle into a school, I was told by the head of IT “listen, we were onboard with webct when it first started, we were asked to be part of the development, and now we pay 27000 dollars a year for the ‘campus edition’. and now you want me to get involved in another ‘free’ open source project. How long before moodle starts to charge us 30,000 dollars for its software?”
Am i saying that Murray shouldn’t have made a company, and they shouldn’t have sold it…? no way. Business is what it is. Schools need money as much if not more than other people. The problem is that oreillyism creates the form of alienation above. When people enter into a socially constructed environment, (like social software advocacy for instance) there is a certain expectation, right or wrong, that all the free work they are putting in will not be directly profited upon by others.
But that’s neither here nor there. The truth is that it happens. How many projects that were supposed to be ‘for the community’ have we all worked on, helped edit, playtest or whatever, that are now being marketed.
Again. Marketing is fair play. Situations change. Children need to be fed.
But every instance of oreillyism creates more alienation, makes it harder for everyone to trust that the project that they are working on is not simply going to be sold by the organizers.
So, how do we avoid oreillyism?
- Please, everyone, clearly identify your trademarks so we can all know what we can and can’t use.
- If you are going to be, someday, selling your product to google, let us know. Sell shares to your helpers.
- If you have plans to do new marketing, post it on your website
- Just let us know what you’re doing. Odds are if we’re working with/for you, we like you, we’ll be happy to see you succeed.
We can all make money together. We can all work together. This is about finding a new way to do business. AN OPEN WAY.
comment added following this post on eschoolnews
I in no way meant to imply that moodle WILL charge anyone anything ever. My intention in using the example was to illustrate how trust is affected by ‘oreillyism.’