How do you define ‘Open’?

This might come as an odd question coming from the OpenGardens blog .. But how do you define ‘Open’?

I was chairing the Mobile User Generated Content and Social Networking Forum 2007 in Rome a couple of weeks back .. When I had this conversation with Caroline sexton Vodafone Group Services

Caroline said that MySpace was more open than Facebook ..

To me, that did not sound right .. But her view was .. In MySpace, you can contact anybody .. Whereas in facebook – you only contact people directly in your network

Hence, she felt that MySpace was more open than facebook

In contrast, my view was: Facebook is more open(mainly due to its open APIs for third parties)

Both views are correct of course ..

However, this raises an interesting question: What is ‘Open’?

When I first co-wrote OpenGardens (with Tony Fish) .. We were an industry oddity.

Walled Gardens ruled ..

Today .. The tables have been turned .. And the tide is unrelenting against the walled gardens mentality ..

However, open still means different things for different people

A few still confuse ‘open’ with open source .. Which is of course a completely different concept

But to me, Open means three things

a) The customer’s experience of a product or service should not be restricted either physically(only allowing access to some sites) or technologically(proprietary technology)

b) A more deeper concept of transparency – for instance – phone bills which are not transparent. For instance see this example of roaming charges ..

c) Interoperability

Clearly, there are many differences in view point ..

In general, my belief if: technologies that allow multiple networks types to users(Wifi, Wimax etc) are good because they give the customer choice. As regards why this is good .. see Of OpenGardens, Walled Gardens, Coffee, Fax machines, Ostriches, Dodos and User generated content and this was the same theme of my talk at the European parliament ..

I am going to continue exploring these themes since there is much to explore and its critical to the industry as a whole ..

So, qs is: What do you mean by Open?


  1. Jadon says:

    When Web applications become open, you’ll only pay for the storage and bandwidth that you use and you’ll have just as much access to data about your peers as Google.