This is a pad for the Why Open? course at the School of Open (P2PU):

Link to main Why Open? course pad:

At our first Google Hangout, we talked about how, since this course is called "why open?", it would be good if we could actually try to give answers to that question in a collaborative way. Much of our work for this course takes place on blogs, which then are distributed in different places on the web. So why not collaboratively create a document where we all give our ideas on why one might make open products or engage in open activities. Then we could share this with others after the course is done!

We could also add in here some problems with openness too, issues that people have run into or could run into. Maybe we could have two sections of the document--it's up to all of us to create the document how we'd like.

Please add in why you think openness is a good thing to practice, and/or some problems with openness.

Please, in the spirit of collaboration, don't delete or modify what someone else has written. Just comment below or beside it!


Because a free/libre/open work can be adapted and improved upon by any person, it is safer to invest in the work because any person can patch and supplement it. 

For example, if I buy proprietary software I'm dependent on the company that I bought it from patching it. If the software is free/libre/open, the community or a particularly keen individual can create patches for it.

Because a free/libre/open work can be built upon by any person, investing in the work is more valuable because any person can increase the usefulness of the work.

For example, if I buy the free/libre/open game Dungeon World, I know that any person can create new races, classes, monsters and so on for the game - not just the original publisher. That makes the game more valuable than a similar but proprietary game.

This was probably on of the reasons Creative commons was designed? To allow for easy reuse and remixing.

(Counter: this only establishes that it is possible for open work to be supported, not that it will be.  What products are better supported in practice?  e.g. Apple is notoriously closed, but they are also renowned for very good tech support.  Google is at a funny midway point between openness and closedness... they take a fairly open approach to tech support, e.g. hosting and community-managing user forums.  And their support in all forms is generally woefull.  Under what conditions is support better and/or more reliable?)


Once a work is released as free/libre/open, future versions of the work need to be free/libre/open as well or the original version of the work can compete with future versions.

An example of this is Dungeons & Dragons third edition, much of which was released under the Open Game License. Because the fourth edition was not released under the Open Game License, a third party (Paizo Publishing) forked third edition and created the very successful Pathfinder. Pathfinder became more successful than Dungeons & Dragons fourth edition. 

(Feel free to delete or modify what I've written)

I see this particularly with Creative Commons licenses on Flickr, where there are images  do not belong to the person posting the image, but they are posting a CC license on it. 

This is open to discussion. I was speaking to someone working in the commercial sector and they said that providing things for free (eg. Aerial imagery that can cost millions/billions to fly) can devalue the product and also make it difficult for commercial (fair competition).


Openness is inherently related to the operating systems of the sharing economy and open, networked ways of working - e.g. open source systems typically (not always) operate on sharing/gift economies where people are contributing to the community or a cause.

Sharing and gift economies, and the emergent sharing/networked world are dramatically changing our society, and in particular the context for openness and closedness.  E.g. in a mostly closed, competitive market, providing information about your company may well be a detrement because your competitors will have access to information that they can use to outcompete you.   However, where sharing and gifting is more prevalent, being open about your work provides opportunity for others who are aligned with your interests to find synergies and support you.

Looking at it the other way, openness also underpins much of what is possible in the new economies.  e.g. we can only collaborate in a networked fashion if we can share information readily enough to coordinate our efforts (this is why these economies are only now becoming readily viable in our mass population world, because we can only now communicate effectively enough for sharing systems to scale beyond peer groups).

So, openness supports (or perhaps is inextricably tied to) the emergence of these new economies and new ways of working.  Are they better than how we have operated in the past?  Is openness worth pursuing in order to facilitate the emergence of these new systems?

I found this post which makes a compelling argument in favour of going libre (it's an excerpt from Share this book by Chris Sakkas) :