Interviewed by Nicole Simon

I was both honoured and delighted to be interviewed about my participation in reboot by Nicole Simon. Here is the link to the podcast on bloxpert.  For my part I found that listening to the other interviews made me feel like I am at reboot already.

What is intellectual property in the time of social and technological knowledge ownership?

In the age of knowledge social ecosystems, emergent phenomena happens in a nonlinear way. After interviewing a few people I had to sit in the garden, listen to the rain, and meditate on the information at hand and the objectives of reboot.

I started my preparation for the interactive inquiry into “Knowledge ownership” (workshop) by picking the brains of a few very bright individuals chosen at random or at my convenience and the few that  braved to volunteer. Given that random is just another form of bias, and convenience can be considered a characteristic of a social system, I thank those named below for sharing their knowledge and opinions in such an informal and generous manner. Both skype (voice and/or im) and personal face-to-face interviews were used.

Ben Voigt, Jean-François Groff, Jens-Christian Fischer, Pedro Custodio, Rick Segal and Matthias Guenter.

Interview questions guidelines: 1. In your formal education, how much intellectual property (IP) training or information have you had? 2. What do you know about IP? 3. When do you use IP? How? 4. What works in today’s IP system? 5. What does not? 6. What kind of IP protection do you wish for? First of all, I learned a lot and was inspired by what was shared in these  interviews. To put it in other words, there is work to do, lots of work, and this is the kind of work that I have fun doing.

Here are a few of the observations synthesized from what I heard and understood:

1. The available tools for intellectual property protection are not well known. University and tertiary education do not deal with the subject in any depth, if at all. A working knowledge is obtained on the job, and thus colored by whatever strategies used at the workplace.

2. The distinction of what constitutes intellectual property is not clear. The available tools and sources of information are not well known.

3. The perception is that the present system works in part and in specific situations, it is however stretched beyond its limits when it comes to software. Software and hardware do not have the same inherent characteristics (development cycle, lifetime, development cost, technical challenge).

4. It is important to protect one’s development investment and reward creativity.

5. Prior art search is not easily accessible. (Where, what, how)

6. Trivial patents are an hinderance.

7. Cost and enforcement are very demanding.

Yes there was more, but the seven points above represent the highlights.

What is the idea here? We will have a chance to interact and get thinking – not just having thoughts – about what is essential in the question of knowledge ownership and what would be fit for purpose. I view this workshop as the first step in creating the kind of knowledge ownership tools or guidelines that are going to serve our world wide needs.

Where do we begin? Consider that we live in a world where:

1. Physical resources are abundant. 2. Business is about people creating economic and social sustainability and bringing forth change. 3. Logistics and knowledge are pivotal intangibles. 4. The key resource is intelligence.

How do we address the question of knowledge ownership in software?

reboot 8 preparation

reboot 8.0 is happening on June 1-2 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

I have been exchanging ideas via email with Thomas about what I would like to see happening. I am delighted that this idea has found good resonance on his side as it is something along the lines of what he wanted to do.

Here is my thinking on how to start creating a new connected conversation on intellectual property at the edge of the values paradigm shift:

1. who we are: reboot is a gathering of 400 or so people all with a vested interest to some degree or another in internet technology, software, social software, technology itself, society. the kinds of people whom we are so fond of calling geeks. that is, those rare souls that dare to break a few old worn out patterns and to explore new territory. most of these geeks blog in one form or another, all think. we are coming from a bit all over the world, mostly from the more connected affluent world, mostly europeans, but also people from canada and the usa. i expect the danish blogger community to show up en mass. is this right?

2. the world that we live in: whatever it is that we want to call our age – information, digital, knowledge, techno-freaked-muddled, post-industrial, web 2.0 – it is an age where resources are plenty and easily sourced. logistics and knowledge do play a major role. part of the logistics is the communication, and that is where most information technology finds itself. yes, we all know that africa exists, some of us have been there and it does not change the fact that we live in a world of abundance. clearly not all logistics problems are solved, to say nothing of the mess in communications. counter-arguments are welcome in comments here or directly via email.

3. my observation/assertion: there is a paradigm shift currently taking place in what concerns creating a thriving business. a thriving business is a business that is sustainable . to me a business is sustainable when it makes its community prosper (read, happy, fulfilled, satisfied, peaceful). note that for a community to prosper, maintaining the status quo is not a requirement. all to say that

business is about people .

business is not  about goods or money, but about people making their world – this world now – work for them and

allowing all to live in dignity . the business paradigm shift in progress is from capitalism to values. the shift is from humans serving things, to things serving humans.

4. my inference:

in a world where resources are abundant and that is dependent on both logistics and communication, the key resource is intelligence . ok, this is not mind boggling, but what does that mean? that means that the advancing edge of evolution resides within intellectual assets. what does that mean? it means that we eat potatoes and rice, and that we thrive on culture. education is more important than ever, and the ability to work together in a win-win mode is imperative. i could quickly digress and jump into much philosophy too quickly, so let me get back to what i want to say. given that you (the reader) is both of more than average intelligence and used to thinking out-of-the-box, you will either very quickly follow my line of thought or you will not be shy about asking questions that will further your understanding of what are sometimes in my mind huge leaps in logic. present day intellectual property tools (laws, jurisdiction, systems, treaties, agreements) were tailored for the needs of the industrial revolution and were created in the late 1800’s. these instruments did not anticipate the evolution in technology with which we live in day in and day out, or with the fast development of digital devices or instant communications. the situation is bit like trying to drive a car by pedaling: ridiculous.

if the crown jewels of our age are intellectual assets, how are we going to deal with intellectual property rights?

5. this is the scenario. before reboot, what i want to do is to pick the brains of a few people attending and other geeks around me, and to ask them what questions they have about intellectual property (IP). in particular, what i want to learn about is what they are thinking IP-wise and where the needs and confusions are. in obtaining this information in an informal way, it will inform me as to where the issues are and how i can ask the questions of the plenum (those gathered at reboot) that will get us all some answers that can be actionable.

6. how do i work in an interactive sweatshop (forum) is to ask questions and get answers from the participants. the questions have to be provocative enough to get both good quick thinking and a good level of participation. having several bloggers online in the room will make this interactive query into intellectual property and assets all the more interesting. having people in back-channels getting information from the outside, would make it all the more interesting. individual intelligence is great, collective intelligence is what this inquiry will be about.

This is the starting point of the public conversation. I welcome all input, commentary, counter arguments and brilliant insights. In particular I am looking for a few good people working in IT, what I would like to call the digital practitioners, to contact me so that we can set up a phone/skype/iChat/in-person interview as soon as possible.


NB: Send email to nexe at mac dot com (or any other mac email of mine that you may have) and/or leave your comments here. Comments are moderated and will only be published after approval. For the next two weeks I will be accessing the Internet via UMTS and will not be online continuously. There will be delays until comments are published or until I respond .