Radical Transparency


Whenever I take a long haul flight there are a couple of magazines I always pick up for the journey: Wired and The Economist.  While very different in style and content, they have one thing in common that makes them perfect for whiling away the boredom.  They both have lots of brief articles on a range of topics that I just don't come across on a regular basis.  This means that whatever my mood I am always going to be able to find something interesting and thought provoking to read.  And hey, if an article insn't that great, I just move on to the next.

Last week I was lucky enough to take a trip to Las Vegas and read both on the journey.  The Economist had a promising special on mobile/wireless computing which unfortunately turned out to be a disappointment.  Wired on the other hand grabbed my attention with a piece on radical transparency.  Clive Thompson's article centred on three ideas:

  • Secrecy is Dead (In the information age you can't hide anything for long, so why bother)
  • Tap The Hivemind (Put all your ideas out there.  Your customers/readers will help you come up with better ideas than you ever could on your own)
  • Reputation is Everything (Google is a reputation engine)

Clive went on to argue that combining these principles into the notion of Radical Transparency is the new way to succeed in business.  Indeed, to support his case he used the principle in writing the article itself.  He first published some initial thoughts on his blog, and invited users to comment, some of which ended up being used in the final publication. While Clive did post a follow-up piece, what I haven't yet seen is an analysis of how valuable he thought the process was in this case, and whether he would use the approach again.  Clive are you listening?

Regardless, I think the idea is interesting enough to start an experiment.  Rather than limit myself to the purely the technical aspects of our collaboration technologies, I plan to start writing here some more of the thoughts and observations that occur to me as I travel around doing consulting work.  The challenge for me will to learn to be able to formulate my ideas into something readable in a short enough timescale to be able to fit this into my working day.  But hopefully, this will be a new discipline and learning process that will be rewarding in its own right.


Comments (1)
  1. Yes, I’m listening! Heh. I actually do have a bunch of thoughts on how the process of cracking open my reporting helped things along — what situations I can forsee it working really well in, what situations I can forsee it hindering things. I haven’t yet cogitated it into a coherent whole, though, so I didn’t blog it … but I do want to, and soon.

    I’ve been totally fascinated to watch the *other* ways in which blogging is rejiggering the physics of reporting, as with the lively debate over at Jeff Jarvis over his argument that <a href="http://www.buzzmachine.com/2007/04/26/the-obsolete-interview/">"the interview is outmoded and needs to be rethought".</a>

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