Openness is more than an API

Doc’s gone and done it again – got me thinking and linking stuff whirring around in my brain.

This time it’s over an email he sent to Nathan Torkington of O’reilly, documented in a post titled “Business as Morality”.

Doc Searls: Business as Morality

In it, Doc outlines three moralities, however it’s the last one that caught my attention.

Morality of generosity. We give. We are open. We love without expectation of reward, or even accounting. (In fact, when you bring in accounting, you compromise it.) Think about how we give to our spouses, our children, without strings. It pays off, too.

(emphasis mine)
This morality of generosity is characterised by giving. We see it in technology in the ‘sharing’ of open APIs in the web environment today. But Doc is right when he points to the family relationship as a model of this morality. There is no other place that requires such intense, ongoing, openness. Here we see the meaning having its impetus from something much deeper than technology. As Linda Stone’s address at last years Supernova conference hinted, the shape of technology is more fashioned by and for culture than it is an incidental happening of experimentation.

Linda Stone: Supernova 2005: Attention

In short, we create and form what we crave. The tools we use are what’s at hand and what we can make with what’s at hand. But the driver is people, not the technology in and of itself.

So, what do we crave now? Linda outlines some of it in her address:

So now we’re overwhelmed, under fulfilled, seeking meaningful connections.

Now we long for a quality of life that comes in meaningful connections to friends, colleagues, family that we experience with full-focus attention on relationships, etc.

The next aphrodisiac is committed full-attention focus. In this new area, experiencing this engaged attention is to feel alive.

I happen to believe that full-attention focus has always been an aphrodisiac. Just look at kids and what they do for attention. It might just be that at this point in time we’re beginning to realise it. And the technologies of the Net are forming to make it possible.

Too much openness at once?

I wonder are virtual worlds becoming more popular because the internet world is becoming more like the real world – or at least how we sense the real world should be – and for many people it leaves them feeling too vulnerable and seeking for a place to be anonymous again. Forming virtual, virtual realities, where relationships can be ‘managed’ and ‘safer’.

Doc maps his three moralities to a market model with relationships as the foundation.

But relationship is what actually makes markets. I’m talking about real markets here: places where we do business and make culture.

You have to be generous in relationships.
I learned this from a Nigerian theologian named Sayo Ajiboye, by the way. Way back here.

Way back there, Doc quotes Sayo speaking about markets, life and meaning.

“Aiye Loja…” meaning “All of life is a market…”

Speaking about life as a market makes relationship the currency and a person’s life the bank. Bank isn’t such a good metaphor in this instance though as Banks aren’t exactly known for their giving, let alone giving generously. Maybe source is a better term, or essence.

Relationship is the essence of existence.

I’ve held that to be true for many years. Relationship is what our lives are about. If relationships work, life works. That’s why markets are miracles. They’re made up of the very substance that makes life work.

Ever since becoming aware of this phenomenon known as blogging and its related out workings in people’s lives, I’ve had a quote at the forefront of my thinking. Amazingly, it stems from a song written back at the time Doc was crossing paths with Sayo Ajiboye, 2001, but wasn’t credited as quoted until a couple years later.

“What I see happening in the face of all this darkness is something new in human spirituality, openness, some sense of our common destiny. We’ve got to keep nudging ourselves in the direction of good and respect for each other.” (Bruce Cockburn – Open)

As I touched on in my previous posts titled You can’t stop the signal and Audio of Linda Stone’s Supernova Address

Question left to discover is what will be the “adaptive behaviour” that will emerge to fulfil our desire of “being connected”? Will it be, as I touched on in my previous post, this concept of “openness”?

Is openness more than the outworking of a technological concept we are seeing in the form of web apps that “share”?

Is openness a cultures’ adaptive behaviour to enable what in essence we crave? relationship?

[tags]Nathan+Torkington, doc+searls, markets, signal, linda+stone, openness, Generous+Web[/tags]

9 thoughts on “Openness is more than an API

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