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  • Feb 5, 2010


Silicon Valley’s Love for Information Sharing

What’s Beyond Web 2.0?
It’s been a while since Sramana Mitra has defined “Web 3.0”. She predicted that the next generation of Web technology would aim to integrate a variable “Place” with Content, Commerce, Community, Context, Personalization, and Vertical Search. And the trends are increasingly bearing out that description.

Nowadays, for example, you search for a local (community) car dealer near you. You see the locations on maps, and you can drive there instantly. But if I were a customer, I would need more information.

Applying Social Media & Geo-Location Tools
For example, even after Toyota’s ecall news, suppose I am still interested in the gray color the Prius with a sun roof. I want to test drive it to make sure that the pedal problem is fixed.  I want the best deal. Which dealers have the exact car in stock? I don’t want to waste my time driving around to dealers on the map to find the answer to my question.

According to Sramana, the “place” variable is more than just location, but it shows where ‘things’ and ‘places’ are that you are searching for through GPS. Then people want to take actions. They want to visit the place and make a purchase or dine out after they search “Place”.

So people want to be sure that they do not waste time when they visit these places. They want to know inventories, available spots, menus, and other information when they search for their target places.

The Open Source Era
As these data became accessible by the general public,  it will get difficult  to draw a line between trade secret and public information. If a competitive company gets the data of your inventories and prices, it can take an advantage of them. They may offer a lower price of the same item or they may promote an item in different colors which you don’t have.

Suppose you want to protect your website code from viewers, then you need to hide the “View Source” option. If you want to disclose anything to a certain group of people, you could send out passwords and log-in names. But it prevents timely interaction and people may not want to go through the trouble of getting login information.

Open Information Speeds Up Innovation
It is said that Silicon Valley has a spirit of sharing information, reflected in its very high employee mobility rate. They also move within a small geographic area. And people talk! So it is realistically hard to keep trade secrets. Even Apple has been relatively unsuccessful in fully hiding its next major product release up to a year in advance.

In addition, it is said that Silicon Valley does not appreciate people suing former employees over trade secret violations.  So it seems that the Silicon Valley’s love for sharing information is likely to prevail, which in turn helps drive innovation at an ever faster speed.

Photos by xwelhamite and rnair


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