How much will smart people really share?

I am watching two online efforts to see how they evolve because I am interested to see how much smart people will really share. There is a protectiveness bred in us through school to protect our intellectual property that may impact how these efforts blossom.

First, Carmun is a place for the academic community to “work faster” and to “share knowledge.” Founder Jonathan Edson asks participants to “Imagine an academic community where you can tap into the intellectual horsepower of students around the country or even the world. ” He hopes the Carmun community will work by “expanding the boundaries of universities by creating a database of rated and reviewed source material.” I hope so, too, but have concerns about how much the competitive nature of academics and academia will influence the effort.

A while back I mentioned Open Planner, an attempt to link teachers as professional curriculum planning teams. According to the site: “By harnessing collective wisdom, curricula authored on Open Planner have the potential to build their quality and support repositories in a way that no individual teacher could accomplish alone.” Theoretically, teachers should be able to do that with their colleagues in their institutions, however, department power issues can interfere pure sharing. Open Planner can offer a venue for enrichment not available face to face.

If academics and teachers can’t really share, I don’t think it is because of their inherent selfishness, but rather I believe it is because of the competitive climate in which they work. This is not to discount the competitive nature of business, or government or any other field. The competitive nature of education, however, is particularly influential on the growth of knowledge. While competition fosters creativity and persistence, it also impedes the sharing of information that could make all research more productive.

Let’s see how that balancing act effects Carmun and Open Planner.

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Filed under Classic, Just thinking

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