Open…but Not Quite.

29 Sep

One of the Internet’s scariest, yet most powerful, innovations has been trusting users as co-developers.

The strength of Wikipedia and review sites like Trip Advisor and Yelp is that they rely on ordinary people.  The very people who are using the websites also provide the content for the websites.  Trusting people at this level can be challenging.

Apple took a modified approach with their App store.  They trust people to create applications.  But they also police which ones are made available to the public.  This “open-but-not-quite” policy relaxes control of a product without diluting the brand name. 

I tend to be black and white. I like things open or closed. At least that’s what I think I like.

The truth is that we all live in this “open…but not quite” realm.  We open ourselves up to criticism, we share insights about ourselves with others, but most of us don’t share everything with everyone.  We are open…but not quite.

Most of us won’t jump into karaoke. But we sing lullabies to our babies, we hum along to the car radio, we indulge in shower-soloes.  Open…but not quite.

We watch extreme sports on our TVs and read inspirational stories of those who achieve the impossible and we watch movies cheering for the underdogs.  And then we look both ways crossing the street and buy extra hand sanitizer just in case.  Open…but not quite.

We hug and kiss and dance and cry and toast but only with long-unseen friends or romantic partners or far away family and only because we are celebrating or grieving or some other mood very high or low on the pendulum.  Never just because it is Thursday and it is raining and we are both here.  Together.  Open…but not quite.

We live in the gap between open and closed, free and censored, naive and erudite.  We will probably always live within these gaps, in these in-between-spaces.  But we can choose how open and to whom and why. And we can try and retain all control ourselves or we can begin to trust others as our co-collaborators, our co-developers, our co-owners of this space.

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One Response to “Open…but Not Quite.”

  1. Meg September 30, 2011 at 12:00 am #

    Thank God we don’t have to hug people every time we see them!

    (and also I liked the other parts of the essay)

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