Phillip Smith

I believe in Open. Can you help me promote it?

Thoughts on "The two-by-two of Open." Version Two.

I passionately believe in Open, but I need your help to sell my case to the rest of the New Internationalist co-operative. You see, each year the co-op determines the subject of the next ten issues of the magazine at an annual general meeting, and they do it in a very co-op-y way, with lots of discussion, and consensus-building, and then -- when that all fails -- by direct democracy. Its a beautiful thing to watch.

About a month ago, the editors posted to the NI blog asking for input on this year's issues. There were lots of great ideas posted, and many more e-mailed in, and many that are surely circulating within the co-op itself. But I believe in Open, and I feel passionately that the talented editors at New Internationalist would be able to do the subject justice (social justice, that is). And I want to see the ideas of "Open," reach the hundreds of thousands of people that read New Internationalist in print, and online.

Unfortunately, I've left it to the last possible minute to prepare a proposal on what I'm calling "The Open Issue." The Open Issue would expose readers to the ecosystem of interconnected movements that share an ethos of "openness." It would explore what has become a global movement to make better software, knowledge, education, citizens, and -- at some level -- society. The annual meeting starts this Thursday, and I need your help to get the proposal in tip-top shape before then.

The challenge is simple: Deliver a 1-page, preferably shorter, proposal by Thursday.

The proposal should:

  • Explain the concepts: free and open-source software, and open knowledge, politics, medicine and so on;
  • Demonstrate the importance: Speak to how these movements are impacting society (both positively, and negatively) and what the future might hold;
  • Provide some examples: And, most importantly, demonstrate how these movements are connected to the concerns of those in the Majority World.

Help me explain these concepts -- from local to global; from grasstops to the grassroots -- and, more importantly, help me distill them down. What started as a short proposal has grown (literally overnight) into something of an essay.

So, in the spirit of openness, I thought I would post the proposal online so that you can help me distill a broad concept into one single page. You'll find the full text of the proposal here.

Feel free to:

  • Post your thoughts and comments below;
  • Or -- if you have a Google account -- you can edit the document directly, using this link;
  • Alternately, you can make a copy and send me your edits. (E-mail them to my first name at newint dot org.)

When you're reading it, maybe you could keep these questions in mind:

  • What are significant areas of activity or movement that I've missed, or could expand on?
  • What's just babble and can be removed entirely?
  • What is vibrant and alive in the Majority World "open" movement that could be highlighted? Or what will have the most impact on the Majority World going forward?

Look forward to your helpful comments, ideas, and edits.

[UPDATE: Many thanks to feedback from several of you, I've been able to submit a fairly solid preliminary version to the co-op (as long as they make an exception for it being so late!). Pleases keep the input coming!]


Hi, I'm Phillip Smith, a veteran digital publishing consultant, online advocacy specialist, and strategic convener. If you enjoyed reading this, find me on Twitter and I'll keep you updated.


Want to launch a local news business? Apply now for the journalism entrepreneurship boot camp

I’m excited to announce that applications are now open again for the journalism entrepreneurship boot camp. And I’m even more excited to ...… Continue reading