One of the many things that has been fundamentally changed by the Internet is how we treat information.  I grew up in an era when information represented power. Those who had information had power and withholding information was a key to maintaining power. There was a natural tendency to hoard information and not freely share what you knew.

Enter the Internet and the Gift Economy.

For a variety of reasons the information/power equation has changed.  There is now more power in sharing information than keeping it to yourself.  It took me a long time to recognize this.  I was an economics major back in the 1970’s and we focused exclusively on the monetary economy and the idea of scarcity.  Everything was a zero-sum game, including sharing information and knowledge.  The Internet has changed all this and the gift economy, reputation economy and attention economy are again relevant.  There is now real power in sharing.

Which brings me to the Altimeter Group.

As anyone knows who has seen me speak, I regularly reference the great people at Altimeter.  There are many familiar names including Charlene Li (author of Groundswell and Open Leadership), Jeremiah Owyang (whose blog Web Strategy is simply the most important resource I have), and most recently Brian Solis (author of  Engage). Their experience, analysis and expertise are all first-rate. But what separates Altimeter from others is their willingness to share.

Altimeter operates under the the principles of Open Research which Wikipedia defines as “research conducted in the spirit of free and open source software.  Much like open source schemes that are built around a source code that is made public, the central theme of open research is to make clear accounts of the methodology, along with data and results extracted there from, freely available via the Internet.”

So not only does Altimeter do world class research and analysis, they freely share this knowledge. I have found more relevant information and insight from Altimeter than any other source, by far.   Some of my favorite reports  include:

  • How Corporations Should Prioritize Social Business Budgets
  • Career Path Of The Corporate Social Strategist
  • Social Marketing Analytics: A New Framework For Measuring Results In Social Media

And for my friends in higher education, the research being done at Altimeter is almost always applicable to our work. I know that saying that higher ed is a business will ruffle the feathers of many of my academic friends, but the sooner we come down from our Ivory Tower and understand the environment we now live in, the sooner we can address the many problems we face in higher ed.

The times have changed.  Hoarding information no longer gets you ahead.  Sharing is what matters. I strongly recommend that you follow the work being done at Altimeter and take full advantage of their open research.

Again, kudos to Altimeter for sharing their wisdom. Now if we could just get higher education to follow the open research model. I’ll save that rant for another day.