Carolina Rossini is giving a Berkman talk abouut the preloilminaray conclusionss from Yochai Benkler’s Industrial Cooperation Project.

NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-emphasizing small matters. Paraphrasing badly. Not running a spellpchecker. Mangling other people’s ideas and words. You are warned, people.

The project looked at industries to see if they are moving to collaborative peer production. They looked at knowledge-embedded products: data, text, and tools. The key takeaway, she says: “The nature of the knowledge embedded product has an impact on the emergence of commons-based production.” This is relevant if you care about the emergence of commons-based production (or a knowledge governance system), in some sectors, you may have to have some kind of intervention in the market, and not wait for the organic emergence of CBP.

She goes through the research methodology: standardized observations across sectors and “a huge literature review.” How does innovation happen? What’s the effect of IP? etc. All of this will be open and available soon. From this came synthesizing papers and the ICP Wiki (open in September) where you can see the entire research process.

The main verticals studies: biotech, alternative energy, educational materials. These three are a cross-section of contemporary economy. It is not the more typical sector where you find the usual examples such as threadless.com.

Within alternative energy, the project looked at wind, solar, and see, because they are at different levels of maturity, a lot of patenting, complicate manufacturing and governance processes, and no evidence of commons based production. The academics have no incentives for sharing. Sharing is happening, however, in pre-product spaces, e.g., OpenEi, U.S. gov’t OpenLabs, and the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy. There is also the emergence of a DIY spirit among users, and there’s the Danish offshore wind industry is interesting. Prizes have been created to encourage CBP, and there have been attempts to cluster people to encourage collaboration.

Another vertical: educational materials. Here there’s lots of CBP. E.g., the Open Educational Resources Commons (which Carolina has long been involved with). Incumbents as well as start-ups are exploring new models, both open and closed. On the other hand, publishers are suing users now and then. Pres. Obama says he wants to invest OER, but there is no money around. On the other hand, the text book adoption process now accepts open textbooks, which Carolina says is a “huge huge turnaround.” There are also governmental interventions around the world, including in Brazil. There are also pushes toward closedness. E.g., Pearson is rethinking it’s strategy so that the end product isn’t a textbook but a new education model that includes assessment systems, exam models, etc. [Vertical integration strikes again! When your product becomes open or commoditized, it's one of the obvious business responses.] Does this lessen the importance of copyright for Pearson? The guy from Pearson that Carolina asked this question of just laughed.

In Biotech there’s a mix of CBP and closed practices. “Big science” shows the most evidence of CBP. The commons in gene sequences has helped, as does the fact that most big science happens through government investments, the data and text results of which are open by default (thanks to the Bermuda rules and the NIH Public access Policy). But there’s no evidence of commons-based industrial disruption in biological materials used as a research tools. This is due in part to the fact that VC’s who fund “translational research” like patents. The end products market has been the most resistant to commons-based effects. And patents are aggressively enforced. One result is that there can be conflicts. E.g., you can get a genomic profile from a company like 23andme, but if a woman wants to get a specific analysis

Summary: Biotech: some of the most open and closed practices. Alternative energy: not a lot of CBP and no sstructure for it. Educational material: intermediate in development of CBP.

If you want to see more CBP in these industries, we need interventions. Carolina doesn’t want to talk much about what is needed, but she points to a 2×2 (closed-open, regulated-unregulated) that shows the effect of government intervention in biotech: some companies left the market, but new open databases enabled other projects and new business models. [She shows the same chart for the other two sectors, but I can't capture them in text.]

There’s also the possibility of industry intervention. E.g., the danish offshore wind farmers needed to prove to the government that their industry is viable. There’s community pressure to share knowledge and not to patent. They organized around work teams, not companies; teams were cross-company, so patenting wasn’t possible. They were able to cooperate because they knew they could only solve the problems together.

Conclusion: It’s easy to find CBP within copyright-based materials. Industries with more complex manufacturing and distribution are more resistant. But even within them, you can find CBP within some of their processes. Within those resistant sectors, we should probably look for more commons-based sharing of knowledge, rather than in their core development processes — knowledge diffusion rather than innovation.

Q: What was most surprising?
A: Openness may not be the answer in every sector.

Q: Denmark’s team-oriented approach — does that mean that the teams have members from universities, companies, etc.?
A: They found a problem, they figured which companies had some relation to that problem — e.g., the cement for holding the towers — and they picked employees from a diversity of companies.

Q: When Paul Roemer talks about economic growth in terms of sharing recipes. The copyright industries have more openness than patent-based ones. Maybe that’s because copyright is about sharing documents and files, and the recipe is there. Maybe the obstacle is in how to write out the recipe…
A: Also, the copyright industries are dealing with more easily digitized products that can be more easily transformed and shared.

Q: Is the educational system doing what the music business has done: Product is commoditized, so they sell services. E.g., Verizon tells you that the music is free or cheap, but you pay for fast download, etc.
A: I see an easier parallel in software — customization, extension to make it work better for particular clients, etc. Now that’s being done for textbooks.

Q: How do you measure the impact of CBP on the development of an industry, especially compared to the effect of social networks, etc.?
A: You’re thinking about wikis, etc. We asked how the sectors are sharing knowledge, how much patenting, are there access issues, etc.

Q: Could this be delivered on a Google platform or Facebook? How people share info?
A: We didn’t focus on this, but a lot of people looking at how companies are sharing info. E.g., the Pfizer internal wiki. Also, the OpenEI.

Q: What does it mean to share? People chatting or contracting parties? Why would people want to share?
A: Buying is a way of sharing. There’s a gradient.

Q: Can you compare the Brazillian experiment with the US government’s?
A: In Brazil, the federal government buys all the textbooks for the public schools. They are now started to debate whether the gov’t should also buy the IP and make it available. In the US, we are putting money toward training the teachers. Pres. Obama has hired many leaders from the OER. But, there is no policy being pushed here for public access to educational materials because the fed gov’t is not the main buyer. But Texas and California are asking for more openness because it will reduce their costs.

Q: How is OER trying to create sustainable business models?
A: Most of the big projects in the US are supported by universities. Many are cutting funding, so these projects are going to foundations for money. They’re trying to find business models. Publishign on-demand. E.g., Flat World Knowledge is getting major authors and paying them better than traditional publishers; you have access to a free version online, but you can buy an iPad version, etc.

Q: Long term?
A: Biotech: We have mandates for openness, but the structure so dictates how the market works that I don’t see a lot of change there. Same in alternative energy. I hope they share more if the target is mitigation of climate change, but I don’t see that happening in practice. We’ll see in some changes. I think we’ll see more political debate around open access. And there will be some international agreements, probably in terms of more tech transfer.l Educational materials: Transitioning.