TEDGlobal: Net opens up era of radical openness

TED logo,  copyright TED The tagline for this year's TEDGlobal is radical openness

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Author Don Tapscott has opened the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh predicting a new era of "networked intelligence".

The theme at this year's conference, dedicated to technology, entertainment and design, is "radical openness".

Mr Tapscott interpreted this as a call-to-arms for corporations to work in more open ways.

Elsewhere Nato Supreme Allied Commander Europe James Stavridis urged a new era of "open-source security".

Starlings

Mr Tapscott is an adviser to governments around the world on the social impact of technology and author of a string of books about the digital economy.

He told the TEDsters, as delegates at the conference are known, that institutions needed to act more like starlings.

"A group of starlings is known as a murmuration. There is leadership but no leader instead huge collaboration and interdependence," he said.

He gave examples of how companies are starting to see the business value in sharing previously closely-guarded data.

So gold mining firm Gold Corp opened up a set of its geological data to the net and offered a half-million dollar prize fund to anyone who could "find gold". The winner, a 3D mapping firm, offered a new way of viewing the landscape.

Pharmaceutical companies, currently hanging off "the patent cliff", could also benefit from sharing the data from clinical trials, he said.

"Social media is becoming social production," said Mr Tapscott.

A new approach to intellectual property is desperately needed, he added.

"The music industry took a technology disruption and sought a legal solution. Now they are suing children and are in danger of collapse." He warned that greater transparency in corporations was happening whether or not they wanted it.

"Institutions are becoming naked as people develop powerful tools to find out what is going on in them. Wikileaks is the tip of the iceberg," he said.

Finally, he said, corporations needed to give more power to their employees.

"The idea that employees can only tweet on pre-defined subjects is absurd," he said.

Tweet for peace

Also revealing himself as a fan of Twitter was Adm James Stavridis, Nato Supreme Allied Commander Europe.

He closed the first session of the TEDGlobal conference with an invitation to everyone to become his friend on Facebook.

Adm Stavridis, who regularly tweets and blogs, spoke of the need for greater dialogue and partnerships between public and private sectors.

He said that 21st century national security could "not be delivered solely from the barrel of a gun".

Offline partnerships, such as US troops teaching Afghan security forces to read or US navy ships offering medical services to the local communities, needed to be complemented with online dialogues on social networks, he said.

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