Monday, January 16, 2006

Open Source Networking

We all utilize in our verbal communications words and phrases that have multiple meanings, are unclear, or have been hijacked to have specific but inappropriate meanings. These words are often referred to as “code words”. In our communications we need to be careful not to abuse language in creating code words or to use phrases that will be misinterpreted.

One such word that has come into such a code realm is networking. When we use the word networking, do we mean building a collaborative network? Do we mean introducing person A to person B? Do we mean suggesting that person A contact person B? Do we mean building our own social network?

As so many have abused the concept, for many networking has become a negative practice. What does networking really mean? If it can be used both to describe using contacts to achieve a personal ends as well as to describe collaborative behavior, then we need to make clear each time we use the word what it means. Either that or not use the word but use a word or phrase which will more appropriately describe what is intended.

What we say may clearly mean one thing to a certain group of people but something else entirely to another. Such a phrase is Open Source. Those in the information technology field understand it fairly well, economic development professionals in another way, and the general public not at all. The general public may try to interpret it looking at the words open and source but what comes out is not what is meant.

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