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The Latest Open Source Innovators: Nike and Best Buy?

| Friday July 31st, 2009 | 3 Comments

Nike and Creative Commons are not two organizations you’d typically hear in the same sentence. And especially not working together. Try, “…a project of Nike, Creative Commons, and Best Buy.” That’s what GreenXchange is. Here’s a video laying the groundwork:

GreenXchange is a part of CC’s Science Commons project. As in other Creative Commons efforts, this is about sharing knowledge so that others can create new works based on this knowledge, building upon it in ways that weren’t anticipated by the originator. The GreenXChange website goes into some depth as to the how and why the acceleration of sustainable innovation is important and possible, but these three sentences from their pdf on the project sum it up quite well, in a way that the most tight fisted businesses can understand:

When we waste time solving the same problem, we waste money.

When we improve incrementally what could be improved exponentially through shared resources, we waste resources.

When we fail to capitalize on the economies of scale between us, we waste opportunity.

What exactly do they intend to do here?

That’s still to be determined, as this is still in the formation process, but at the base of it, it’s use the dispersed, asynchronous nature of the internet to facilitate everybody from major corporations to individuals making use of and building on one another’s discoveries, ideas, concepts, and patents, finding use for them in industries perhaps far afield from where they started.

Yes I said sharing patents.

This could be achieved by what’s called a non-assertion, which according to the Wikipedia article on it, “…can specify the release of only certain patent rights or fields of use, or it can be broad and specify release for entire patent families, including future inventions in a certain area. Public statements effectively place rights to patents, or elements thereof, into the public domain.”

Basically, participants in GreenXchange can make as little or as much of their intellectual property available to others to make use of.

Now you may be thinking, as I am, haven’t I heard this before? Hasn’t there been other grand online platforms for collaboration been put forth, such as Design 21, WiserEarth and the like? What’s been their effect? How effective have their models been? What’s worked well? What will the Creative Commons model bring to the arena of high level sustainability innovation? Will Nike and Best Buy being founding participants give this more weight and momentum, or will they weight it down?

Only time will tell. What’s your thoughts on this? Let’s talk, below. Creative Commons are looking for your input and interest in this. You can reach them at science@creativecommons.org

Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio School of Management in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations around, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media. Who he has and wants to work with includes consumer, media, clean tech, NGOs, social ventures, and museums.


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