I just read an interesting article on how Best Buy can “be saved” by open source thinking. To quickly paraphrase the article – it would be nice if Best Buy got into helping their customers be better user of their purchases, which in today’s world often means helping them become producers. And Best Buy could benefit by offering a platform for customers to share tips, tricks and training with each other – create a community of tech users – or as the author says, makers.
The article caught my eye for two reasons. First, Best Buy is a Minnesota company. Second, the idea of Radical Openness, especially for makers, was a big theme at TED Global this year with speakers such as Massimso Banzi of Arduino (an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software). It was also a big theme at the Dublin Science Gallery, which I always think has a good perspective.
I wanted to share the article because I think the author is right…
We have the skill and know how to turn around the economy if we’d just use more open source thinking.
Another speaker at TED Global, Eddie Obeng, spoke about reacting to a world that no longer exists. The problem is that we have our regular ways of doing things from education to running a business – but the regular ways are based on rules and relationships built in the last century. For example, in the last century we were customers or consumers; we are becoming producers and makers. Consumers may want to be spoon fed a solution; makers want to create it themselves – they want open source solutions.
I think the businesses, schools and communities that recognize this change will succeed in this century.
So what does this have to do with broadband?
The broadband infrastructure and broadband policy in the US are built on the idea that most of us are consumers – not producers or makers. The Minnesota broadband plan aims for 10-20 Mbps downstream – but 5-10 Mbps up. The National Broadband Plan (second tier goal) is 4 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up. That may suit consumers – but it’s going to limit makers, which will put us at a distinct disadvantage competing with other makers around the world.