by Gerry McGovern
Author, New Thinking
I believe that the importance and role of the 'individual' is vastly overrated in modern society. And this comes from someone who for a long time has been obsessed with individuality and my desire to stand out from the crowd.
I believe that the printing press, more than any other technology, encouraged the cult of the individual, and that the Internet has already shown that human co-operation is where it has always really been at.
I have long been fascinated by the saw 'geniuses steal, beggars borrow.' My interpretation of it is that genius knows what ideas to take and it takes them wholeheartedly. It then moulds and builds with those ideas, adding a small fraction of originality to create some new work. Beggars, on the other hand, are so obsessed with covering their tracks, are so worried that
their minds are not wholly original, that they are afraid to take and take, as they must, before they can build.
If you want to be a success in the Digital Age, then you must be able to wholeheartedly take and take, because the Internet is a garden of ideas, a flourishing meadow of possibilities.
Equally, your success will depend on your capacity to give and give. A contradiction? Not at all. The reason the Internet abounds with information, ideas and opportunities is because so many generous minds have already freely contributed to it. I tell you this: I have learned more on email discussion groups such as John Audette's Internet Sales than in all my years at college.
Every week for more than a year I have 'given away' my best ideas to the almost 4,000 people on our mailing list. What have I lost? Very little that I know of. What have I gained? Our company, Nua, has got new clients. We have reinforced relationships with existing ones. I have been asked to speak widely. I have hopefully put across the idea that Nua is a company
with quality people, with quality ideas.
According to a summary of a Chronicle of Higher Education article found in a recent edition of Edupage, "The National Academy Press has already put 1,700 of its books online, and is finding that the electronic versions of some books have boosted sales of the hard copy monographs -- often by two to three times the previous level. It's "great advertising," says the
Press's director. The MIT Press is experiencing similar results: "For each of our electronic books, we've approximately doubled our sales," a spokesperson stated.
One of the great pioneers of the Irish Internet is The Irish Times. They have offered much of their paper for free on their website for several years now. Has it hurt their circulation? The paper has currently 105,000 subscribers, up from roughly 90,000 a couple of years ago.
Why? Why does sharing make business sense? Because the Internet is a medium that is daily inventing and re-inventing itself. It is not so much about who has the ideas, but rather who is applying the ideas. The Internet pioneers don't mind telling you what they are doing today, because they know that it is what they are doing tomorrow that gives them the