Networks & Collective Intelligence

How do Tapscott’s four principles for an open world relate to the social media activities you will practice in your profession after graduation?

According to the Canadian business executive and famous author Don Tapscott, today we are facing a new period of time, which opens up our world.

Since the advent of the internet and the “Web 2.0” we are facing many difficulties such as lacks of privacy or data criminality due to the technological changes and the use of social networking services.

Despite all the negative effects the connectivity might entails, in the TED Talk “four principles for the open world” Don Tapscott appeals to think differently and focus on possible advantages. Even though he describes himself as a “digital immigrant” he examines the positive influences an “open world” can have.

He states that our world is in trouble and that

“the current global situation is facing the ‘burning platform’ dilemma, where the cost of staying where we are right now is becoming greater than the cost of moving towards something different (…)“ [4 principles for the open world by „Steve“]

The talk is about the four principles for an open world, which are “Collaboration”, “Transparency”, “Sharing” and “Empowerment”.

Within the first principle “openness as collaboration” he describes how the boundaries between corporations and institutions open up and how companies now have to adapt to these changes. According to him, knowledge workers are the most important sources of intelligence and therefore an essential resource for institutions. Because of the never-ending “story” of craving for profit in the economical context, knowledge workers are needed. Especially in an opened-up world creativity and brain power are fundamental to increase profit.

The second principle “openness as transparency” deals with the rising lacks of privacy for institutions and companies:

“Institutions are becoming naked” [TED Talk minute 06:23]

Tapscott says the principle of transparency is about communication; institutions have to adapt to the increasing transparency and that they have to be prepared to be seen “naked” by the world.

Openness as sharing”, the third principle, expresses the need for institutions to “give up assets” and to start creating adequate business models. Tapscott appeals institutions to consider a reinvention of internal structures instead of using measures such as accusations to resist in an open world.

Last but not least the fourth principle “openness as empowerment” says that in an open world “knowledge is power”. Don Tapscott explains that today people should consider sharing their intelligence in order to support others and also to take advantage of the collective intelligence. Furthermore, he states that the world should create a global consciousness for intelligence and power.


To sum it up, Don Tapscott focuses on the transformation from our “troubled world” towards an open world, which will be formed by freedom and collaboration. He underlines that people need to “keep the pot boiling” and stay awake since the transformation in moving forward:

“The train has left the station” [TED Talk minute 12:05]

Responding to the tutorial question, how these four principles relate to the social media activities I will practice in my profession after graduation, I will examine the possible meaning every principle has for social media marketing.

After graduating I am planning to work in the fields of marketing and advertising, probably in a marketing agency.

I think Don Tapscott’s four principles are closely linked to the social media activities I will practice as a marketing professional in a few years.

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In relation to the principle “openness as collaboration” social media marketing will change in different ways. For a particular company, cooperation with as many institutions (from the same branches) as possible will be indispensable. In an open world there is a huge network where everyone can benefit from collaborating with each other. Therefore, social media marketing activities will be designed in order to create a huge global network.

The second principle “openness as transparency” will also change the social media activities in my profession: Due to the fact that everything, in particular institutions, become more transparent social media marketing professionals need to choose wisely the platforms where they share information. Also, there will be a need to constantly maintain the “image” of an institution or company because due to the transparency it is more likely to get into crisis.

The principles of “openness as sharing” and “openness as knowledge” relate to social media marketing activities in the way, that companies will take advantage of shared intelligence in the World Wide Web. Marketing professionals can share their thoughts and their creative considerations about particular topics to support others. Here we have a great example for a network effect: The more people share their ideas and knowledge in the Internet, the more people can take advantage of it. Therefore, the quality of the network will increase by the rise of shared intelligence.

In an open world where everything will be more transparent than it already is today, it will be even more important to know how to present a company in the digital world. In times where everything has become time and space independent, where information can be spread around the world within seconds, social media has become a new tool to create greater value.

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References and Reading List

Ted Talk: Don Tapscott: “Four principles for the open world”; June 2012

The Guardian: “How the children of the digital age will change the way we work”; Don Tapscott; November 8, 2008

The Guardian: “Q&A with Alan Rusbridger: the future of open journalism”; The Guardian editor’s Q&A; March 26, 2012

Economist: “Don Tapscott on mass collaboration”; November 24, 2010 “Book review: Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is changing the World, by Don Tapscott”; Roger Trapp; March 9, 2009;

SMR: “Still impressed with Tapscott’s message”; Guy St. Clair; February 18, 2013 “4 principles on the open world” by “Steve”; March 22, 2013 “How to survive in an open world”; Casey Brown, July 12, 2012

Sagejournals: “’Making the world more open and connected’: Mark Zuckerberg and the discursive construction of Facebook and its users”; Anna Laureen Hoffmann, Nicholas Proferes, Michael Zimmer; July 28, 2016

Quora: “When Facebook says they are making the world „more open and connected,“ what is the intended meaning of the word ‚open‘?

Wikipedia: “Collective Intelligence

Wikipedia: “Social Networking Service

Wikipedia: “Network effect

Wikipedia: „Knowledge worker


Digital Media & Society Script Week 7 Networks & Collective Intelligence” by Jeff Brand


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