I have been writing about open source technology relatively frequently over the last year and have been a little surprised at its growing acceptance in the business enterprise. (Perhaps this reflects 10 years producing a magazine about Microsoft in financial services - Microsoft folks not being big fans of open source.)
So I was interested in an editorial by Jason Pontin in MIT's Technology review. Writing about an article in the magazine in which David Talbot reports on efforts to to make online video open, Pontin writes:
The innovations such openness would encourage are impossible to predict. Talbot quotes Chris Blizzard, director of technical evangelism at Mozilla, which develops the open Web browser Firefox: "Nobody is going to tell you they want something before it emerges--rather, the experience of the Web is: 'Holy Cow, I can do this other thing now!' Open standards create low friction. Low friction creates innovation. Innovation makes people want to pick it up and use it."
What's that famous line about Henry Ford - if he had asked people what they wanted in transportation they would have asked for a faster horse. Focus groups will take you only so far when it comes to innovation.
The open source video proponents think it would make it easier to mix and match bits of video and create Web links to specific moments in a video.
But I like that Pontin's point about reducing friction in technology to enable innovation.