Individuals and organizations must discover new ways
of conducting the business of e-knowledge if they are to achieve
order-of-magnitude leaps in the capacity to share knowledge. The
essence of these new approaches is embodied in the sub-cultures,
capabilities, and dynamics of the Internet. Broadly speaking, most
of us can identify two key cultural elements that contribute to
the development of the Internet:
- A transactional, financially-driven culture of business and
- A freewheeling, informal, individual- and community-driven culture.
In the world of software development and distribution,
this culture expresses itself in polarities such as proprietary
versus open source systems. This tension will not find
an easy resolution and will likely continue. In addition to the
need to satisfy cultures, there is a bottom-line technical requirement
for the e-Knowledge Industry to flourish: the user must be able
to share data and applications must work across technology platforms.
In a word, what is needed is interoperability.
From a more scholarly analysis, Manuel Castells identifies
four key Internet sub-cultures: the techno-meritocratic
culture, the hacker culture, the virtual communitarian culture,
and the entrepreneurial culture.
Together they contribute to an ideology of freedom
that is widespread in the Internet world. (Castells, 2001).
This analysis is important because it also places emphasis on culture
as a driver of change. Furthermore, Castells makes the point that
the cultural roots of the Internet are deep and will shape commercial
The Internet was born at the unlikely
intersection of big science, military research, and libertarian
culture . . . all the key technological developments that led to
the Internet were built around government institutions, major universities,
and research centers. The Internet did not originate in the business
world. It was too daring a technology, too expensive a project,
and too risky an initiative to be assumed by profit-oriented organizations
. . . the culture of the Internet is rooted in the scholarly tradition
of the shared pursuit of science, of reputation by academic excellence,
of peer review, and of openness in all research findings, with due
credit to the authors of each discovery. Historically, the Internet
was produced in academic circles, and in their ancillary research
units, both in the heights of professional ranks and in the trenches
of graduate student work, from where the values, the habits, and
the knowledge diffused into the hacker culture.