This week after work I was hanging out on the curb by my building waiting for my wife to pick me up in our car. The sun was shining, and I was standing in the shade of a nearby tree. I was thinking through the events of the day. A coworker and I had been working through a difficult Web programming issue, and had been working at it for week or two. While I was imagining a solution, I had a bit of a “Zen” moment.
I have been reading Dr. Bonk’s newest book on factors that come together that are making our world open. In an open world, almost anyone can learn almost anything at almost any time of the day or night and from almost anywhere. In his book, Bonk discusses why this is so and the great opportunities it presents. The book is very personally motivating and is energetically written. It is hard not to absorb his positive outlook on the world. I find it hard to read more than 50 pages without going out and checking out the things that he discusses. He’s so excited about these new opportunities that his enthusiasm convinces me to see them and try them for myself. Anyway, back to my Zen moment.
There I was under the tree thinking about computer programming problems. I thought about how much of programming these days is done publicly (open source, or freely available on the Web). The Web programmers in our world, by and large, are open to sharing their knowledge and expertise online. Asynchronously I can just Google a problem I’m having and check out many different solutions and work my way to solving my own problem with help from other experts.
Now, my dream in life is to be a missionary and help people in other parts of the world. I’m getting this degree only because I think it might help me to do this. One skill I have to offer and share with the world is designing and developing for the Web. I could help others learn this skill and pass on this knowledge so that they can become self-sufficient knowledge creators and sharers. If I helped impoverished people to develop these kinds of skills and helped them to see opportunities in their world for growth, I could help them in a small way. This knowledge could really open their world. And that’s when it hit me: all this time I had been reading and rereading Bonk’s book on an open world, I had not really grasped at a visceral level what he meant by an open world.
Until that moment.
I now realized that the world is opened to those with whom knowledge and skills are shared. And that is what is happening in our world today. Learning resources are being shared on a grande scale. And this helps people in the third world by opening up their minds to a whole world of possibilities. If knowledge is power, then we give power by sharing our knowledge. We give the world to others. What an enterprise!