Don't eat your ecosystem! Tim O'Reilly takes the stage at PICNIC Festival 2012 and teaches us to share.

PICNIC Festival Day 2: Tim O'Reilly...

Photo credit: Jonne Seijdel

Create more value than you capture. Build things for the love of it, and as a result jobs will emerge. Make the world a richer and fairer place... On first sight, rather idealistic or even utopian quotes. But coming from keynote speaker Tim O'Reilly they seem to make some sense.

O'Reilly points out some instances of the emerging 'sharing economy' are already successfully at work. For example, the community developing open source software, without which Facebook could have never been built. Or crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, which enables people to create new stuff just for the love of it. Even YouTube doesn't charge their community of content creators and actually helps artists earn money by detecting copyrighted content in videos and paying a fee for it.

The alleged founder of the term ‘Web 2.0’ compares what's happening on the web to lessons learned from Wall Street. In O'Reilly's view, Wall Street used to be an enabler of value for everyone. But people got so focused on capturing value for themselves and their shareholders that they have eaten their own ecosystem. The current crisis shows we have reached the limits of a system in which value is being created for your own wealth, happiness or success. Despite its promises, even the 'social web' is not necessarily improving the world, unless we start sharing as much as we extract from it.

O'Reilly's message to the value creators of the world is to remember the ecosystem they were built on. But this doesn't just apply to corporations who hoard value for themselves. We all have something to contribute in the sharing economy. So O'Reilly poses the question: “How do you improve the lot of other people in your life?”

Contributed by Suze Krijnen

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