Open source makes credibility your key asset

What is true for us is also true for you. For your company, for your projects, for your future. Credibility is the coin of the realm.

Doc Searls is a friend of mine.

I'm quite proud of that. Doc edits Linux Journal, so on my beat he's a player, and you want sources to know you, to trust you.

But he's not known for that, nor for his appearances on CNN, CNBC, or Sirius Satellite.

No, Doc admits, he's mainly known for his blog. And this is curious, he says, because it "rarely gets more than a few thousand unique visitors per day -- and is sometimes down in the hundreds."

So the topic for today is, what makes for influence in an open source world? What makes one person a player, and another a wannabe?

On my personal blog I tried to break this down into an equation -- AxQxC=IM, where A represents the size of your audience, Q the quality of that audience, and C the credibility you have with that audience. The resulting number I called an Internet Multiplier, but perhaps I should have called it Internet Credibility instead.

Because that's what we're talking about. And it's important for corporations, for projects, for institutions, as well as for people. Credibility is something we talk about in journalism all the time. You can't buy it. You build it, over time, and you can destroy it at a stroke. That's why corrections are so important, hopefully corrections made in the same location as the error. (You can do that online.)

What goes into credibility? Honesty, intelligence, and transparency all go into it. As Potter Stewart said memorably on another subject, you know it when you see it.

Everyone here at ZDNet works hard to build our credibility with you, as individuals and collectively. It's what we live on. It's the only real asset we have.

The lesson, however is this. What is true for us is also true for you. For your company, for your projects, for your future. Credibility is the coin of the realm.

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