It’s been five years since I wrote a manifesto called, 'What Is Open Source Marketing?' where I tried to hint at a different view of media based on the trends emerging at the time. My main suggestion was that the, ‘love affair between big brands and mainstream media is over,’ and that the Open Source Movement gave an idea about where we might all be heading. Namely, into a people-powered, super-collaborative world where only the only way to garner meaningful attention was to offer channels through which people could participate with your brand. Unsurprisingly, some of these observations proved to be correct while others were overblown. Vast open networks where people can collaborate in whichever way they wish have miraculously appeared. However, TV networks remain just as powerful, albeit without some of the kudos, and have largely resisted any change - to date. Meanwhile, the marketing industry has roadtested a gazillion 'open' campaigns, with varying degrees of success. On the positive side there is the most overly-used, yet still rather dreamy, example of marketing openness, Nike+, a largely open platform where people upload detailed personal information about their running lives to a massive American corporation in exchange for community. The benefits of ‘openness’ to the sports giant have been considerable as explained by Nike-dude Roberto Tagliabue shortly after its launch: 'As of February, 2008, Nike+ members have run over 50,000,000 miles, logged over 14,000,000 runs and issued over 450,000 challenges. We created the world’s largest running club at nikeplus.com. 40% of community members who didn’t own Nike+ ended up buying. That is pretty tangible.' And on the less splendid side, there is Walmart’s social network - The Hub. Only ten weeks after the big launch, the site was shut down after a poor reception because it seemed no one wanted to give this other massive American corporation any information about themselves at all. (In fact I don’t think there’s any mystery here. The Nike brand was already part of grassroots running communities everywhere, whereas Walmart were seen to be paying lip service). Which all begs the question why do some open projects work and some do not? Clearly there has been no shortage of debate on this subject online over the past few years. However, I thought the blog post by Jono at Mozilla Labs offered a succinct critique - ‘Openness is a lot of work’. He observes that overuse of the ‘open’ label has meant that, ‘people are starting to attribute near-magical powers to it.' Furthermore, 'Openness is a policy choice, not a replacement for old-fashioned hard work. I happen to think it’s a good policy choice in many cases: An organization that is open to outside ideas and criticism will learn faster about its own mistakes. It can build more trusting relationships with its users, because it doesn’t have to keep secrets. It attracts self-motivated contributors, and it get more diversity of viewpoints. There’s that old mantra about how, ‘with enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow’”. Jono then decries the rise of some marketing crowdsourcers who assume that just the act of setting up a blog will bring Nike+ style benefits to any project, when the more likely outcome is virtual tumbleweed and awkward client briefings as an analysis of the participants reveals a list of agency friends and family. ‘Successful open organizations aren’t just unorganized mobs,’ he notes. However, it seems that lessons are being learnt. I put up a Tweet about Jono’s blog post this week and a very lively, little meme began, powered by people who seemed all too well aware, maybe after difficult experiences in the area, of the challenges that ‘openness’ represents for a marketing industry that still prefers to pay than earn.