A lot has been written on the ups and downs of open source software and movements and building on that philosophy, the topic of open source content in education (not umbiased I linked to 'old' - read March 2003 - comprehensive article on the topic by George Siemens and building on a discussion with Stephen Downes. I believe in open content sharing) . But fear for sharing keeps existing in the hearts of a lot of people.
This topic of sharing content rekindled because I attended a 'writers day' (basically a day in which you could choose to augment your writing skills). During the day many people raised the question "What if I send my manuscript/column/text to a publisher and that publisher gives the idea to another writer?" Many beginning writers seemed to be afraid that their work would be kidnapped. My friend replied to them: “as long as people think their idea is brilliant and they do not want to share it, they are no thread to me”, I can only agree.
So here are ten reasons why I think sharing is winning
Keeping your idea to yourself will kill it
Say you have a world changing idea, you do not know how to mold it into something useful, so you keep it to yourself hoping you will get the means to develop it one time or another. That idea will either be picked-up by someone else (ideas float through space, anyone can pick them up and develop them) or it will die. Nevertheless, it is a sad result.
Going for an idea will make you smarter
No matter if the new idea will work out, you will have learned a lot anyway. Ideas can look fantastic, but trying to develop them can be a painstaking process that has some result at best (ideas are not always useful – unfortunately). How do you know an idea has potential? By either relentlessly going for it because you belief in it (think Edison) or by discussing it to an amazing extend with people who’s views you value (think Plato). Afraid your partners in the discussion will run away with your ideas? Stay cool, just say to yourself “Who is mad enough to belief in it as much as I do?”
No one is brilliant
No one person is brilliant. No one has ever been brilliant, not even the greatest minds (Newton, Marie Currie…). They all build on the knowledge of others. Of course they were great minds, but it was not the idea that was going to make them cross into a new scientific frontier, it was their analytical thinking, there vision. And a vision never just floats in space, it is built on past ideas, simple things your mind is superimposing on.
Great ideas arise all over the world
If an idea comes into your head, you can bet you are not alone with the idea. Both Steven Jobs and Bill Gates saw a niche, but the one with the best (diverse) network won the (economic) race.
Informal learning is on the rise, for this you need to share
Locking content behind doors prevents people from informal learning or increasing their personal learning space. If your network is deprived of knowledge, your network and yourself will loose out.
Let go of your ego for the better good: give your too difficult idea a chance to live
You might have a great idea, but no means to go for it. You either post your idea, send it out into the world or you try and find like-minded people that might be able to help you. Nevertheless sharing will give extra energy to the idea and its development. As Blanche Dubois said in ‘A streetcar named Desire’ “You can always rely on the kindness of strangers” and I like that thought.
Sharing ideas is like sharing peace and energy
Looking at ways to fuel positive brain functions seems to me much more interesting than promoting the idea of improving. Sharing ideas is like building good karma, giving is good.
Even if some of your ideas get taken: let go of that frustration. If you are indeed a creative mind, more ideas will come. No matter what age, where you live, … your time will come.
Sharing knowledge is what brought humanity to where it is today
Networking, discussing, sharing and non-sharing build our history and made scientific evolution possible (or not depending on the era). I wrote on some of the ethical issues of sharing a couple of months ago during the CCK08.
A brain likes to play, so do not stop it
If you keep an idea and protect if from others, your brain will most probably not be that thrilled. A brain likes to think, likes to share. So if you keep your knowledge closed up, why should your brain search for a new thrilling idea? It's like kids, if you stop creativity, they just stop all together and become passive. For me I need to feel the playfullness of my brain, it keeps me happy.
So I share my ideas gladly with anyone and I like to pick-up other ideas as I go along. Feel free to add additional benefits of sharing ideas and knowledge.
And to top it off... the tenth reason: it even gives you an advantage over your competitors says Jason Fried of 37 signals.