Why Being Open is Almost Always Better Than Being Closed

When faced with a choice whether to publish something in the open or circulate it privately, you will be better off in almost every case if you first publish in the open.

The only reason to circulate privately that comes to mind is that if you want to say something about a particular person. Though your opinion is of course you own, fairness requires you should give the person a chance to review your writing before publishing it openly.

I’m writing this post because earlier today I realized that I had privately circulated documents that should have been published openly, and I will do so as soon as I finish this post.

I’m looking for work. My last day at my last employer, IBM, was on February 26, 2009.

Towards that end I have submitted an application for employment to the following:

My application consisted of a resume and a trip-report about work as a volunteer to assist the world’s educators and librarians that was written in January 2008, on my return from attending a conference for black educators that was held near Dayton, Ohio, and then followed by a visit to a small company based in Detroir that, I truly believe, represents the best hope to bring the internet and its associated technologies to k12 classrooms to improve test scores in reading and mathematics.

I wrote the resume as a technical memo, assuming the audience would be familiar with my area of expertise, open-source development and the management of open-source activities for large enterprises. I decided to submit it privately lest some of the statements and claims that I had made would be miscontrued were I to publish it publicly.

I realized earlier today that this made no sense. The only way for the world to assess my resume, and so to offer the opportunity for others to rebut any of the claims and statements within it, is for me to publish it publicly, as I will shortly do.

I have recently made extensive use of LinkedIn (LI) to build a network. Having done so, I decided it would be useful to create a private network so that my friends and colleagues could access updated versions of the resume, and mainly so they could get to know each other.

I thus created an invitation-only social network “MeetDaveShields,” courtesy of Ning.

I then planned to post a series of short notes about each of the people who had graciously accepted my invitation so that members could easily other members with shared skills and goals, in the hope this would assist them in growing their own networks.

I had also planned to write recommendations for everyone in my network, giving credit where credit was due. I planned to first do this in the private network, and then to post the recommendations via LinkedIn.

I then realized this also made no sense. If I have something good to say about someone, there is no reason not to first do it publicly, though I do think as I have earlier noted, that they should be given a chance to review a recommendation before I publish it.

I wil thus open up “Meet Dave Shields” shortly.


1. The Gates Foundation does not accept resumes in HTML. Astounding!

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