In one specialization, open means transparent. The OpenSociety is about making social decisions explicit, and from that transparency, rationality can begin to take control to change the structure of society to be more effective. A transparent society that has made social decisions explicit quickly makes social relationships explicit, and then rationalized. PersonalRelationships give way to RationalRelationship?s with AnIndividual. Thus, these societies defend against the PeckingOrder or other techniques of social exclusion. In particular, the fact that CommunityMayNotScale only really relates to a closed society; an open society can scale by putting relationsihp management into some machine (bureaucracy, computer, or otherwise).
OpenSource and OpenContent, on the other hand, relates to the pre-PrintCulture?, pre-IntellectualProperty view of information. This argument is a bit dubious, since more information was elicited under IntellectualProperty than before. But the argument is that IP somehow closes information from access. But again, it is about eliciting knowledge that otherwise is hidden behind access restrictions. On the Internet, when we have not only socialized distribution, but mechanized it, information is no longer relegated to the expense of manual copying in the ManuscriptCulture, but rather to the DigitalNetwork where it can spread of its own accord (InformationWantsToBeFree). Think about how PrintCulture? inverted the relationship of copying. In ManuscriptCulture, copies were made at the behest of TheAudience who wanted a copy. In PrintCulture?, they were made by TheAuthor, and TheAudience was forbidden from copying them--they were closed off from it. On the DigitalNetwork, the fundamental architecture of servers mean that copying is again driven by TheAudience, and so there is an structural force batting its head against this access restriction. Thus, the argument is not wholly off-based, even if it is poorly named.
The basic idea is the same, though: get the information out there, in the open.
Comments in italic summarize the specific context, maybe subjectively. To me O has become a hype word that lost most of its meaning. <polemic> Maybe soon there will be an "open burger" and Greyhounds renamed to "open bus". Always when I hear (too often) "of course, we are open for discussions" I really hear "we may not be able to avoid discussion, but we will not change our mind" </polemic>. -- HelmutLeitner