Jonathan Rosenberg, Senior Vice President, Product Management at Google sent a long essay to the Google Product Managers and Engineers in an effort to put some clarity around the meaning of “Open” at Google. The well-written essay called “The Meaning of Open” ended up on the Google blog and is well worth reading.

Jonathan outlines Open at Google as …..

There are two components to our definition of open: open technology and open information. Open technology includes open source, meaning we release and actively support code that helps grow the Internet, and open standards, meaning we adhere to accepted standards and, if none exist, work to create standards that improve the entire Internet (and not just benefit Google). Open information means that when we have information about users we use it to provide something that is valuable to them, we are transparent about what information we have about them, and we give them ultimate control over their information. These are the things we should be doing. In many cases, we aren’t there, but I hope that with this note we can start working to close the gap between reality and aspiration.

and he goes on to make points like these ….

If we can embody a consistent commitment to open — which I believe we can — then we have a big opportunity to lead by example and encourage other companies and industries to adopt the same commitment ….

whenever possible, use existing open standards. If you are venturing into an area where open standards don’t exist, create them. If existing standards aren’t as good as they should be, work to improve them and make those improvements as simple and well documented as you can …..

We believe in the power of technology to deliver information. We believe in the power of information to do good. We believe that open is the only way for this to have the broadest impact for the most people. We are technology optimists who trust that the chaos of open benefits everyone. We will fight to promote it every chance we get ….

The future of government is transparency. The future of commerce is information symmetry. The future of culture is freedom. The future of science and medicine is collaboration. The future of entertainment is participation. Each of these futures depends on an open Internet ….

I give Jonathan credit for jumping in and offering an opinion and a direction for the Googler’s while at the same time welcoming comments and differences of opinion. I applaud the effort and feel that Google should lead by example. I also like the fact that Jonathan identified Open Information as well as Open Technologies because I feel that Open Information/Data is often missed in discussions about the Open Web.