05/27/2013 11:01 am ET Updated Jul 27, 2013

Nevermind the How... What Do I Share With Thee?

How do I share with thee? Let me count the ways...

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What do I share with thee and therein lays the question...

Once our only concern in sharing our deepest darkest secrets was whether or not our BFF had a big mouth or not.

Today, whether or not we actively share that secret, chances are that we have left enough digital clues for any respectable hacker or other to winkle it out given the reams of data that are collected about you by the channels we use to share.

Sharing is in our DNA -- it is a human trait -- and throughout history we have evolved newer and better and more efficient ways to share -- because it is what we do -- all of which brings us to the digital world that we live in where almost daily there is yet another new; quicker; more interesting and efficient way to share everything from your newest purchase to your most personal question and everything in between -- with text; pictures; video and even live.

I am obsessed with understanding sharing and the nexus of DNA and Digital and to that end my friend and teacher R'BH was kind enough to "learn" with me last week and taught me the following thoughts about sharing, which I have applied to my key question: What do I share with thee?

He broke sharing down into three categories -- three different ways to share -- and I found that each had resonance as we struggle with the what of sharing because of the digitally enhanced how.

  1. I share with you -- but I share on my terms alone -- meaning that you have to use what I share with you exactly as I do... exactly as I say.
  2. Think about that -- think about the digital "sharing" places that that won't let you in unless you agree to log-on; link-in or otherwise give up control over your own data

  3. I share with you first and you are part of a group -- a community -- I have to make sure that how I have shared with you is clear to all and I am required to share with others in your group in the same way -- no one gets better preference or access.
  4. A different view -- the sharing is for the one with whom it is shared. If ownership is access than you have set the definition of ownership -- I can't auction or premium price or otherwise artificially change the essential relationship -- it is yours to use as you see fit, and whatever limitations attached to its use are purely a function of who you are -- not me, the original sharer.

  5. I share with a whole group -- give all access at the same time -- I can't change the relationship I have with all because one might want more.

A third view -- a community has formed -- they agree on a set of sharing principals. I can't change that arbitrarily -- we all agreed up-front no small print changes allowed later -- unless we all agree.

All of the above describe different models of digital engagement. Think about them -- think about how those models impact your life or not and what the future might look like if any of those models changed. Think about how those companies monetize and how much of that monetization is off of your back, so to speak.

The hierarchy of the models is interesting to me.

Model one is where we seem to have landed -- the dictatorship of sharing -- yet the third is, I believe, the model that created the Internet -- the WWW -- the digital world we live in. And the second, wedged in between, is where most would like to be, I think, but its principles are no longer followed.

The vision was that if we shared information and knowledge through an open and egalitarian sharing, we would increase the wisdom of the world. Yet over the years the small print appeared and when we weren't looking the game changed and changed again. And wisdom became less important than somehow monetizing the sharing.

I really do believe that it's critical to understand the what of sharing and to apply the highest standards of business ethics and human morality to it.

Bottom line: all Digibabble aside -- the whole enterprise of the Digital Universe exists to share because we are social and not the other way around. Most importantly, sharing has to be win/win. Listen...

"If you have a candle, the light won't glow any dimmer if I light yours off of mine."
Steven Tyler

And there you have it. Digital sharing is all about lighting candles -- spreading the light. We all benefit -- or should. The goal is to have many candles to create lots of light -- not just one bonfire.

What do you think?