Book Review – Wikinomics Explains How New Forms of Collaboration Change Everything

November 23, 2007 at 7:58 pm Leave a comment

You know it and everybody you know knows it; wiki based collaboration is revolutionary. We were all waiting for the official research that underscores this very fact. Guess what; the wait is over. A book about the issue has just been published.

Just like its subject matter, the book’s title is hardly surprising; Wikinomics. How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything. In a publicity stunt, its authors, Don Tapscott, who runs a think tank called New Paradigm and Anthony D.Williams, a specialist in trends in technology and society, invited people to suggest subtitles online. Within 24 hours they had received floods of replies.

Entries included ‘Chennai: We the people’, ‘Business, the remix’, ‘The dividends of collective genius’, ‘The power of us’, ‘Peer producing the future’, ‘Please register to participate’, ‘Your input needed here’, ‘Profiting from collective anarchy’, ‘Harnessing the power of your peers’, ‘The new world of collaborative production.’

If anything, these descriptions are indicative of the enthusiasm that the writers no doubt inspire. Wikinomics might not reveal information that is all that earthshattering for anyone that is slightly with the times, but it confirms undeniably that people simply are upbeat about being connected to others.

The book deals with wealth creation by the billions of ‘connected individuals’ who are actively participating in innovation and social development. What their own very valuable contribution is to this issue is their description of the new ways in which this takes place.

Which they describe as ways that we once only dreamed of. “In the last few years, traditional collaboration—in a meeting room, a conference call, even a convention center—has been superceded by collaborations on an astronomical scale”, the writers say. “Today, encyclopedias, jetliners, operating systems, mutual funds, and many other items are being created by teams numbering in the thousands or even millions. While some leaders fear the heaving growth of these massive online communities, Wikinomics explains how to prosper in a world where new communications technologies are democratizing the creation of value” , the writers tell people. It is a salient message.

So what about the term Wikinomics itself? The authors define it as the ‘new art and science of collaboration’. Wikinomics has almost magical aspects to it, if you believe them. It is more than open source, social networking, so-called crowdsourcing, smart mobs, or crowd wisdom.

Wikinomics is about ‘deep changes in the structure and modus operandi’ of the corporation and the economy, “based on new competitive principles such as openness, peering, sharing, and acting globally”.

The last chapter of the book, Wikinomics Playbook, is going to be an ongoing affair; it is written by readers. You can read current contributions here.

Too positive? Listen to an NPR broadcast about the book. The BBC has also reviewed the book.

Entry filed under: Green News.

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