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Think of this book more as reporting of where the world was in 2005 than analysis and direction for the future. But Wikinomics is a helpful resource to have, for most people are unaware of the extent to which self-organization through mass communication is being developed. Some of the successes are spectacular like the Goldcorp contest to locate more gold (which I described in The Ultimate Competitive Advantage in 2003) and Procter & Gamble's astonishing efforts to acquire technology from outside the organization (which I describe in The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution).

The strength of the book is that several different aspects of on-line mass collaborations are developed including:

1. Open collaborations to produce collective results not owned by anyone including Wikipedia and Linux.

2. Accessing more expert knowledge through idea markets (such as Goldcorp and P&G have done).

3. Customers being able to participate in detailed customization past what the vendor facilitates (basically a blurring of company-customer boundaries).

4. Knowledge transfer among the scientific community.

5. Methods of opening access to partners, especially for complementary software development.

6. Global production methods.

7. New ways of facilitating work in combination with those outside the organization.

If you are like me, you'll learn about some examples that you didn't before and find yourself feeling better informed.

The book has two annoying qualities that you should be aware of. First, the authors are very generous with each other in giving credit for ideas generated in the nondigital world by others. Second, there is a gushiness about the potential that isn't nuanced enough to reflect the problems that need to be solved. As a result, the inexperienced reader will get a sense that each opportunity is equally easy to grasp. That's clearly not true. In addition, the psychology of where which approaches will and won't work are mostly alluded to rather than developed. Building mass collaboration around enlightened self-interest is quite different from doing so built around more purely altruistic purposes.

I suspect the book would have worked better if the authors had written a series of books that developed each perspective further. Certainly, the global contest concept for for-profit enterprises is a proven area that almost anyone can do. That topic deserved more emphasis and explanation. Instead, you get a newspaper-level discussion of the topic.

I have not read a better book on this subject (but there may well be one I've missed) and I suspect Wikinomics will be one of the standards in on-line mass collaborations.
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on October 21, 2013
As someone who was already fairly knowledgeable about social media and mass collaboration before reading this book, I found it's analysis of the situation to be frustratingly topical and shallow.

As a general introduction to "Web2.0" for the uninitiated, I'm sure this book would be a great introduction without ever getting too technical or spending too much time in one area. So maybe I just wasn't the right audience for this book.

To me, this book feels like something written by someone who really understands the topic through-and-through, sits down, and starts writing off the top of their head, and that's it. No bold new insights or mind-blowing connections others have over-looked, it is just a topical survey of some of the big players that were on the scene at the time this book was written.
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That the nature of work, collaboration, and other economic activities is changing very rapidly these days is indisputable. However, it is not immediately clear to everyone what are the forces that are driving this change and what sorts of effects it may have. This book tries to answer these and many other questions in the realm of how the latest advances in various information tools are enabling the radical shift in collaborative production. It is a very readable book aimed at the general audience. The fact that it doesn't delve too deeply into the technical details (like the "Long Tail, The, Revised and Updated Edition: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More") may be a plus, as this way it may be more suitable to appeal to the wider readership base. Overall, it is an interesting read if you are not familiar with the general trends in open and collaborative economy.
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on May 28, 2007
This book intends to show how new collaborative technologies are changing the way things work in business. It stresses the point that people and corporations need to adapt or be left behind. It speaks about things like the Open Source movement and how Web 2.0 requires some new perspectives on business and success. It contrasts archaic ways of doing business with the new "open" ways that are powering current developments in the market. It covers many case studies about businesses that have shown remarkable ability to adopt and embrace this new collaboration.

I found myself part way through this book with very negative feelings about it. It all seemed rather hype-driven to me. The authors talk very optimistically about the new "Golden Era" of Wikinomics and collaboration. It is loaded with platitudes and strange usage of words such as "huckstering", "ecosystems", "consultantese", "successism", etc. It seemed to be a large pile of "purple prose". I also found some technically inaccurate statements, such as the part about XML and tagging. There is also some questionable usage of the term "open source", even to the point where the book at one point states that Microsoft is adopting open source. I don't remember the exact words, but that is basically what they implied. That is not true. Microsoft is, in reality, trying to appear more transparent about what they are doing and are releasing some source code. From what I understand, the Windows source code has always been available to whoever is willing to sign a draconian contractual agreement. But that is not open source. Open source involves releasing source code on some very specific terms, which mere distribution of sources doesn't necessarily satisfy. Even Microsoft marketing moguls know enough to distinguish between this and "open source". They "share" source, but don't consider it "open". While generally the author's portrayal of the open source movement is pretty good, at a few critical points the authors show misunderstandings about what "open source" actually is.

Now that I've finished the book, I must say that those criticisms still apply. However, my perspective on the book has evened out a bit. I am now more appreciative of what the authors have produced. I do really think it is a valuable work for those who want to find out why applying old business techniques to the Internet will not work. What is needed are new strategies to accomidate changes that have been in the works for many years now. One can not depend on secrecy, "locking things down", and tying in the customer in order to succeed in today's environment. Competition and the necessity of rapid development requires that many minds, inside and outside of particular firms, need to collaborate to accomplish things that one firm's employees could not. By fostering openness and community innovation, large companies can leverage this community in ways that their own staff never could and they can focus on other areas which are more important to their core business. This applies to various extents to both sheer production and knowledge-based markets such as scientific research. As the open source movement has proven, the values of openness and sharing have really pervaded the current culture. People want to be able to "tweak" and "mix" the things they use. In order to succeed, businesses must start to actively seek out opportunities to collaborate, to contribute to the community and also reap the benefits of community contribution. If the only way a business can succeed is by what it hides from its customers and how it restricts its customers, it is doomed to failure. Companies need to embrace openness and find ways they can leverage these changes to accomidate win-win situations. These are just a few of the points that the authors make very forcefully.

There is much that is valuable in this book for technologists and business people. As I've mentioned, there are some annoying aspects about this book, but now seeing the book as a whole I conclude that the good outweighs the bad. I find it plausible to assume that some of the "errors" may have been moreso miscommunications than outright errors and are perhaps not very serious blunders in light of the entire scope of the book. This is a book worth getting if you have a stake in developing, marketing, or even using technology. The authors wisely broaden their presentation of the new "Wikinomics" to include all sorts of disciplines and industries. I'd particularly recommend this book to decision makers in companies that are struggling with the old mindset of "locking things down in order to stay competitive".
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on February 6, 2007
Don Tapscott has done it again. He has beheld what we see happening all around us on the Internet and made sense of it from a business perspective. And he's again displayed his rare ability to distill a huge concept into a single word. (Buzzwords are with us for a reason: we need them as shorthand for new and complex ideas.)

Wikinomics is mainly about innovation and how web-based collaboration is driving it. Also, the book speaks to organizational dynamics and how the web is eating away at traditional hierarchies. This book should be a warning to companies that still think instant messaging is a nuisance and a threat to security. That's wrongheaded, according to the authors.

As the founder of the world's first eBay for knowledge, Knexa, I have a keen interest in what Tapscott calls "idea agoras," web-based exchange systems that facilitate the transfer of knowledge and/or intellectual property for financial consideration. Although such business models have been around for several years (Knexa launched in 1999), the space is still in its infancy and will continue to evolve.

Also, as an executive in the mining industry, I was pleased to see the example of Gold Corp used as an example of cutting edge innovation through web-based collaboration. Mining is typically seen as a knowledge economy Neanderthal, the quintessential "old economy" industry. But people in the business know better. It's extremely knowledge centric.

But when it comes to sharing knowledge to gain competitive advantage, the mining business is no different than the rest of the business world, where most would rather take their IP to the grave than "collaborate" with a competitor. But as Wikinomics points out, some companies are realizing that there's opportunity where others fear to tread.

David H Brett, CEO, Knexa, CEO, Cusac Gold Mines Ltd.
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I have just finished reading "Wikinomics" and get this strange feeling that I've come across this theme somewhere else in my distant past. Then it hits me; yes, it has to be the Tofflers of the 80s and their obsessive prophecies about the coming of the liberating, mind-bending, 2nd and 3rd Wave Information Age. While the book contains some useful updates on where the present worldwide web is going, it can be reduced to the old saw, "many minds or hands make light work". According to Tapscott, collaboration in the form of co-creative communities is where the Internet is going in the future, and when finally realized will truly revolutionize our way of thinking. While such thinking is creatively futuristic and inspiring, many of us still think in the present in terms of using information to our individualistic advantage. Does that mean that we are not part of the wave? Tapscott leaves me with the distinct impression that even my core set of values or belief system will not be spared in this great social radicalization. While he seems prepared to dispense with the hierarchical paradigm of decision-making, where someone above you gives the orders, he doesn't share his vision as to how things will eventually get done in that future paradise of an economy. At best, he seems to hint that it will come together as the base of human intelligence synergizes and seeks new frontiers. Such a notion is pie-in-the sky given the fact that we, as the human race, can't seem to come together to address the real problems facing the globe: AIDS, war, poverty, and illiteracy. Having websites like MySpace and YouTube might be a good starting point for pooling ideas but it doesn't give us the right to be optimistic about having arrived before we've barely started. Read this book, if only to get caught up with the latest developments in the information world.
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on July 27, 2015
Interesting but not necessary to explain twice or three times the same idea with different examples that fill pages with nothing new to think about
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on January 31, 2008
recently read a book called, Wikonomics - how mass colaboration changes everything by Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams. It is a book about the social networking and collaborative sites that are becoming very popular. I found the book highly interesting since I try to follow trends and try to figure out what opportunities are available in which trends.

Wikonomics points out that many times traditional business is afraid of open source projects like Linux and Wikopedia but others see a corneacopia of participation and economy. The thesis behind the book is that the collaborative social networking type sites actually increase business opportunity and do not take away business opportunity.

The book had a number of possible subtitles including:

Edit This Book!
The Dividends of Collective Genius
We the People
Business (The Remix)
The new World of Collaborative Anarchy
Please Register to Participate
The Power of Us
Creating a New page in Business History
Unleashing Our Collective Genuis
This Book is a Stub
Harnessing the Power of Your Peers
(Your Input Needed Here)
Peer-Powered Prfit in Life, Business, and Individual Choice
The Peer Advantage: Myth or Magic?
Peer Producing the Future

The subtitles describe what the phenomenon is.

The book talks about the 4 principles of Wikonomics including being open. This flies in the face of some businesses which often try to keep their secrets to themselves.

Peering: most organizations have a higher archaric set up and the nature of Wikis is they are based on peer.

Sharing: again a conventional western society says, keep it to yourself.

Acting Globally: Wikies are a great way to get global knowledge working together.

It is a good book and a fairly quick read; fairly inspirational; however, I am still not sure what to do with it. Thinking...
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on December 29, 2015
helps a bit.. . .
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