Friday, December 14, 2007

Wikinomics: an open collaborative sharing meta-summary

I came across the book Wikinomics a while back. It reports on yet another revolution that is exploding all around us. Call it the open collaborative sharing peering acting globally revolution. A survey of what is available about this book on the internet leads me to believe it is one that could easily be summarized in a few powerpoint slides. True, many books could be compressed in that way. But given that my personal library has hit somewhere on the order of 3500 books, and according to my wife those 3500 books and I will be living on the streets if I purchase too many more, I have to be selective. So I did the next best thing. I read a summary of the book.

Whenever I read a summary that is freely available on the internet, I wonder where summary starts and copyright ends. I'll let the authors of Wikinomics be the judge. But given their excitement about open collaborative sharing peering acting globally, I'm sure they don't mind.

Also, please note that henceforth when I use the term they I mean the authors of the summary and/or the authors of Wikinomics. Since I only read the summary, there's the possiblity that they--the summary authors--made it all up (a real danger of sharing on the internet). I'm not sure what the actual book says. Like I told you: I'm afraid to buy it. But when I say they I mean those people who produced the summary and/or the book. Anyway, it's all collaborative, so let's not be too concerned with authorship. Right?

So what did I learn from that Wiki-summary? That we're living in a world of openness, peering, sharing, and acting globally.

First, an aside: Don't you suppose they could have come up with a single term to replace acting globally? I think one word would sound better. Maybe they should have collaborated with an online community, finding a solution in the ideagoras (more on that later). Since they didn't, I'll use the term globalling. It's my contribution to their project. I realize it's not an existing word, but if they can coin ideagoras, I see no reason I can't collaboratively bring globalling to the table.

So let's repeat. What did I learn from the summary? We've living in a world of openness, peering, sharing, and globalling.

What does this mean? Briefly:
  • openness: Fewer secrets. Less IP hogging. Manage some IP tightly, but share the rest. More publicly or communally owner ideas.
  • peering: No, this does not mean looking into your neighbors window. It means working with people on a more egalitarian basis. Sharing ideas. Code. Whatever. Maybe charging one another as well. Less hierarchy (read: less boss telling you what to do--take that you mean old boss).
  • sharing: Sort of goes along with the openness and peering mentioned above. "Here, this worked for me, maybe you can try it too." That sort of sharing.
  • globalling: Remember, that's my word. You can use it though. I'm sharing it. What does it mean? It means there's a big world out there. Lots of players. I'm not sure whether it's flat or not. I suppose globalling can take place on flat or curved globes.

And one other thing. Consumers can also be prosumers. Yup, as a consumer, you help those from whom you consume make money, and that means you make some money too. Maybe you produce a cool video with some tools the big-guys provide, install it on a web-site hosted by those big-guys, and now they're raking in those big-guy advertising dollars. Guess what? The big-guys throw a few cents your way. Or perhaps you've got an old junky bike. Snap a photo, put it up on Ebay: Ta-da, you're both making money.

As a consumer/prosumer, they tell us we may be developing something cool, sharing that cool thing, or just socializing--cause you know what? We're all cool.

Finally, that ideagoras I mentioned above: Some people in the world have questions. Others have answers. Suppose you match up the questions with the answers? You got it: ideagoras. The marketplace of ideas.

That's pretty much it. So what do I think? Well, I'm not overly enthused or convinced when they call YouTube and MySpace collaborative environments. Collaborative maybe in the sense that YouTube and MySpace host an environment in which users can post material. But I wouldn't call them collaborative in the sense that the users on either are producing new innovative ideas. They're mainly advertising, socializing, and entertaining. Don't get me wrong: I've learned a great deal about certain topics, e.g. music, by drawing on the material available on YouTube. I can even show my kids a segment from Gilligan's Island. Not that I'd often want to, but it's there if the need arises.

My opinion: There is obviously some merit in the ideas behind openness, peering, sharing, and globalling. But I'm not sure there's enough to warrant an entire book. Nor the time to read a whole book. And most importantly--to take the risk of coming home with that book, only to find myself later that evening wandering the streets with 3500 books in tow. It's just not worth the risk.

Fortunately, in this open, peering, sharing, and globalling world we live in, I found an alternative. On the internet. That summary I referred to.

In that sense, I suppose they're onto something. But once you've grappled with the definitions for openness, peering, sharing, and globalling--plus prosumer and ideagoras--I think you're 99.9% of the way there.

But now that I know I'm a prosumer, I have to figure out a way to start monetizing my contributions to the this open, peering, sharing, globalling world.