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Are you getting those "what's this Web 2.0 stuff" questions at work? Does the boss want to know why s/he should be considering how social networking can help the business? Barry Libert and Jon Spector can answer some of those questions in the book We Are Smarter Than Me: How to Unleash the Power of Crowds in Your Business. It's a bit "rah rah" in nature, and it actually failed in its initial goal. But this small volume should be more than enough to get your management thinking in the right direction...

How We Got Here; Look What We Can Do; Go from R&D to R&WE; How May We Help We?; Customer, Sell Thyself; If We Build It, We Will Come; Welcome to the World Bank of We; Make Everyone a C-We-O; Lead from the Rear; Afterword - Join the Crowd; Company Index; Name Index; Subject Index; Acknowledgments

The general idea in We is that no one single person or organization can have all the right answers. It's only as you invite others into the conversation that you will make dramatic leaps in customer involvement and ownership. These invitations often show up these days in web sites using tools such as discussion forums, community volunteer help desks, wikis, etc. The "crowds" know more than you do, and they are often quite willing to be part of your success if you'll let them. Take for example... a huge differentiator is their customer review feature (of which this review will be part of as soon as I'm done). Why do people contribute their time and effort on reviews of items when it only serves to help Amazon sell more? Because people are passionate about what they like and dislike, and they want their voice to be heard. This "wisdom of the crowds" enables others to get a more complete view of a product, and that ability drives traffic and sales. The reviewer feels good, the buyer has a better experience, the manufacturer is happy (provided the review was a good one), and Amazon draws more traffic. This is but one example of many that are covered in the book, and its worth the small investment of time to go through the 150+ pages.

When I said the book failed in its initial goal, that's not necessarily a bad thing. The authors actually wanted this book to write itself using wikis and discussion forums for each chapter. The profits of the sales would then be donated to charities, with the contributors determining the percentage of what went where. The profit thing worked, but there still needed to be the traditional writer, editor, etc. in order to get everything to actually end up on the shelf. But even at that, the input of hundreds of participants does come through in the pages, and it's a prime example of the "we" being smarter than the "me".

I also thought the book was a bit on the "this is all great and wonderful, and you need to do it now!" side. Techies will not find details on how to make this all happen, nor will you get a lot of deep philosophical discussion on the academic value of this approach. The writing is emotional, and is meant to touch the reader at a level that calls for some type of response. If you give this to your management (or if you're management yourself), you should come away understanding what "crowdsourcing" is all about, as well as how it has worked in other companies and organizations. From there, you can take the next steps towards nailing down your own personal action plan...
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on January 16, 2008
It's disturbing what passes for a book these days. This book is a disjointed collection of quotes, lists, and sundry clipart.
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on November 3, 2007
.. so it's good to know that there are many ways to capture the wisdom of audiences, co-workers and strangers who share a passion for whatever it is I'm doing. I'll take all the help I can get. In "We Are Smarter Than Me", Barry Libert and Jon Spector have put together a book that is both a primer in using social networks for businesses and individuals, and a prime example of what can be created by using them effectively.

While true "Web 2.0" geeks might find some of the examples a bit basic, most business people and civilians will be fascinated at how many examples fit their needs, and might even find the competition is ahead of them.

You can hear an interview with Barry Libert on The Cranky Middle Manager Show at [...]
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on October 27, 2007
Drawing on their social networking ideas and research, authors Barry Libert and Jon Spector drew upon more than 4,000 people to help write a book on how to make money from the wisdom of crowds.

Writing a book is hard enough, but coordinating the contributions of thousands must be a massive effort. Surprisingly the resulting effort is readable and insightful. The primary and secondary authors argue adapting social network to your business will drive decision-making and greater profitability.

The book shares case studies on product development, manufacturing, marketing, customer service, finance and management. After completing it, I had greater insights into business functions that can best be supported by social networks and communities; moderating the process, balancing structure with independence. I particularly enjoyed the authors' thoughts on managing risk and effective metrics.

I loved James Surowiecki's The Wisdom of Crowds and still highly recommend it. This book takes the next logical step. If social collaboration is going to infiltrate our personal and professional lives, there will have to be profit in it.
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on November 4, 2007
The most unique part of this book:

The entire book was community written - by members of the community. In their own words:

"In a time where community and social networks are starting to infiltrate every aspect of our personal and professional lives, WE decided to test the notion that a book of business best practices could be written by "the crowd," and we are excited to have participated in this groundbreaking experiment."

With strong backing from MIT, SharedInsights (Barry Libert), Prentice Hall and Wharton, this book was written in wiki style with hundreds of contributors.

Who's this book for?
1. If you are in marketing, customer service, or product development in any large organization and are looking to present a case to your management team about the value of building a community, this book is a must read. It will give you a great set of case studies to present.

2. If you are interested in learning more about crowdsourcing and themes around community driven businesses this book is a good read.

3. If you are looking to write a book about social networks and communities and social media or the User generated content theme / metaphor, pick up a copy of this book as a reference or citation.

Here's what I really liked about the book:
1. Lots of examples. From P&G to Brewtopia, this book has a lot of "real world" examples of how companies have been able to successfully tap into the power of the community to create value.

2. Tangible case studies: Since there are many examples, you can get practical tips on how to start a community, grow and let your community thrive.

What I thought the book missed the mark on:
1. The main points were lost because of so many examples. It was not easy at all to connect the main points, key assumptions and supporting facts. Since there were many examples how customers use communities it tends to be just a lot of case studies but leaves the reader to connect the dots. Maybe there's a sense of discovery you might get from this as a counterpoint.

2. The value of editing. I am always amazed when I see final copies of a book especially after I saw the author's pre-release copy. Editors rock. This book would have benefited from a stronger editorial influence.

3. There's a place for online connection, and this book missed that. I prefer books that are "living" to ones that are written once and done with. What I mean by that is when book authors continue the conversation and provide relevant links on a website that makes the book a living project. I think the website wearesmarter makes an attempt at that, but the examples could be brought to live with interviews, podcasts and updates from the companies that were featured in the examples.

Overall a very quick (2 hour or less) read. Recommend you get a copy.
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on January 6, 2008
The book turns out to be more like a pamphlet: superficial, one/few liners.
It would be nice as a presentation, but as a book it is too pretentious.
However, it does provide a convenient list of ideas to "unleash the power of crowdsourcing"
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on February 6, 2008
I cannot believe this book was published by Wharton School Publishing. The main point could be delivered as a page of news clip, another page of index including link to the crowdsourcing websites being described. This book is just a list of websites, no in-depth analysis of crowdscourcing phenomena. This book is full of information about crowdsourcing websites, but no knowledge about crowdsourcing.
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on December 14, 2007
For starters, innovation networks are nothing new--companies have been outsourcing r&d for decades. Also, the book mentions Second Life, but if you have visited SL lately, you will notice that many of the areas are more like digital vacant lots than the slick innovation exchanges the book describes. Many complex issues surround intellectual property transfer, but the book glosses over them (check out "The Wealth of Networks" by Yochai Benkler for detailed description). Moreover, heirarchies have survived this long because they work and because not everyone wants to be a leader. The real challenge will be utilizing external networks in conjunction with in-house r&d (with all of its heirarchies and power structures).
Several other things (related to the video presentation on the review page):
(1) Retail investors are smarter than experts? I think he means index funds, which do not use "crowds" to make their allocations but are simply indexed to the overall market and adjusted automatically
(2) The Navy example---if memory serves me correctly, the investigators were not randomly chosen but were pre-screened for their mathematical ability
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on September 6, 2011
Do not waste your time and money in this item. It is useless, it do not add any value and you can find better information with a simple google search or wikipedia.
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on October 28, 2007
Not since 1440 when Guttenberg made it all possible has a printed book had thousands of contributors, who acted as peeroneers (pioneers) in the conceptual open source Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everythingframework this book covers. MIGHTY WE BOOK is the first of a new genre of books to follow in this new internet era, and they will alter the world knowledge base in ways we can not imagine.

Plus, this book is a collector's item - buy your hardcover while you can - or miss the collector's library. Kudos to Wharton, the authors and their exceptional perception to understand the difference between Egonomics and Wikinomics - WE will forever supplant ME in bee-hive fashion.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, you had better read MIGHTY BOOK, or resign to your old world model of doing things - anything.
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