Customer Review

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The fun side of social networking, July 23, 2007
This review is from: Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything (Hardcover)
If you have never contributed to a wiki, this book may excite you enough to take the plunge. If you have been living under a rock, and haven't noticed that something called 'wikipedia' has put door-to-door encyclopedia salesmen out of business, the book will be a revelation and demands all 300+ pages. If you are anxious about the US economy, the book may be calming since 'the people' are being energized by wikinomics.

I wish that the text had provided a structured analysis of the 'wiki' phenomena. Instead, each chapter covers a different industry's use of Web 2.0 functionality. Each chapter provides an example of an exceptional company exceeding the industry norm by relying on Internet data sharing, social networking, shared editing, etc. By the end of the book, the examples start getting repetitive, but no attempt is made to provide some order. Early in the book, the author claims the Internet is reducing the 'cost of collaboration', and this is changing everything. That's a good point, but there is little rational exploration of the various implications 'low cost collaboration' might imply.

For example, what will the 'criminal' element do with the wiki revolution? Is it a good thing that criminals can use Internet tools to evolve faster than law enforcement agencies?

Anyone who uses the Internet for long knows about phishing, malware, viruses and identity theft, so it puzzles me that the dark side gets no time in this book.

Another controversial aspect of the 'wiki' movement is copyright law. Some say that 'wikipedia' is simply a rip-off of traditional encyclopedias and print materials. From this perspective, the Wikipedia is simply a summary of various printed materials, and the authors of these source materials never get paid for the benefit they provide. This is a minority view, but it deserves consideration. (From what I hear, the cost of academic print journals is skyrocketing)

For a somewhat darker view of what 'social networks' can bring to the table, see John Robb's 'Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization'. What Mr. Tapscott calls 'wikinomics', Mr. Robb called '4th generation warefare.' Both agree that the technology favors the young and talented who wish to by pass limitations society might wish to apply. Mr Robb doesn't see why spectacular violence can't be an integral part of social networking, though.

The book Freakonomics provides a similar, but more balanced, view of technology's impact.
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