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on August 17, 2009
This is an important book that talks about the potential that global webs of collaboration, global platforms, and global manufacturing plant forms have to unleash creativity and profit.

Here are the pluses and minuses.

The Minuses:

First, the book is too long. A good technical editor could easily pare 1/3 out, and the authors would still make the same point.

Second, somewhere along the line Penguin abandoned most uses of the comma. You can see it in most of their recent books, and this is a problem. It makes sentence mechanics less precise and sentences much harder to read. Again, a technical editor could go through this book and make it more readable.

Third, some sections are unnecessarily dense. Some of the nomanilized verbs (ex. verbs turned into nouns using "tion") are priceless. I have no doubt they will end up in the Hall of Fame at the Society for Technical Communication.

Fourth, some sections repeat earlier material ad nauseum.

Fifth, the authors bury each chapter thesis at the end of the chapter. If you are writing technical text, please do not do this. Tell me your thesis up front. Then, I may decide whether or not I want to wade through your following arguments. Imagine how much easier would our reading lives be if everybody built written arguments like this.

The Pluses:

The authors present important thinking on the present transformation of business through interactive communication. People working without global barriers may lead to positive economies of scale, with high levels of creativity never seen before.

The Bottom Line:

Read this book. Despite its density, the points are important. You can knock out the book in a few weeks of casual reading. Yes it is dense, and some sections simply restate earlier material to death, but this may be because we now live in uncharted waters. Maybe some points bear repeating.

My biggest concern is this book does not present a balanced picture. It talks only in glowing, positive terms about the reality of webs of collaboration. It never addresses the negative externalities that result. And as the late neo-Luddite Neil Postman wrote, every new technology solves old problems while creating new problems. What new problems will result from all this technology based collaboration?

For example, were all module suppliers for the Boeing 787 able to deliver on their contracts, especially in the wake of our current global economic recession-depression?

Who bears the costs of negative externalities? For example, how much pollution do Boeing's suppliers create when shipping modules from Australia or Japan to Washington state? Who pays these costs? How much fuel is burned up moving modules from one place to another? Wouldn't it be less polluting and more efficient for these companies to build plants in Washington state?

What are the negative effects of such profound economies of scale (EOS) during economic downturns, like now? We saw similar EOS almost wipe out whole industries. Herbert Spencer, the early sociologist, would tell us to ignore it, that it's a cycle of nature that leads to stronger human institutions. Maybe so. But, it also can and does lead to real human suffering. I don't know about others, but I do not feel consoled by being able to Facebook or Twitter about environmental and human devastation wrought by global EOS.

Finally, what is the potential for one supplier in a chain of modules to hold out for ransom before delivery? With such a duck soup of global contractual law, I think a very real potential exists for this. It's not like you can run down to the Home Depot or the next competitor to replace the module. Remember, as Tapscott and Williams write that suppliers continually re-engineer the modules. A sponsoring company like Boeing may hold no proprietary rights, or may not have the core information that lets it re-create the module.

This is all dicey to say the lest; yet, none of it is remotely approached in the first edition of the book. If not in the second edition, the third edition must also contain critiques or, minimally, questions about the potential negatives.
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on October 23, 2009
Here is the mass collaboration framework presented by Wikinomics in a nutshell:
- Generate revenue from support, training, and consulting on a limited set of dimensions of value that matter most to customers
- Determine how participants will capture value (monetary or non-monetary value) for their contribution
--> Non monetary sources include prestige & social belonging
--> Allow others to extend and add services
- Assume everything digital is free and replicable
- Outsource everything non-strategic
- Interoperate with other open systems (in both directions)
- Successful communities require:
--> A core group to guide, integrate, and manage exceptions to processes
--> Mechanisms for quality control
--> Self selecting and self replenishing
--> Constant communication
--> Systems that are modular, reconfigurable, and editable

Though I summarize the books I read, I always recommend that folks buy the book for themselves to get the full benefit and to support the author's endeavors. As other reviewers have noted, this is slow and sometimes repetitive read. However, when you step back from it, you observe a nice framework for applying mass collaboration to your existing or future business. The authors do this deftly through examples that span gold mining to healthcare to social media.
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VINE VOICEon October 19, 2007
This book hammers home a 21st century no-brainer. "It's all based on a principle the new generation of Web start-ups learned from the open source software community: There are always more smart people outside your enterprise boundaries than there are inside."

While it has mixed reviews ("made me feel alternately like Christopher Columbus and Grandpa Simpson"), it's an important addition to your organization's resource library.

Tapscot and Williams deliver fascinating case studies of companies that have opened up their internal secrets/data to the world so "mass collaboration" can help them solve big problems. Procter & Gamble did it and so did a failing Toronto-based gold-mining firm. In 2000, Goldcorp, Inc. ran a contest, the "Goldcorp Challenge," with $575,000 in prize money--and posted all of the mine's proprietary data on the web. The request: help us find more gold. The result: "More than 1,000 virtual prospectors from 50 countries got busy crunching the data."

Mass collaboration from the most unlikely sources and disciplines targeted new mother lodes on their 55,000-acre property. It worked: $100 invested in the company in 1993 was worth more than $3,000 in 2006.

There's a core value here (a biblical one) for faith-based organizations and churches: it's all kingdom work. It's time to open up and work together versus holding your ministry close to the vest. (It's not your ministry anyway!)

Read this book and then ask your team these questions: 1) What's our biggest challenge in the next 12 months? 2) Would mass collaboration help us solve it? 3) Do we operate as if the smartest people are INSIDE our organization or OUTSIDE our organization? Why?
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on September 2, 2007
Wikinomics is about opening your company to the world where communities come together, individuals share ideas, intelligence, peer produce, innovate; the communities are driven primarily by self-motivation or respect from peers. The idea is awesome; the authors are right that this is a new era; some of the most successful companies in the world use wikinomics; the most successful Internet companies are based upon it. The companies cost is dramatically cut, they become trustworthy, and individuals create what they want.

But the book is almost irritating to read. They paint a world where wikinomics is practically perfect, where the communities created by the company are utopian, and the companies who refuse the wikinomic ideology as evil. According to the authors, the companies that don't jump on the bandwagon will ultimately fail because they can't compete with speed and innovation that wikinomic companies can produce (compare wikipedia with any encyclopedia).

The reality is the communities created are often not egalitarian. Digg is a good example -- the community is driven by a faction of a top 100 users who control the front page content, any article or comment outside the digg mindset is quickly buried, and websites have been created where you can pay to get dugg.

In addition, the book ignores wikinomic companies who have failed completely or to a large extent (amapedia, a million penguins, la times wiki editorial, the thousands of 2.0 clones) and they give the reader no idea how to start a successful web 2.0 company. The book is also too long and each chapter adds little to the last. The entire book is read in the first chapter.

While I feel companies opening up to the world is an awesome concept and many of the ideas in the book are right, I would have preferred a more balanced book which makes this book unsatisfying. In the end, I still question whether wikinomics is just a bubble going to burst.
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on April 20, 2008
A wiki is a website that is editable by anyone that visits it. Wikipedia, for example, is an editable encyclopedia with more than 2.3M pages (as of April 2008). People all over the planet, with all sorts of backgrounds have contributed to Wikipedia. Tapscott and Williams tap this idea of mass contribution and mass collaboration as the basis of this book. In addition to Wikipedia, they cite examples in automotive, pharmaceuticals and technology to suggest that mass, open collaboration is the key to forward progress. The examples they cite are amazing indeed, and worthy of closer inspection. However, the book makes a quantum leap by suggesting that mass collaboration is changing everything. We just aren't there yet. Most companies are very inward-focused and resistant to open collaboration.

One other comment: The writing and content of this book are not on par with Tapscott's other books, especially the excellent The Digital Economy: Promise and Peril In The Age of Networked Intelligence.
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on June 10, 2013
This book is a pretty inclusive book on all the Web 2.0/ Business 2.0 concepts.
They have covered pretty much everything that matters.
This book is for people who are still learning about Business 2.0 concepts like crowd sourcing, social collaboration, etc.
This is a must read!
Some reviewers are critical about the book containing consultantese and some self glorification by Tapscott.
But, hey, they wrote the book. To me it did not look like too much of self promotion. If you want to see self promotion in action read Donald Trump. But, I respect him too!
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on July 22, 2015
Surprisingly this book is very appropriate for today's large enterprises that would like to get some fresh, new innovative ideas from large workforces--including government agencies. Crowd-sourcing for ideas has become more usual, with better and easier to use software. When the book first came out it seemed far-fetched, but other than a few "out-of-date" descriptions of "new" IT, the concepts described and group models mentioned are very much needed today and would work better, if anything, than several years ago.
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on November 27, 2007
In this book, the authors argue that the internet will change businesses for the better. Unlike in the recent book I read, "The Cult of the Amateur", by Andrew Keen (see my review), that argues the negative impact of the internet, Tapscott and Williams praise the internet as a medium to faster progress through sharing and contribution. Similarly, Al Gore in "The Assault on Reason" praises the internet and argues against any laws imposing restrictions on it.

Just a few years ago, companies met in boardrooms to take crucial decisions on their future and to solve short and long-term problems. Nowadays, the boardroom is the internet, with thousands if not millions of people sharing and contributing their expertise and know-how. Companies no longer have to solely rely on their employees to solve problems. Posting their problems on the internet will get them a multitude of possible solutions. Smart firms harness this collective capability and genius to spur innovation, growth, and success.

Encyclopedias, like Wikipedia; jetliners, like Boeing; operating systems, like Linux; mutual funds, and many other items are being created by teams numbering in the thousands or even millions. And most of these people contribute their know-how for free!

Many examples abound of companies who have benefited from the online community. Goldcorp used an online competition to find the location of gold in North Canada. They used open source tactics, and revealed their research and statistics online. Savvy online engineers were able to use that information to pinpoint with precise accuracy where gold could be found. It is not easy for a company to make public its proprietary research, but by doing so, they stand to benefit from the expertise of thousands of people.

Wikipedia is a good example of mass contribution. The online encyclopedia has now, according to some experts, surpassed the Encyclopedia Britannica. Anyone can contribute and correct information on Wikipedia. I recently read the really great book "Charlie Wilson's War" by George Crile. I wanted to find more information on Texas congressman Charlie Wilson, but there were no entries of him on my 2007 Encyclopedia Britannica DVD. However, on Wikipedia I found a lot of information on him, and even that a movie is being made about him. All contributors, who are people like you and me, contribute to Wikipedia for free. Whoever said that the Universe does not give a free lunch?

Amazon is another great example of peer contribution. Just surf to amazon.com (like you've just done now) and read reviews submitted by millions of people on any item, whether books, electronics, foods, software, jewelry etc. You'll be able to make a better decision on whether to buy an item. These reviews are submitted to Amazon by people like you and I for free. Amazon benefits from these reviews for most people end up buying the items reviewed from Amazon.

Amazon has also opened their API to the public, allowing programmers worldwide to tinker with their code. Many people have opened online stores as a result of Amazon's open source APIs. These stores get prices and details on all products listed on Amazon. As a result, anyone can now open an online store, get information on millions of products direct from Amazon, and sell any of these products. Amazon takes care of all financial transactions for you. All you have to do is ship the products to the buyers. Who would have thought just a few years ago business could be made so easy? All of this is of course possible because of the internet.

Flickr, Second Life, YouTube, and other online social networking communities also pioneered a new form of collaborative production. In Second Life, for example, you may have a virtual life similar to your day to day real life. In Second Life, you may own a house, go shopping, go to clubs and meet new people, and even invest in real estate using Linden currency. I read once in Businessweek that a British woman made over a million dollars investing in real estate in Second Life. Linden money can be converted into real currency!

The bottom line of this book is that sharing your company's inner workings with the online community is good for the health and progress of your company. The contribution by the online community to your company is what's going to keep it competitive in this fast moving technologically oriented society. The internet has now made it possible to harness the brain power of millions of people worldwide.

According to the authors, Wikinomics will be your road map for doing business in the twenty-first century. After all, the book is based on a $9 million research project.

I highly recommend the book. It will change the way you do business from now on. Indeed, there is power in numbers!
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on May 14, 2007
A book that discusses Web 2.0 technologies and their impact on the world. Not only the world of business but also how technology helps spread news quickly (London bombings), help people (Hurricane Katrina).

Collaboration is the buzz word. Many many people collaborating over the net has resulted in huge benefits for companies .. specially in the areas of medicine, research, pharmaceuticals, even mining.

Discusses how companies like Boeing stay ahead by using technology to communicate with vendors and making them partners and stakeholders in the process and not subordinates.

An interesting book. Could have included a lot more case studies. (difficult to hold interest in between and then the book picks up)

Am currently reading Chris Anderson's 'The Long Tail'. This book also covers topics that overlap.
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VINE VOICEon March 21, 2007
Tapscott and Williams present the idea of collaborative work on the Internet, by now pretty well known through Wikipedia and other similar ventures, as the key to business success. This is not a Malcolm Gladwell-style once-over treatment but a serious look at what some major corporations like Procter & Gamble or IBM have done to expand their boundaries, increase human knowledge, and make a profit.

This book is definitely worth reading. However, the authors do tend to be quite repetitious, and they sometimes make overly broad generalizations: "Today young people are authorities on the digital revolution that is changing every institution in society." Young people definitely use Wikipedia, messaging, MySpace, and so on, but people of various ages are authorities in the traditional sense. Or, "new communication technologies render paper-based publishing obsolete." Not yet in most fields of human endeavor.
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