Book Review - Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything
This is one of those books that I should have been on top of when it first came out last year. But it took the urging of a blog reader to finally get around to it... Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams. You can tell things have been moving fast in this field, as I almost felt as if I were looking in retrospect to see how his observations played out. Still, for someone who hasn't quite figured out the reason behind "mass collaboration", this is a great place to start.
Introduction; Subtitles; Wikinomics; The Perfect Storm; The Peer Pioneers; Ideagoras; The Prosumers; The New Alexandrians; Platforms for Participation; The Global Plant Floor; The Wiki Workplace; Collaborative Minds; The Wikinomics Playbook; Acknowledgments; Notes; Index
Tapscott and Williams do a fine job in laying out the case for wikinomics, or how value is delivered by opening up your product to innovation and collaboration by others. They use a number of examples to drive home this point, such as how Amazon allows the external use of its API so that others can develop products that tie into the Amazon business model. This "opening up" means that they end up with a huge amount of research and development done by others at no cost to themselves. And as these add-on products become popular, they drive more traffic and sales to Amazon. As opposed to the closed, proprietary systems of the past, everyone wins as everyone has a vested interest in seeing the system succeed.
Each chapter in the book deals with a particular element of the collaboration models that are being explored. For instance, Peer Pioneers dives into the world of open source software and Wikipedia. This shows how people are motivated to join and participate in an offering when the normal financial incentives to do so are not present. One of my favorite chapters was Prosumers, which talks about how consumers expect to be able to participate in a product once they own it, to become a "producer" of sorts (hence, the name "prosumers"). This hacking mentality, very familiar to me, shows how companies benefit by playing to that mindset. You may lose full control over what you *thought* your product would be and do, but you'll gain so much more in the way of a devoted following dedicated to stretching the boundaries of what you thought was possible.
While some of the material towards the end of each chapter tends to devolve into "expert" recommendations and analysis, it doesn't wholly detract from what is largely a very practical book. Even if you're already swimming in the collaboration pool, this will reinforce some ideas and spur some others. And if you *don't* know what the whole Web 2.0 thing is, Wikinomics will start to open up that world to you.