<iSchoolStudent> <alwaysBehind>true</alwaysBehind> <freakingOut about="alwaysBehind"/> <inputNeeded>Coffee, and lots of it.</inputNeeded> </iSchoolStudent>
Originally from this facebook status update commentary.
<iSchoolStudent> <alwaysBehind>true</alwaysBehind> <freakingOut about="alwaysBehind"/> <inputNeeded>Coffee, and lots of it.</inputNeeded> </iSchoolStudent>
Originally from this facebook status update commentary.
This review is cross-posted from Kevin Desouza’s blog "Ideas 4 Change: Thoughts from an Info Mgmt Class".
Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything. Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams. New York: Portfolio, 2008. 315pp. $27.95 (ISBN 978-1-59184-193-7)
The essential premise of this work is that the business world as we know it has been changed irrevocably by bottom-up models of collaboration inspired and driven by the Internet. The authors, Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams, argue that businesses have two choices: yield to the power of distributed collaboration or die.
Wikinomics strives to set forth a new economic model that takes advantage of a collision of forces: the advent of cheap technologies that enable cheap, easy collaboration and a new generation of workers that have grown up in an increasingly digital world. It argues that collaboration itself has been redefined, that "[t]he new promise of collaboration is that with peer production we will harness human skill, ingenuity, and intelligence more efficiently and effectively than anything we have witnessed previously" (18). The pillars of wikinomics – openness, peering, sharing, and acting globally – replace a tired business method foundationally supported by the idea of the hierarchy and holding knowledge and creative power within companies, jealously guarding these resources as sacrosanct. Rather than companies dictating what they will and will not accept as goods and services to customers or suppliers, companies must now innovate and work alongside them. Organizations not working with the customer merely leads to customers circumventing organizations and designing their own products and services; the organization then misses out on an opportunity to vastly improve products and services and to innovate (149).
The core chapters of the book set forth seven competitive and growth models for corporate use, with an introductory overview, a discussion of what factors created the fundamental changes discussed within the book, one chapter devoted to addressing the arguments against the wikinomics model, and one chapter devoted to discussing how these models can be implemented in what the authors consider the organizations of old. The authors set forth the following seven models:
Elements of each of these models – which all bring outside resources into the center of organizational culture – can foster successful assimilation into the new open economy.
One of the major unacknowledged themes in Wikinomics is the idea that the modern worker suffers from an abundance of information overload, which is, in part, due to the way organizations operate. This is a particularly interesting thread from an information management perspective. In the Wiki Workplace chapter, the authors write that
. . . the vast majority of employees don’t do business processes anymore, at least not in the traditional sense. After years of optimizing supply chains, outsourcing, automation, and stripping costs and inefficiencies out of the back office, most employees spend very little of their day working on regularized activities. "What they do," says [Ross Mayfield, CEO and founder of Socialtext], "is they manage exceptions to processes. Even in the most mundane workplaces like a call center, people are constantly wrestling with new problems" (255, emphasis added).
Workers no longer deal with the routine; they deal with the rule-breakers, and that negotiation often ends up in a slew of information that is never documented or captured for organizational use (and in fact, often gets lost in the shuffle of daily e-mail) (256).
Open platforms really discuss empowering people with access to information that the companies themselves have only loose ideas of how to handle. Tapscott and Williams frame this along the lines of the adage in the Linux community known as "Linus’s Law" after Linux coordinator Linus Torvalds (which, surprisingly, given that they hold Linux up as a model of innovation, is never quoted in the book itself): "given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow". To restate this in the context of the book, given enough eyes, all solutions are shallow. Companies lack access to resources to realize all the potential that their data or inventions have – even if they had these resources, they would be unable to process the information. Thus, they are forced to open their walls and create scenarios where "ordinary people can create effective new information services that are more resilient than bureaucratic channels" with these "open platforms for innovation inviting unprecedented participation in value creation" (188).
So with all of the new information thrust upon us and with the advent of such broad-ranging technologies that enable collaboration cheaply and easily across geographic, technological, and ideological boundaries, what are organizations to do? Tapscott and Williams contend that the only things organizations can do – and the only way they survive – is to adapt themselves rapidly to the new models of sharing and cooperation that this "perfect storm of technology, demographics, and global economics" creates (54). The Net Generation, with drastically different norms than seen in business in the past – "speed, freedom, openness, mobility, authenticity, and playfulness" (54) – combined with cheap collaboration technology combined with a global economy that "demands and enables new kinds of economic cooperation and opens up the world of knowledge workers to every company seeking uniquely qualified minds to solve their problem" have created new and unusual problems for organizations to address (55). This storm means that "the new Web is inherently dangerous for the business models that depend on controlling the means of creation and distribution", and organizations must adjust (273).
This is a paradigm shift. Paradigms are mental models that constrain our thinking and are often based on assumptions so strong we don’t notice them. New paradigms cause disruption and uncertainty, even calamity, and are nearly always received with coolness, hostility, or worse. Vested interests fight against the change, and leaders of the old are often the last to embrace the new. Consequently, a paradigm shift typically causes a crisis of leadership (285).
Change management here is an essential trait. However, according to Tapscott and Williams, change management has to start from where companies are today, creating a map between what the company currently does and how it will innovate and collaborate in new economic waters (291). Companies must decide the extent to which they will release their reigns on their internal knowledge and intellectual property; however, the timing of this is vitally important (292). Failure to stage this transition correctly – or to release too much intellectual property – will send a company down in flames (177-8).
Most importantly, this sort of change starts from within. "When confronted with such an all-encompassing revolution in business most companies wonder where they should begin. Our answer is to start at home, by fostering collaboration in the workplace" (313). In addition,
Ignoring the cultural memes and norms of the organization is a common way to have the principles and practices of wikinomics discredited at initiation. Champions of this kind of change need to be sensitive to these concerns and structure their engagement with the enterprise in a way that allows the benefits of collaboration to manifest themselves in pilot projects that can be scaled up and help build further momentum for cultural change (313).
Tapscott and Williams clearly believe in the transformative powers of the innovations of Web 2.0. They recognize that a new generation of people raised with computers and electronics is fundamentally altering the economic landscape now and for years to come. This book made me think long and hard about some of the ideas they had for engaging the workplace in creation and change. They are, at least, realists who recognize that this sweeping change cannot and will not be immediate; for this, I give them a hefty dose of credit. They also recognize that there is a range of options that organizations can take to become more nimble in an economy that implements the ideas of wikinomics. One major challenge to their thinking is that they seem to frame the issue as if this generation were the first to realize the potential for drastic, sweeping change. There have been many instances in the past century where the idea of the old economy being swept away have presented themselves, with no particular action taken as a result. Wikinomics is not the be-all, end-all solution that it occasionally is presented as.
As a last note, I found myself strongly contesting one major theme of the book as I read. In talking about the "N-Geners" (people born between 1977 and 1996 inclusive, a generation that I am definitely part of), Tapscott and Williams assert the following:
N-Geners are not content to be passive consumers, and increasingly satisfy their desire for choice, convenience, customization, and control by designing, producing, and distributing products themselves . . . The ability to remix media, hack products, or otherwise tamper with consumer culture is their birthright, and they won’t let outmoded intellectual property laws stand in their way (52).
I took exception to these statements as I read, and I found myself reviewing the assertion throughout the book: it is unfair to paint the Net Generation in an "us vs. them" light, where the "them" is established cultural norms. This is a consistent theme throughout the book. I do not consider us at war, which this paragraph implicitly suggests. Instead, we are attempting to understand our place in the world as a generation, and increasingly, the answers have been evident in utilizing the existing culture in new ways. As a generation, we spur change not because we are rebellious or because we believe it us our birthright; rather, we do so because we know no better. Indeed, we do so because this perfect storm that Tapscott and Williams have described exists, and we are merely left to go along for the ride. We are simultaneously the instigators and the lost sheep that Tapscott and Williams discuss when they declare "the old multinational that creates value in a closed hierarchical fashion is dead" (214). We are as muddled, in many ways, as the organizations and corporate leaders that Wikinomics was written for: those trying to figure out how to stay afloat in an increasingly boundary-less society.
Welcome Session (9:30, Theater)
Recaps of things learned yesterday:
Plenary: Tamara Adlin: The Dirty Little Secret of User Experience (Theater)
Session 5: Geoinformatics: Why You Need the Science, Why the Scientists Needs You (Room 104)
Session 6: Some Database Design and Designing a Database About Everything (Theater), Quentin Christensen
Session 7: Brainstorm: Solving the online identify crisis (Nick Finck) (Theater)
5 Minute Madness (interesting ideas, what we’d like to do, etc.):
Inspired by an xkcd comic, NP-Complete, and also because I was buying some DVDs from Amazon anyway, I decided that I wanted to place an order from Amazon that was as close to $100 worth of merchandise as possible after tax and shipping.
This took a bit of work, especially since I already had three DVD box sets in the cart that I was buying via one of Amazon’s TV DVD sales. Values as follows:
компютри втора употребаI tried first throwing stuff in from my wish list, originally throwing in a paperback copy of Weinberger’s Everything is Miscellaneous. After that, I realized that I had been looking for either a spork or a set of stainless steel chopsticks for home/travel use. I was able to add in a set of stainless steel chopsticks fairly cheaply. With the chopsticks, the book, and the three DVD sets, I got to $98.29 after tax and shipping – roughly $1.70 short.
I spent a bit of time trying to figure out if I could fill that extra $1.70 by buying something small, useful, and cheap – apparently Amazon doesn’t believe in selling individual packets of Post-its or M&Ms or something trivial like that (at least not without going through a reseller, which would break the rules).
I finally managed to get it to $99.75 total with free Super Saver shipping after swapping Weinberger’s book out with another book on my wish list. The breakdown looks like this:
Free shipping and handling
Estimated Tax: $8.24
Total for this Order: $99.75
This is actually an interesting exercise because it exposes information about what Amazon does and does not sell, and also gives some hints as to the usability of the site overall. While I was doing this, I was instant messaging a friend of mine that’s currently serving in Iraq (and coming home in the next couple weeks, I might add) – I originally described this as an “intellectual exercise in consumerism”; he shot back that this is actually interesting social commentary.
This was after calling me a geek/nerd/dork/weirdo/etc.
I wrote this for a class project around SharePoint in Fall, and I’m deleting the site, but it’s almost too good to let go of:
I Have “Blog Block”
There’s all this effort going into trying to figure out what I’m supposed to blog about. Drat it, I have no topic ideas. None. Zip. Nada.
And that, ironically, brings me to my topic – writer’s block. Writer’s block is a significant problem for many writers, especially in academic environments where the stakes are high. I suggest several ways of getting out of writer’s block:
Zach Hale points out that my RSS feed only publishes post summaries. Whoops. I’ve changed it (I hope) so that it properly pushes out entire posts.
For all two of you that might follow this blog using something other than the web site
I’ll credit Zach Hale for first making me wonder why the hell Twitter was really even worth thinking about (though I can’t appear to locate my original comment on his blog to that effect).
After much resistance, I’ve finally set up my Twitter account (you can find it on my Profiles menu on this site’s navigation bar). Why? This series of articles had a lot to do with it, but I also decided that I’d take a page from the book of one of my co-workers, Martin Criminale, and at least try throwing my hat in the ring. And, of course, Zach had a bit to do with it.
Now if they only had an import option that allowed me to upload contacts without sending out invitations (the Gmail contact import doesn’t appear to be working for me at this point). I’m also curious about whether it might be possible to integrate my blog posts and my Twitter posts in such a way that they all appear in a continuous stream on this page (without necessarily being an entry in my WordPress RSS feed). It’s probably doable, just a question of figuring out how. Tweets, as they call Twitter entries, would have to be indicated, but that’s not overly hard. Perhaps a combination of SimplePie and my standard WordPress template code?
My résumé has been updated. I’m starting to wonder whether I need to trim the damned thing, since it does seem like there’s a lot on there, and some of it may stop being entirely relevant after a certain period of time. I’m still very proud of being Eastside Journal’s Most Inspirational Graduate of 2001, but how long does a high school graduation award actually matter? This is a bit of a trickier question, since I’m still in school. I’ve had people look at that document and think it way too long, while others think it proves that I have a vast array of experience (let’s ignore my personal reaction to that last opinion for the moment).
Something quite interesting popped into my head, and thus prompted this post. As most know, I do a lot of reading as a part of my masters studies, and have done a lot of reading in the past regarding a host of different topics, particularly during my undergraduate work at Evergreen. Oddly, when I’m doing academic work, I almost never like to read anything else, since my energies tend to get a bit drained from having to keep up with the academic stuff in the first place — there’s residual effect as well in that I seem to not like reading much for time periods after the academic year has ended. Regardless, I find myself in a bit of a quandary; I’ve done a lot of reading on the subjects of sustainability and information management, but I really have no method as it stands of referencing all of that information or even recalling where something in particular cropped up.
This is a big problem, and spans a lot of different resources: textbooks, class notes, handouts, technical articles, magazine articles, programming code snippets, old web site designs, even in-line notations on whatever I’m reading. I come up with ideas for projects that (no pun intended) peter out (cough) after a while, either for lack of motivation or for lack of appropriate reference material – in general, it tends to be more the former than the latter, but lack of reference material also rears its ugly head occasionally. This isn’t because I lack the information; it’s because I’ve seen it somewhere but can’t find it again!
I’m not the only one. Not by a long shot. Everyone faces this. I have a slight advantage in that I’m beginning to recognize some of the ways that this is solvable, but at a slight disadvantage in that I am not quite as involved with stuff like social tagging or folksonomies — though I should note that Wikipedia has it wrong; folksonomies and social tagging are not the same thing, and saying they are is misleading. Anyway, the main reason I have a problem is that I don’t have a quick way of finding any annotations or relevant readings for a particular topic. If I wanted to remember a bit about economics, for instance (a highly relevant subject for me at the moment because of PB AF 594), I don’t have any way of knowing what articles I’ve read related to the subject or where my books are that cover that subject or what I might’ve taken as notes in classes three or four years ago that talked about the subject. This is partly lack of time to look all this crap up. This is also partly because that requires locating things – like my ink in my last blog post, I may not know it’s already around or may think I loaned the book on the subject to someone else. I actually thought I had loaned one of my economics books to my mother (don’t ask me why I thought this) until I spotted it going to bed one night on a bookshelf directly across from the bed!
I’ve tried recently to reduce the amount of stuff I hang on to that makes it harder to find things. I’ve started a “clippings binder”, where I rip out magazine articles that I think might be useful for future reference and recycle the rest of the magazine. I can’t bring myself to do this for my copies of eco-structure, since those are just pure gold, but most of the other magazines I have floating around succumb to this sooner or later. I can’t do this to books (and won’t – my father, who is doubtlessly reading this, would about have a conniption and ban me to the seventh or eighth layer of hell). Last year before moving to Seattle, I donated a bunch of (admittedly mostly fiction) books to Olympia’s Goodwill branch to reduce the number of books I had sitting around. But really, this hasn’t done much – I still have a lot of books I want to be able to reference.
There’s an extra dimension here – not only is there stuff I have read, but there’s stuff that looks relevant that I want to read, but can’t find the time.
It seems like the only really good way of doing this would be to start creating additional notes on every single book I read that might be relevant to future work, but that in and of itself is a lot of additional work. Would it increase my ability to look for and find information? Probably, especially if it were implemented correctly (I’d guess a wiki system with some sort of tagging grafted on would work quite well for this). Perhaps I’ll take a sabbatical in 2009 after I graduate and spend the summer reading and making notes and putting them into some coherent system. Yeah, right. So how do we organize all these resources that we personally find relevant? There are answers — maybe — and those answers are (fairly) likely to be relevant. But in the meantime, if I want to remember all I’ve seen on sustainability, I’ll have to read it all over again, or at least spend a copious amount of time reading over whatever notes I made in the margins of books or on paper somewhere in a binder buried in my closet.
That’s assuming those notes existed at all, and that’s a whole ‘nother problem.
I’ve been thinking I needed printer ink for the last several weeks, since my printer is reporting that several of the cartridges are getting quite low. I had intended to order some tonight, and nearly did until I opened my filing cabinet and found refills for every single ink cartridge I have.
Well, at least I found the cartridges before I ordered new ones…
Note – I use a business-level printer that does duplexing and provides an insane amount of paper storage capacity (and it’s got a wireless connection built in to boot) – why do I use something with that much power? Home-use printers seem to fall a bit short in the areas of networking and duplexing, thus I went to business models. This is an HP OfficeJet Pro
K550dwtn (actually, it’s a K550dtwn), and thus far has served me quite well. It helps that I keep my need for ink down by forcing all printouts to only use black ink and to use the “Fast/Economical Printing” setting (which is essentially draft printing). There is no visually appreciable difference between draft printing and normal printing speeds, except that draft printing uses a lot less ink.