Book review: Wikinomics

Wikinomics: How mass collaboration changes everything.
Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams
Portfolio/Penguin, 2007

Losers launch web sites. Winners launch vibrant communities. Losers build walled information gardens. Winners build public squares.

Wikinomics authors Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams don’t aim their book specifically at educators and academics, but much of what they say will interest anyone involved in educational communications and publishing.

Tapscott is chief executive of New Paradigm, a think tank and strategy consulting company, is the author of ten books, and teaches at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. Anthony D. Williams has been researching and writing about trends in technology and society for over a decade. He is vice president and executive editor at New Paradigm.

Conventional academic publishing is both slow and expensive for users. Frustrated authors can find their cutting edge discoveries less cutting edge after a lumbering review process has delayed final publication by up to a year, and in some cases longer. Tapscott and Williams argue that new communication technologies render paper based publication obsolete. “The traditional peer reviewed journal system is already being augmented, if not superseded, by increasing amounts of peer to peer collaboration,” the authors say.

More profound breakthroughs will come as researchers come to rely less on the “paper” as the prime vehicle for scientific communication and more on tools such as blogs, wikis, and web-enabled databanks.

Wikinomics is based on four ideas: openness, peering, sharing, and acting globally, principles that are even now replacing some old tenets of business.

Tapscott and Williams know that this peer-oriented approach to producing knowledge and sharing information is nothing new in academia. Research in the sciences has been circulating and building on discoveries for centuries. But it’s new territory for the business world. Collaboration, publication, peer review, and exchange of what they call ‘precompetitive’ information are now becoming keys to success in the knowledge-based economy, they argue.

“We’re talking about deep changes in the structure and modus operandi of the corporation and our economy, based on new competitive principles such as openness, peering, sharing, and acting globally,” they say.

And they practice what they preach: you can participate in the Wikinomics project by becoming a collaborator.

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One Response to Book review: Wikinomics

  1. […] Review (EducationPR Blog): Book review: Wikinomics. Grade level: […]

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