Comments and notes on Wikinomics (part 1)

A person I know urged me to read Wikinomics by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams. So, I started reading. So far I read chapter 1, 4, and 5. I agree with less cheerful reviewers of this book (here and here) that this book probably doesn’t worth my time spent reading it. I actually agree the general theme presented by the book (what). I just wasn’t so thrilled by the way authors presented their ideas (how). One of the reviewers, Timothy Haugh, clearly pointed this flaw out by saying “Wikinomics suffers from a common malady among these ‘cheerleading for the future’-type books; namely, that what they take 300 pages to say could have been more easily and better said in about 60 pages.” Other than a few interesting anecdotes and catchy slogans, I didn’t feel I am learning something new and useful.

Here are a few notes on interesting anecdotes and catchy slogans:

* Low-cost of entry: Page 12: “What’s more, people can contribute to the ‘digital commons’ at very little cost to themselves, which makes collective action much more attractive.”
* Page 12: “A world where only the connected will survive.” This is digital divide and the authors says nothing about how to bring in the un-connected world.
* Globalization: Page 14: “Today 180,000 people work, live, learn, and play on Foxconn’s massive high-tech campus, designing and building consumer electronics for teenagers around the globe.” How this related to the central theme of the book? Did the globalization of FoxConn happened because of wikinomics or could it happen even without wikinomics? This reminded me the following sentence from “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” by Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter, “I’m talking about the difference between success that happens because of our behavior and the success that comes in spite of our behavior.” (Page 26)
* Page 20: “The new art and science of wikinomics is based on four powerful new ideas: openness, peering, sharing, and acting globally.”
* Page 24: “BiOS (Biological Open Source License)”
* Page 26: “But if your invention can be replicated at no cost, why should anyone pay? And if no one pays, how do you recoup your fixed-cost investment?” Where is the answer?
* Page 27: “The first time Michael Powell, then chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, used Skype, he concluded: ‘It’s over. The world will change now inevitably.'” So what? The world is changing all the time. The old world telcom industry still exists today and are getting bigger. What’s the point here?
* Page 32: Prosumer = “producer consumers” This word has many conflicting meanings according to wikipedia
* Page 104: “In fact, virtually all companies with sizable patent holdings are now busy mining their portfolios, looking for licensing-out opportunities, and taking technologies off the shelf that can bring in revenue.” What’s so wikinomic about this?
* Page 107: “When the company finds those good ideas, Huston says, it brings them inside, where it can capitalize on internal capabilities to enhance or append the offering.” Isn’t this an old concept? i.e. acquisition
* Page 107: ideagoras = “they help link all of these individuals, companies, and organizations together by establishing connections and facilitating transactions between buyers and sellers of ideas and technology.”
* Page 114: “‘Open innovation efforts can die like a flash in the pan,’ says Stern, ‘because some senior executive says, ‘I’m giving you two people and an external budget of ten thousand dollars, and we’d like to see ten deals in the first year.’ It just doesn’t happen. It takes quiet a bit of time for these initiatives to mature.” Many people probably would like to show this to their upper management this statement. However, it convey no potential value and such argument probably won’t go very far without clear communication of value-add.
* Page 114: “Employees should also be rewarded for spotting and acquiring external ideas.” I would love to see this happen. At the same time, I don’t have high hope for this.
* Page 117: “Superior technology alone will not produce competitive advantage.” Next…
* Page 129: “But when it came time to rethink the telematic features for future models(such as GPS navigation), the company released a digital design kit on its Web site to encourage interested customers to design them instead.” We should let our customers design our products too! 😉
* Page 144: “Users exert editorial control by clicking on the digg button for each story they like. Articles that receive the most diggs are promoted to the homepage. And so the community collectively updates the front page. You could say the community is the editor.” We should let our users be the editor too!
* Page 146:

* Give users access to raw content such as interviews as a 
means of providing greater transparency and accountability.
* Provide tools and become a platform for user-generated 
rather than firm-generated content.
* Redesign all content to be a conversation rather than a 
corporation monologue.
* Treat advertising as content too.
* Use new distribution forms, including peer-to-peer networks.
* Adapt content forms and schedules to user demands.

* Page 148: “If you make it profitable for customers to get involved, you will always be able to count on a dynamic and fertile ecosystem for growth and innovation.”

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