It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about wikis. I’m afraid my attention moves from one area of interest to another. But I came across an article that was very interesting.
The article is a review of a book called Wikinomics. The general idea of the book is that the internet hasn’t even scratched the surface of how we live and work. The article references Ronald Coase, and his essay on firms. It costs money to collaborate, and companies found it was cheaper to gather people and tools together in one spot to ‘build’ whatever it was they were building, than to go out and try to collaborate with others every time they needed something.
But now the internet is changing things. The article gives several examples. A gold mine was going out of business. They weren’t finding gold and the owner was ready to shut the plant down.
Then he visited MIT and heard about ‘open source’ software. He wondered he could mine gold on the internet. Sounds crazy, but he opened his maps, his charts, and his data. He gave away $500,000 in prize money for people who could tell him where to dig.
The locations came pouring in from retired geologists, grad students, and others. Half of the locations were spots they had not mined. Eighty percent of those spots turned up to contain gold. His company went from being worth 100 million to 9 billion.
The author gives other examples, like the motorcycling industry in China that is a collection of very small firms that are open and collaborating.
It’s an interesting idea, and a great article. I do have to quote one part from it. I’d never heard of the comedy duo Mitchell and Webb, but I’m going to have to check them out. As quoted from the article…
“Are you personally affected by this issue? Then email us. Or if you’re not affected by this issue, can you imagine what it would be like if you were? Or if you are affected by it, but don’t want to talk about it, can you imagine what it would be like not being affected by it? Why not email us? You may not know anything about the issue, but I bet you reckon something. So why not tell us what you reckon. Let us enjoy the full majesty of your uninformed, ad hoc reckon, by going to bbc.co.uk, clicking on ‘what I reckon’ and then simply beating on the keyboard with your fists or head.”