Monthly Archives: December 2008

Participation, culture, and creativity.

I’ve just come across this video on Andrew Ducker‘s blog.

The video is a cut-down version of a lecture by David Gauntlett, professor of media and communications at Westminster University, in which he discusses the move from non-participative to participative culture, and the impact of Web2.0. Which we’ve already established I am quite interested in

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“Open Everything”

Back in November, I went to Open Everything, in the Roundhouse. It was the day after the US elections, and there was a slight sense of euphoria in the air.

I went out of interest in things “open” and collaboration generally, but also specifically because I had hoped to hear Charles Leadbetter at a conference in September, which I had to pull out of; since I was in the south of England anyhow, when I saw he was speaking, I took the opportunity of going along.

The meeting took place in the bowels of the Roundhouse, a former railway engine turntable shed – right in the centre. There was no natural light, and circular corridors ran around the building – it was easy to get lost (although, let’s face it, all you had to do was keep walking and you got back to where you started!).
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Wikinomics

Wikinomics has the subtitle “how mass collaboration changes everything”. I’m not sure that it proved its point, but it made interesting reading.

(In true Web2.0 fashion, the authors have a Wikinomics blog, too; I’m just writing about their book now.)

It is all about collaboration and openness, and how the authors believe that these two principles will changes the way organisations and people will work. They provide lots of interesting stories and examples of how organisations have embraced openness and collaboration in many forms, how users forced collaboration on organisations (and how it would have been better if those organisations had been open in the first place), and how the world is changing forever, however hard some organisations struggle against it.

It is a fascinating, compelling vision.

But I am not sure I really buy it. It all sounds a bit like the arguments given by those prophets of the dotcom boom in the late 1990s – the internet was changing the way the economy works, the future of organisations is being changed forever, yadayada. I don’t doubt the power of user-created content, collaborative working and open-source developments leading to new, exciting business models which change the way people chose to live and work.

But I am doubtful that these models will really wreak the havoc described, or will prove as solid as they may need to be to survive.

The authors are also consultants, and the book suffered from consultants’ myopia: they picked examples which supported their arguments. I couldn’t help thinking of the examples that have failed; and the Economist attributes the open, collaborative supply chain as a cause of worker unrest and a strike – an example praised in Wikinomics.