Posted by: lunacouture | April 7, 2008

Collaboration is Key- Week 10 Response

Summary and Analysis

 

Wikinomics by Tapscott and Williams discusses several issues relating to the modern economy of the web and how people can use it.  The book emphasizes that collaboration is key to the advancement of internet, in any field.  The web gives you a venue to do this easily and inexpensively, and in some cases for free.  People working with each other can get ideas from a number of sources as opposed to relying solely on their own knowledge.

 

The book talks about advancement of scientific communication by providing publications free of charge on online databases. This idea of collaboration is crucial particularly to the scientific community.  Smart researchers from all over the world are now able to collaborate and contribute to the advancement of medicine worldwide.  The contribution this system will have to medicine at a global level is not to be undermined.   

 

Wikinomics sites The Human genome project as an example of scientific collaborative group effort.  The Human Genome project is an excellent example of how collaboration has helped to the advancement of society.  Thanks to this project, people can map out all of our genes and diagnose genetic diseases beforehand.  It shows that people can truly put resources and competition to the side, when building something that is beneficial for society.  This is one of the main ideas that the authors convey in Wikinomics. 

 

This idea of sharing and collaborating on the web is also noted in several blogs.  The Google blog posted on April 2nd discusses this idea of further advancing the application of Google Docs.  Through Google Docs people can “share and collaborate” their work with others on the web.  This is a great example of technological applications that lead to the expansion of ideas.  To achieve these types of collaborative networks, people must learn to use the web to their advantage.  The April 5th GigaOM blog written by Martin Stiksel writes how much more interesting the web is when we use it proactively as opposed to reactively.  He suggests to looking outside our sole interests into other web offerings that may open up a new spectrum for us. 

 

The WIkimomics blog on April 2nd talks about citizens getting together throughout the world to take part in the earth hour.  The idea is that near the end of March every year, people around the world make an effort to conserve energy for about an hour.  Although according to the blog not a huge number of people participated to this event, the effort still shows how people around the world can collaborate.  An interesting element stated in the blog is that facebook had created several events relating to earth day, fostering participation efforts.  The initiative provides yet another example of how people can work together for the greater good, using the web as a connecting tool. 

 

Wikinomics, like most of the other books on technology, discuss the importance of peer-to-peer networks.  In this case, the book points out companies such as eBay that have been able to create a strong business and online community precisely thanks to the use of peer-to-peer technology.  Through an online interaction in which consumers compare prices and leave product feedback, many find eBay to be a very comfortable option.  The business itself is constantly flourishing and I don’t see it disappearing anytime soon. 

 

Companies such as eBay have implemented a business tactic, which at least for now seems to work well with the public.  By rendering the consumer’s shopping experience “open” on the web, the company automatically establishes its credibility.  The idea is that by permitting price comparison and feedback with regards to a plethora of products offered, eBay is acting in the consumer’s best interest.  The different pricing options allow consumers to shop while remaining in their budget.  When thought out from a business point of view, companies like eBay are really a remarkable use of the web.    

 

The book also suggests that outsourcing is very important for the diffusion of ideas and products.  The example given is China’s growing motorcycle industry, which now poses a threat to other motor producing markets.  While I can see and agree with Tapscott and William, I think there are other factors to be taken into consideration.  China is exporting goods in multiple sectors because the country has expanded throughout the world.  However, some of the products have shown to be of poor quality and contain hazardous material.  It’s important to verify prior to importing from anywhere that goods are produced using safe material.

 

Wikinomics discusses how Robert Stephenson created Geek Squad and made it into a strong business.  What is particularly interesting is that Stephenson took advantage of a stereotype that fostered credibility and allowed him to provide services to the public.  By creating a strong corporate culture in which Geeks were the heroes of a crisis, Stephenson created a working environment that generated success and curiosity.  Both factors were determinant at gaining the public’s attention and maintaining a strong company culture.  A hint of originality compensated by a highly qualified team permitted Stephenson to establish a system of collaboration.  This ended up benefiting both society and his company.    

 

The Long Tail discusses the notion of how small companies are growing online and how the web is starting to shed light on smaller communities or products, that were undermined before.  It claims that people’s needs are becoming more specific, as they being to search for very pinpointed queries on the web. Through this system culture and products can be easily exported abroad and quickly, without being constrained by political boundaries.  Ideas are free to circulate and be diffused quickly. The whole idea of the long tail is that the market is starting to cater more specifically to targeted audiences.  Suiting the needs of targeted audiences that are scattered throughout the world, opens up new targeted, larger clientele for marketers.

 

John Battelle’s search blog from April 1st discusses in depth this idea of smaller brands being the ones that dominate the web.  There has definitely been a distinct change in the amount of small businesses that are starting to emerge and grow in popularity thanks to the internet.  However, Battelle admonishes his readers that online advertising still needs to be perfected.  He suggests it will be sometime still before online advertisements create the same effects on consumers than what does advertising in other more traditional forms of media. 

 

The Long Tail goes into a lot of depth about how the music industry has revolutionized in recent years.  People don’t go to record stores anymore, but tend to purchase their music online through digital means.  Consumers select the songs they are interested in rather than paying for a whole CD of songs.  File sharing also is very popular because people can effectively transfer songs to each other easily.  P2P for music files continues, despite government intervention to eliminate this type of technology in the music industry following the Napster scandal.  Experts in the field say p2p is never going to disappear, especially in foreign countries that don’t have strict copyright enforcement laws.     

 

According the book, there is more than just copyright infringement and file sharing laws to blame for the decline in sales in the music industry, such as iPods or innovative radio stations that provide listeners with additional music options.  My feeling is that it’s also the fault of the policy makers who are not coming up with effective strategies to help and protect consumer rights while wanting to protect copyrights as well.  Filing continuous lawsuits does not seem like a feasible solution to this problem, given the fact that illegal downloads are not ceasing. 

 

Synthesis

 

Wikinomics and The Long Tail have similarities in that they promote the idea of reaching out to large groups of audiences through the web to promote diffusion of ideas, products, and services. Both discuss the idea of a huge global community collaborating to disperse ideas and create new ones. Whether the collaboration occurs in the medical field in a scientific context, or simply to compare prices for an item, the idea of working together is the same. 

 

This idea of being able to spread ideas across boundaries was also reaffirmed in several instances in Scoble and Israel’s Naked Conversations.   In their book they encourage unlimited expression of ideas through the web.  The same idea of ongoing conversations is seen in We the Media, in that it discusses how people can create media by posting comments or blogs via the web.  Conversations bring about new thoughts and a diffusion of ideas, even if controversial in nature.  Conversations lead to ongoing collaboration, which relates back to the readings for this week. 

 

The two books also emphasize the fact that there is rapidly expanding technological world that keeps growing.  This notion could also link back to Smart Mobs, in which the technological world is becoming an unending plethora of options.  Also, Smart Mobs discusses the idea of small groups that agglomerate by having similar interests, using internet or mobile technology.  This notion of niches was a recurring theme in this week’s readings, particularly in The Long Tail’s discussion of targeted consumers. 

 

The Long Tail discusses the idea of using the web to search and promote small business that before were not able to reach many audiences.  This idea reminded me a lot of the recount of Moncrief’s story in Chapter 7 of John Battelle’s book The Search.  Moncrief’s story was an example of how a small business relying heavily on the web for profits was heavily reliant on web audiences to obtain profits.  The Long Tail predicts that this is the type of business that will survive in the long run and provide real competition for larger companies.   

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Responses

  1. Doesn’t collaborating and interacting with people for business or pleasure after a while become too repetitive? Peers remain peers and longtail like targetting customers might help an economic existance. Should the humanity move farther into its inner payche to explore a truth or knowledge that is more satisfying than being a mere economic cog, based on rewards, punishments or glory?


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