Thursday, September 06, 2007

Interesting article...

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, clicking on 'what I reckon' and then simply beating on the keyboard with your fists or head."


Anonymous said...

That kind of opinion piece is always entertaining, people will argue until they're blue in the face and it will increase the number of inbound links and visitors tenfold. Case in point. Some of his gripes are valid, it's not that Apple is perfect, the company can be a shitty business partner for instance, but most of it is somewhat overblown in my opinion.

Windows comes with IE, Mac OS X comes with Safari, and nowadays a web browser is bundled with every Linux distro. It's not 1997 anymore, web access is a given and it better work out of the box. Safari is not the only choice on the Mac, there are so many, I don't know where to begin. I prefer Firefox (because of the cool extensions), some people will prefer Camino (the Gecko rendering engine wrapped in a more Mac-like interface) or Opera, or another alternative browser using Safari's rendering engine, like OmniWeb, or Shiira, whatever. Other apps are built on WebKit, too, like Adium, NetNewsWire, TextMate, etc. How is this monopolistic behavior and how does it hurt customers?

iTunes is a cross platform app, Microsoft can port the Zune Marketplace and their own DRM solution on the Mac, anytime they want. The author is comparing the iPod and a full-blown PC, this is kinda odd. And yes he could install iPodLinux, the Rockbox firmware… He should also check Winamp (for iPod syncing). The part about ringtones is kinda strange. iPhone ringtones are not overpriced compared to the competition and all the money will go to a record label anyway. You can be sure that the labels will soon complain because they'd like to increase the price. NBC wanted to charge higher prices for its TV shows, bundling content and more restrictive DRMs. The so-called digital rights management are unfair to consumers and I think Apple is too slow to take action on such matters, so I don't see how I could agree with NBC's take.

Different companies, not only Apple, are working on touchscreen mobile devices. It was already the case in the 1970-80s with the first personal computers (Apple II, Atari 400, Commodore PET, TRS-80…), and later with GUIs (Mac OS, Windows, Amiga Workbench, GEOS…). How is this surprising exactly? The underlying technology is ready and the components (touchscreens, power efficient CPUs, etc.) are available for mass production. Apple, Microsoft, Nokia and the like are not supposed to invent the wheel, the piston engine, or the first light bulb, they're just supposed to put products into the hands of consumers everywhere. Some companies will be among the first to market with products incorporating new technologies but nobody will get a couple of years lead over competitors. The prototype of the LG KE850 was demonstrated like 3 months before the iPhone prototype. "Oh noes! Let's hang Steve Jobs, he's a copycat!" :-D

G. Parker said...

I think this is a cool example of what the internet can do for people, and I'm sure it's the general idea that you've promoted with Wiki stuff. Now if only I had an idea that was worth