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Meeting of Minds

Apologies again for the late blog post. I guess I know where my weakness is!

Wikinomics was fascinating this week. The concept of an "ideagora" is exactly why I love the internet, and the Pringles Print example was inspiring. I love that a business solution could be found by an Italian university professor, a continent away from and completely unrelated to the business at hand (Wikinomics 108). I can't imagine a world anymore where solutions would be confined to in-office, analong thinktanks. Ideagoras work on a personal level, too - I've fixed cars and plumbing and planned parties and large-scale work events, all by pulling ideas from the internet. My favorite "marketplace of the mind" is Ask Metafilter an online meeting of minds where people ask all sorts of helpful (and bizarre) questions.

I appreciate the quote from Alf Bingham, though "'"It requires a lot of trust to believe that you can accomplish your goals by relying on freelance scientists to come up with solutions. (Wikinomics 113).'" It's easy for me to ask an online community how to fix my toilet, and not worry about the quality or rapidity of the answers. I can see how this element would feel rather renegade and stressful for a business - in a sense, the business has to relinquish control over the process. I could see how a lot of businesses run by older CEOs (or Luddites) might feel uneasy with the ideagora concept.

Switching to this week's data mining exercise - I use del.i.cious for my personal links, and I've always found it a fabulous application. I love its barebones design - so many apps go for flashy, complicated designs and control panels, and I've always appreciated del.i.cious's urge to shy away from that. It's been interesting to gather bridge links, as well. While I've read a fair share of news about the bridge, I admit I've stayed away from the bulk of it because it seems too fresh for me. An acquaintance was injured in the collapse, and it's been difficult - though inspiring - to read about her recovery. It'll be interesting to see how we tie all of this into the wiki.

--
Tapscott and Williams. Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything. Portfolio Hardcover, 2006. Pg. 97-123.

Comments

I just checked out Ask Metafilter for the first time and in 5 minutes I learned there are several other international languages besides Esperanto, what to wear for dinner at a fancy restaurant, why toilet paper can't be flushed in Central American toilets, how not be a wimp... I would not however, trust any of the health-related information. That's probably obvious however. But you raise another question that I thought of too regarding ideagoras: how do companies evaluate the competence of the scientists who submit solutions to their contests? There must be a process in place to assure that faulty products or poor services aren't be launched on the market--especially in the litigious U.S.

I think you have a good point in the second paragraph, and it goes back to business being open and flexible. Ideagoras and web worker techniques are already important tools and will continue to grow, but in-house expertise will always be indispensable. You can get 100% accurate toilet repair instructions, you bet, but fully-formed solutions to complex science and business questions aren't just laying around out there. You're still going to need people with expertise to adapt, troubleshoot, and refine any outside ideas to your own vision/goal/specification. Because of that, I think it will be dangerous for businesses or individuals to get too far ahead of the game - an adaptive but more measured approach is going to be the way most of us forge ahead and succeed.

Yeah, the health information can be dicey on there, but there's a few doctors (who have been confirmed as actual doctors) who weigh in frequently, too.

And yes - that's definitely an issue, I'd imagine. If the scientists are supposedly the best of the best, who can judge them? There's a lot of trust involved.

I would just like to comment on corporate use of ideagoras. I think part of what makes them successful for many companies is that they can have teams scouring the internet looking for new solutions while the R&D teams are still trying to fix the current problem. The concern raised about the company not being in control of the speed or quality of the project is a valid one. However, I also think that in most instances it would rather easy for someone on the R&D team to simply look at the submitted solutions and see if they are of any value. I'm sure that they are so well versed in the project that they will be able to discern between a complete and incomplete solution. Although this is all just person speculation and I would really love to learn the logistics behind how ideagoras are put to practical use.

I agree with you about del.icio.us and simplicity. Sometimes it seems that the best products do just what they are designed to, in the clearest way possible. The website seems to always be working, loads quickly, and has just the tools needed, as far as I can tell. This course has provided me with my first experiences in social bookmarking – and so far, so good! My mother is a compulsive clipper of articles that she sends me every month or so…I’ve got her hooked up on del.icio.us now so that she can share her links directly with me and I can do the same to her! Easier, and less pressure to read immediately.

I agree with you about del.icio.us and simplicity. Sometimes it seems that the best products do just what they are designed to, in the clearest way possible. The website seems to always be working, loads quickly, and has just the tools needed, as far as I can tell. This course has provided me with my first experiences in social bookmarking – and so far, so good! My mother is a compulsive clipper of articles that she sends me every month or so…I’ve got her hooked up on del.icio.us now so that she can share her links directly with me and I can do the same to her! Easier, and less pressure to read immediately.

Ahh! Ask.metafilter…I love it! I had heard of this site somehow, but had never been to it or really knew what it was until your post. By chance, one of the questions up tonight was about places for “public privacy? in Minneapolis. Highly amusing. This site reminds me somewhat of one of my own addictions: www.tripadvisor.com (and try www.kayak.com for that matter). I do have to comment though that it feels a little too open for my taste. User profiles are very brief and the information is very ‘user beware’. Anyhoo – a new place to visit when needing a break or some new ideas. Thanks!

You bring up a lot of wonderful points in your post this week. I love your explanation of how urgency is such a factor when businesses are dealing with outsourcing information. I think that the fear of not being able to have quality information is diminishing because of how rapidly the demand for outsourced IP is growing. There is a lot the industry needs to figure out regarding the future of exchanging IP.Much of the exchanges, I believe, will be built on reputation. The key will be finding the balance between inhouse and outsourced IP.