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Today's News? Wikinomicists replaced by more uniquely qualified minds.

As a previous poster commented, I too read the Wikinomics arguments with a bit of skepticism. The arguments in favor of ideagoras from the perspective of the companies are compelling, but don’t address the greater circumstances of capitalism and job security. For instance, the authors describe the win-win situation in the case of Werner Mueller, where the company benefits because they can “tap? talented individuals without employing them full-time (Wikinomics, 98). Mueller was satisfied because he was able to exercise his love of science and was compensated for his idea. What the authors failed to discuss was the fact that Mueller was a retired research scientist. While it may be great for companies that they are able to escape insurance, pensions, and family leave by contracting their ideas via outside individuals…the authors must realize that many people are not retired and are looking for regular employment. Are large-scale ideagoras more suited to retired folks or particularly “enterprising individuals? (Wikinomics, 99)?

The full-on push for an open inventions market leaves me questioning…What of the people who are not particularly enterprising? What about the people who have busy, stressful lives? Who have children to take care of? Do these sorts of people fit into the “new? marketplace of ideas? I wonder what sort of marketplace we are setting up for our society if we take all of the authors’ arguments to heart. Certainly it would be a more competitive one, driven by profits for businesses with the spoils going to “uniquely qualified minds? (Wikinomics, 97). The authors seem convinced of the infallibility of the capitalist model. While companies streamline their R&D, perhaps new IP marketplaces will create more jobs for deal negotiators, and companies will need staff to add value to their new inventions (Wikinomics, 106). I’m just not sure I want to be a working individual in the transition period.

In a completely different direction, I was inspired by Zelenka to revisit my “ideas? files. In my file cabinet, there are a few files where I stash different articles I stumble on (now want to check out StumbleUpon!), stick notes with interesting ideas I’ve heard, or jobs I’ve wanted more information about. These files go back 10+ years, and I have never followed up on the majority of the topics. Zelenka’s information about notebook applications and scanning articles (Connect!, 117), declarative tagging tips (Connect!, 124), and prospective searching (Connect!, 130) all inspired me to dig into the files and start making some sense of my ideas. There is some good stuff stashed in there…and I am looking forward to applying my new searching/organizing methods to delve deeper into it all.


I too was inspired by Zelenka's discussion on "knowledge projects" and the tools to manage and enhance the compilation of ideas. I'm pretty much an idea pack-rat. I don't necessarily want to pursue any one idea in depth. Rather, I relish possessing a glancing knowledge of a wide landscape of ideas. I never thought of this as a "legitimate" sort of passion before. What good is an unedited repository of ideas? A memex!!! There's actually a word for it. And I can already see (thanks in large part to Zelenka) that the new Web 2.0 applications will make that much easier to assemble and manage. And sharing those ideas is the new best way to connect and build community. In fact, I've already discovered a web-site for people who are fascinated with strange animals and love to share the strange facts of their lives with other humans. In fact, I'm thinking that rather than a resume, why not deliver a memex? Wouldn't that deliver a better picture of me than sterile facts about where I've worked before? Hmmm. Ideas are blossoming.

I really appreciated your comments about the potential effect of ideagoras on labor. I asked myself the same questions. I thought the language the authors indicated they clearly did not examine the impact of open innovation from the perspective of employees. If they were company researchers how would they feel about being "kept ont heir toes?" Does sourcing external human capital keep management on its toes too or are they exempt from being outsourced? Maybe their services should be sought externally as well. (Sorry, I guess I have a strong opinion about that.) I also agree that freelancing isn't the a desirable option for everyone. As you suggested, people raising children or caretaking other people need a reliable source of income. Nor does everyone have the business savvy to succeed as an entrepreneur or "free agent." Many people lack the financial resources to set up a laboratory or even more modest enterprises either in their homes or elsewhere. In my own case, for example, starting my own freelance business would involve thousands in computer equipment and space that I don't have at home. While I relish the thought of escaping the cube environment, I'm hesitant to take the risk of losing the steady paycheck. Nonetheless, I may have to because I may soon be outsourced anyways. On the other hand, my assumption is that I should be somehow provided with opportunities to earn a steady paycheck by working for someone else. That's not a "requirement" either if we subscribe--albeit involuntarily--to the free market economic model. I started thinking about this after reading about the micro-credit system invented by Yunus Mohammad in the seventies. He recognized that most poor Pakistanis depend on self-employment for survival. They operate thousands of tiny businesses, selling whatever they can to support their families. There is a much strong tradition of entrepreneurialism in the developing world than in countries like the U.S. People like me assume someone else will pay me to work... If the Wikinomics guys are right, that may be starting to change.