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February 9, 2008

Theory & Practice on Moving Ground.

A few short points here, then I'll share something from outside the course outline in a separate entry. First, I finally subscribed to the Lifehacker RSS about a week ago, and lo and behold, a new IM/social network/email aggregator was listed: Digsby. See the Lifehacker entry for some details, I haven't signed up yet, but will by tomorrow.

Connect! This week again offered some great tips. The Orienteering method (starting on p.118) is essential to having any confidence in what you are researching online (or rather, in any answers you find), and frees you from the vagaries Google's or Yahoo's first-page search results. It's a bit slower on the front end, but you are certain to build more than enough knowledge to compensate. I also like the suggestions on page 138 for "renewing your beginner's mind". As Zalenka notes, it's easy to stagnate when you don't have a new look at the information you're working with - even when the information itself is new. I've inadvertently done a few of these things in the past when I've reached this point, and intend to practice them more frequently in the future.

Wikinomics seems to be the topic of the week, and I'll make most of my comments on the already extensive blogs by the rest of you. However, I do want to note that the chapter was somewhat troublesome to me in the same way as our Week One readings from Connect! (blog), in that Tapscott & Williams seemed to be going back and forth. Throughout Chapter 4 (p.97-123), they make strong prescriptive statements, but often immediately hedge them against current realities. The conclusion on page 123 brings that all together. Both sides are indeed necessary, and I fully agree with advocating the advance of technology and with pushing perspectives on innovation and open-sourcing, etc., but to me the argument is hurt by trying to play both sides in this fashion.

Caught in the Web

Like the majority of web users, I have spent my fair share of time getting caught in the web. I have spent time running down back alley urls only to find myself so far from where I started, that I had no idea how to get back. Generally, these searches resulted in me ending up with the content that I was seeking; I just had to travel in ten different directions to get it.
This week was the first week that I worked with “social book marking� tools. The book marking utility that we are using, Del.icio.us, is quite an impressive tool. In my opinion, its one of those things that you stumble upon (no website pun intended) and ask yourself, “Why didn’t anybody think of this sooner?�
Being able to source quality information from essentially a limitless amount of users will be very bitter sweet. Arguably, with social book marking, the user chooses the quality of information that they list. So you might still find yourself with a few bumps in your research road, but, for the most part, the information should be good.
Along the same lines as social book marking, “Ideagoras� as described by Wikinomics, are “Marketplaces for ideas, innovations, and uniquely qualified minds.� (Wikinomics, 2006, p.97) InnoCentive is one of the ideagoras mentioned in the book. This idea mill now offers solutions to an estimated “thirty-five Fortune 500 companies.� (Wikinomics, 2006, p.98)
I’m not quite sure how I feel about these ideagoras. The major benefits are obvious. The question becomes, what makes you stand out to a company. If they can get your services from places like InnoCentive, InnovationXchange Network, YourEncore, and others, is there justification for spending $1.5 billion on internal R&D, such as Procter & Gamble did in the late 1990s? (Wikinomics, 2006, p. 103) Where else would these kinds of funds come from? If it is a multiple company investment, which companies get the rights to the patents? Who gets to work on the project? How are they chosen? With global collaboration, where is the R&D conducted? I could go on listing questions. These all spiral from the original ideagoras. My main curiosity will be how the industry chooses to manage the work done with ideagoras and the intellectual property rights. Since this is so new, there are still a lot of pieces that need to get sorted out. Only time will tell how the pieces fall into place.

February 8, 2008

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.

February 7, 2008

Knowledge as a Commodity... Hmm...

Live on the web is becoming more and more prominent with the expansion of fiber optics, satellite connects, and digital infrastructures. With such infrastructures, the ability to input and output data quickly and readily becomes more of an art then a skill. I have spent years becoming proficient in the art of searching for obscure data, items, or whatever else might come to mind and without the search engines, news feeds, and online participation with group forums, these endeavors would be futile. The concept of orienteering (Connect p.118-119) has proven most useful over the years in allowing me to take bits and pieces of incremental data and combine them into something grand. For example, some of the most unique gifts that I have found for people came from obscure and difficult to find areas that weren't even found on ebay.

Given the age where knowledge is a marketable commodity, it becomes important to expand ourselves into the digital world and to know all that we can in order to succeed. That said, I do find this whole concept a little overwhelming. Even with the advanced search tools and ability to communicate with nearly anyone who's connected, there is still far too much data for any single person to follow, find, or utilize effectively within their lifetime. This results in the need for a coordinating system based on market principles. I think this is what the final pages of wikinomics were getting at. (wikinomics p.122-123). The ability to R&D globally within a controlled environment in order to maximize IP while maintaining progress.

1. Tapscott and Williams. Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything. Portfolio Hardcover, 2006. Pg. 97-123.
2. Zelenka and Sohn. Connect!: Web Worker Daily’s Guide to a New Way of Working. Wiley, 2008. Pg. 113-139.

Continue reading "Knowledge as a Commodity... Hmm..." »

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.

What’s really radical about open innovation

The authors of Wikinomics effectively convince readers that ideagoras are a fascinating and novel business phenomena but not one deserving their unqualified praise. Tapscott and Williams tend to overstate how revolutionary ideagoras are and obscure the negative impact of open innovation on labor in scientific and technological industries. Nor do they appreciate that the business model is bred by and profits from contradictions generated by the capitalist system itself. Nonetheless, ideagoras are an important development. The genius of ideagoras, however, is that they can do what business won’t: free resources for the creation of social goods, not just profits.

Tapscott and Williams argue that ideagoras are making permanent structural changes in traditional research and development processes. They report that venerated global corporations like Proctor & Gamble, Dow, DuPont, and Eli Lilly are seeking external sources of intellectual capital and resources for innovation via the Internet rather than using their own R&D departments (Tapscott and Williams, 2006, pg. 98). Ideagoras make it possible for corporations to engage and profit from the world’s best talent and resources without the cost of employing researchers and maintaining laboratories. Although most research and development is still conducted internally, Tapscott and Williams predict that companies will increasingly abandon the previous “invention model� for free market mechanisms that promote “fluid exchange of ideas and human capital (Tapscott and Williams, 2006, pg. 101-102). They cite Proctor and Gamble as a trendsetter, stating that the company seeks to source at least 50 percent of ideas for new products and services externally by 2010 (Tapscott and Williams, 2006, 106). They also cite AT&T, IBM, and Texas Instruments as trendsetters in another open innovation enterprise: licensing out intellectual property (Tapscott and Williams, 2006, 104).

Advertising patented ideas and inventions to the world is indeed a radical idea but not one that is revolutionizing business. By Tapscott and Williams’ own account, this ideagora concept was an attempt to resolve systemic problems bred by business itself. They point out that many of the pioneers of ideagoras realized their companies possessed thousands of unused patents that cost millions to develop but which their own business models prevented them from using. Companies found that 70-90% of their patents were considered unprofitable or “…a poor fit with a company’s brands and strategy (Tapscott and Williams, 2006, 102).� It seems only natural that these companies would develop a way to profit from these costly idle assets.

Nor is externally sourcing human capital and ideas a revolutionary concept. Tapscott and Williams argue that to remain competitive, companies must keep accelerating the pace of innovation. Businesses are now confronted with a dilemma of their own making: innovate or die. Moreover, keeping pace requires finding and tapping new and larger sources of scientists and engineers. As the authors point out, however, companies can’t afford to employ an unlimited number of researchers. Again, it seems only logical that businesses would seek to resolve this problem. Offering cash prizes to “freelance� researchers is providing both a cost-effective and highly profitable way to find and take advantage of top talent.

Ideagoras provide the optimal solution for both systemic contradictions. But Tapscott and Williams observe that “As companies climb up the open innovation learning curve, however, they soon discover that the real value of an open market for innovation lies in getting access to external ideas that can fill performance gaps or fuel their product pipelines (Tapscott and Williams, 2006, pg. 107).�

IBM, for example, has profited handsomely from the open innovation economy. An article published in The Economist last fall reports that the company made the radical move to using Linux software while continuing to churn out record numbers of patents for which they earn licensing fees of approximately $1 billion dollars a year (Economist.com, 11 October, 2007). Moreover, “Since an army of programmers around the world work on developing Linux essentially at no cost, IBM now has an extremely cheap and reobust operating system. It makes money by providing its clients with services that support the se of Linux—and charging them for it. Using open-source software save IBM a whopping $400m a year… (Economist.com, 11 October, 2007).�

Ideagoras are not truly revolutionary because they are not changing the fundamental structure or dynamics of the capitalist system. They are nonetheless, serendipitously ingenious. Tapscott and Williams hint at the ways companies like yet2.com and Innocentive enable progressive enterprises to transform propriety knowledge into important social goods. They report that through yet2.com, one small company was able to purchase a drug-delivery technology developed but neglected by Proctor & Gamble that offers an attractive and innovative approach to diabetes management (Tapscott and Williams, 2006, pg. 105).

The drug-delivery technology cited in Wikinomics is only one hundreds of the socially responsible ideas and innovations now available through open innovation communities. Yet2.com, for example, is currently featuring a patent for a biodegradable plastic that is “ … a more economic alternative than probably any other “green� and biodegradable plastics—and in fact more economic than most other non-“green� plastics, too (Yet2.com, 4 February, 2008).� They are also selling an all-natural preservative composed of white mustard essential oil that is an effective and cheaper alternative to artificial preservatives (Yet2.com, 4 February, 2008)� as well as acid extract from birch bark with potential agricultural and pharmaceutical applications including treatment of HIV, cancer, MRSA and skin protection (Yet2.com, 4 February, 2008).

InnoCentive has gone a step further and is actively seeking opportunities to apply open innovation models including crowdsourcing, collaborative competition and user-driven innovation to benefit people in developing countries (InnoCentive.com, 4 February, 2008). Of these models, user-driven innovation is the most “revolutionary� because it draws on the natural resourcefulness, creativity and competency of poor people to develop culturally and socially-specific solutions for their particular problems. InnoCentive is emphasizing two nonprofit approaches to user-driven innovation: Positive Deviance and Rural Innovations Network. Both are grassroots, organic models that evolve from the intelligence and creativity of local communities. These initiatives are finding effective, sustainable solutions to malnutrition and disease, human trafficking, illiteracy and corruption.

Innovation models like positive deviance and rural innovations networks are the real genius of ideagoras. It’s unfortunate that Tapscott and Williams mistook as revolutionary what amounts to more business as usual.

Sara 7 February.2008

________________________________________________________________________
References

InnoCentive.com
http://www.innocentive.com/servlets/project/Pavilion.po?o=Rockefeller%20Foundationv
Retrived on 4 February, 2008.

Tapscott and Williams. Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything. Portfolio Hardcover, 2006.

Yet2.com
http://www.yet2.com/app/insight/techofweek/41645?sid=200
Retrived on 4 February, 2008.

Innovation = Success

Like a broken record we are learning that innovation starts with combining many ideas, expertise, and talents across a diverse blogosphere. The chapter in Wikinomics just shed more light on how businesses have expanded their capacity to provide products and services faster by opening up their intellectual properties to the world to help solve problems that they could not do from within, and like the title of my last post; two heads are better than one. This is especially helpful when the budget is tight. Like InnoCentive, NineSigma, Innovation Relay Centers, and Eureka Medical that "post R & D problems on their web site, [while] solvers submit their solutions in a bid to capture cash prizes ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 (Wikinomics, pg. 98), are prospering using these global marketplaces or "ideagoras" to push past the closed silo idea that, "retain[ing] all of your best people internally" (Wikinomics pg. 99) is the best solution.

Revenue has boomed within companies that are willing to open up their resources to the world and are presently breaking down monopolies that rely on outsourcing alone. For every action there is a re-action. Does this mean that companies that take full advantage of open source networking will down-size or lay-off their existing employees from within? If this new innovative strategy helps to rake in more money annually, and costs less, what are they paying their employees for, who cannot come up with such qualified solutions? Where do businesses draw the line between who they want to keep and who they want to get rid of? I would imagine that these employees are kept on their toes by these new innovation strategies. "The corporate R & D process must look two ways: toward its internal projects and competencies and toward the external marketplace to leverage new IP and capabilities" (Wikinomics pg. 123). So I think it is safe to say that businesses need to have a happy medium between both to prosper and not just one or another.

The reading in Connect really helped to clarify some problems I was having to fully understanding the concept of bookmarking. The chapter provided me with sites that I never even knew existed. I especially liked memorandum.com because I realized that I had been missing out having not been informed about meme trackers. I also did not know that research had a better name: Orienteering. I found myself using this approach last semester when I was researching Facebook applications. I initially tried to use the teleporting approach, but I soon realized that I did not even really know the definition of applications or where they originated from and why. As I took smaller steps towards my goal of researching Facebook applications, I became much more knowledgeable about web applications in general, and in the end I was able to write a more insightful and fulfilling paper, and, “that confirm[ed] [I’ve] found the right thing� (Connect! Pg. 119).

As this week is coming to an end I have realized how much information I have swallowed up. The delicious site is easy to navigate through and tagging is very simple thanks to Connect and Krista’s web blog about using tags. I have only tagged a few pictures of the 35 W bridge collapse under the creative common licenses, but if you have any suggestions for me, I would be more than happy to listen.

Making the World Wide Web a Community

Last week, David S wrote in his blog, "Connect! Chapter 6 is chocked full of websites and tool sets for communicating. This is all great and wonderful, but the problem comes down to... which one(s) to use?" I totally related to what David wrote. This week, I read in Connect: "The web makes available so much more information that you could access before. Sometimes it might feel like too much information. (Zelenka & Sohn, 2008, p. 113)" Yes, it does feel like too much information to me at times, thus I get overwhelmed at times. However, there was a ray of hope. A couple of sentences further down, I read: "You just need the right tools and the right attitude to ensure it's a positive in your life and not a negative. You don't have to feel overwhelmed by the abundance of information and communication available online. You can feel inspired and motivated by it instead. (Zelenka & Sohn, 2008, p. 113)" Attitude is the key word. I remember when I was in high school, I was selected to go to this Leadership Weekend for chosen high school students in MN. The theme for the weekend was: "Attitude is everything." It is such a simple line; however, it goes a long way. I was inspired by the saying "Attitude is everything". Although it is hard sometimes, I try to live by it because life is so much simpler if you have a positive attitude. Take that saying and apply it to the world wide web. I could have a positive stance toward the www and be "inspired and motivated by it" or have a negative outlook and be afraid and stray away for it. I think I'll go with the first!

Besides, there are tools out there to make the web easier to navigate through, up, down, and around . . . tools that make the world wide web like a community. For example, we touched on Facebook and Twitter last week, tools that made our Writ4662 feel connected, thus a community. This week, we touched on del.icio.us, a social bookmarking site. In Connect, it uses del.icio.us as an example of a tool that makes our web surfing experience more positive and a tool for "better bookmarking" (Zelenka & Sohn, 2008, p. 114). Also mentioned was: "Now owned by Yahoo!, del.icio.us is the largest and most widely used of the social bookmarking services (Zelenka & Sohn, 2008, p. 122)" If it's used most widely, it has to be good! It went on to explain that tagging is used in del.icio.us and why tagging is so important: "Tagging is easier than filing into a folder system because you can add as many tags as you want instead of having to choose just one folder. (Zelenka & Sohn, 2008, p. 124)" Furthermore, David Sturtz explains that, "folksonomy is the complete set of tags—one or two keywords—that users of a shared content management system apply to individual pieces of content in order to group or classify those pieces for retrieval. Users are able to instantly add terms to the folksonomy as they become necessary for a single unit of content. (Sturtz, 2004, p. 1)" It was also mentioned that, "The three most commonly cited folksonomies in action are the websites Flickr, Del.icio.us, and Furl. (Sturtz, 2004, p. 2)" Go Del.icio.us! When Sturtz had written his paper in 2004, he mentioned: "While it is clearly a popular phenomenon, it is not immediately apparent what use, if any, these organizational schemes are, and what their potential benefits might be. (Sturtz, 2004, p. 1)" Four years later, the popularity has not died down but the benefits are more apparent. Benefits include being able to log into del.iciou.us anywhere and keep your bookmarks with you as well as finding common tag words among different sites. I'm sold!

At the beginning, I had mentioned what a fellow student wrote last week in his blog. Going further back, there was another blog post that mentioned how much diversity there is in the class. I have mentioned this previously that I think diversity makes the world go 'round and if we were all the same, the world would be a very boring place. Lasting words from Connect that have held onto me are: "Seek diversity of sources. If you limit your information consumption to only sources within your own frame of reference, you are limiting your chances for fresh new ideas to burst you out of the same old thought patterns. (Zelenka & Sohn, 2008, p. 129)" That brings us to Wikipedia which introduces us to the topic of Ideagoras in which it was explained: "We call these marketplaces Ideagoras, much like the bustling agoras that sprung up in the heat of ancient Athens . . . Modern-day ideagoras such as InnoCentive serve a more specific purpose: They make ideas, inventions, and scientific expertise around the planet accessible to innovative hungry companies. (Tapscott & Williams, 2006, p. 98)" Pretty much, they are going outside the internal boundaries and reaching for external means, thus diversifying their talent pool. The web allows them to do that. InnoCentive chairman Darren Corroll responds with: "We're breaking down traditional laboratory doors and opening up an exciting new frontier where solution seekers--well-respected global corporations--can reach beyond their traditional R&D facilities and tap into more of the brightest scientific minds in the world. (Tapscott & Williams, 2006, p. 99)" Furthermore, "think of [it] as the first virtual trading floors in an emerging global idea bazaar (Tapscott & Williams, 2006, p. 99) and that "best people reside outside your corporate walls (Tapscott & Williams, 2006, p. 100)" All in all, "companies still need to break down deep-rooted biases that inhibit them from seizing opportunities to open up innovation (Tapscott & Williams, 2006, p. 112)" Once they do, they will excel. Furthermore, the world will become more of a community because they are going outside their internal walls and getting acquainted others that they might have not been acquainted with if they stayed within their corporate walls. Soon, the person from China that they do work with via e-mail or IM will seem like a click away...literally!


Continue reading "Making the World Wide Web a Community" »

Memorization and it's affects on specialization

“Your job as a web worker is not so much to memorize and absorb everything as to bring your self into connection with it all at critical points so that you can navigate the space when you need to.� – (Zelenka Connect!, p.137)

This view of Zelenka’s is not only a popular one, but one that has quickly become the dominant view in American society. Whether this view on memorization is a factor that has arisen because of the increasing availability of easy to access information or vice versa is not one that can be easily answered. The actual cause of this point of view while important to understanding how changes in popular beliefs happen it is not very relevant to how people deal with this view in their lives. However, like Zelenka mentions understanding this point of view is important to knowing how you can alter your thought processes to “make your job during web surfing much easier� (Connect!, p.134). She continued to augment this thought with the condition that you need to know a certain amount of the subject you use to be able to understand the information you find while searching. This level of knowledge about a subject is still significantly easier to reach than the level of knowledge that was required in specific subjects before information gathering online was prevalent. While this means that it is easier to become proficient in more subjects than before it means that people are specializing less then before the popularization of online knowledge gathering. This can probably be best seen in the increasing popularity of scientific and technical communicators who can act as intermediaries between those of differing and more specialization.

Virtual bookmarking

Each week of this class I have been introduced to something new in the world of Web 2.0. It is in a way overwhelming to grasp all of the different ways to socially interact now days. While I have been accustomed to surfing the web, there is so much more information to access than ever before. There is no table of contents that clearly lists all of the topics available. You simply start at a given point and see where it takes you. As Zelenka states "You need to embrace serendipity, even when you're searching for something specific" (Connect, pg. 113).

I find it interesting that I have never encountered any of the sites that I have been introduced to in the past few weeks. I have always spent my time on the web for personal reasons such as finding answers to questions that I had. I have never taken part in collaborating information with people that I have never even met. Up until now I have used my "favorites" option to mark websites that I find useful and email them to my friends if necessary. Now that we are using del.icio.us I have grown to like it and even use it for my own personal reasons. I have also introduced this to my friends and taught them how to use it. It is amazing how much information you can obtain simply from a mass collaboration. Information that I more than likely have never come across has been given from a complete stranger. The web has provided us all with an abundance of information and it keeps growing everyday. I think this quote from Maria Mitchell sums it up best "We have a hunger of the mind which asks for more knowledge of all around us, and the more we gain, the more is our desire; the more we see, the more we are capable of seeing" (Connect, pg. 114). Also, "The web is one of the most powerful tools ever used before for extending our minds. You don't have to bring the web into your mind to expand your mind. You just have to connect out and extend out the offerings of the web" (Connect, pg. 133).

While I find ideagoras to be useful in today's marketplace, I can't help but question the purpose of having people internally. This would have a great impact on the future job market. Companies today face such tough competition for new ideas and innovations that they may start to devalue having employees and embrace the new way of outsourcing. There would no longer be such a thing as job security. You would be more of a contract employee and would only get paid if your ideas and/or solutions were used. As in the case of the Werner Mueller story who stumbled across the web site InnoCentive and submitted a valuable solution to a scientific challenge. "Companies can tap emerging global marketplaces to find uniquely qualified minds and discover and develop new products and services faster and much more efficiently than they have in the past" (Wikinomics, pg. 98).

On the other hand, if you look at ideagoras in the perspective of a customer and not an employee they can be amazing. They make it possible to find out what customers really need and then invent it. They can also "lower transaction costs, deliver innovation faster, and make all participants in the marketplace more efficient. Customers would get more of what they want for lower prices" (Wikinomics, pgs. 100-101). Constant change and growth are now essential for most businesses today. I think that it is important for companies to find a balance between utilizing internal sources and ideagoras that allow accessing people with the right combination and expertise that might not otherwise been found.


Clearing My Confusion

I have become overwhelmed because there is so much on the web we can use for bookmarking and "social interaction". I put quotations around social interactions because of the lack of face-to-face interactions done through the web instead of its pre-web meaning of meeting in person. This idea intrigues and confuses me. I am a social person; I like the social interaction of meeting new people, being able to see their eyes, reading verbal and non-verbal queues. In an online world, this is not possible. Of course a picture can say a thousand words, but not the words that are necessary to really know whom you are talking to.

While reading through our chapter, "Surf Waves of Information" in Zalenka, I am coming to the conclusion that I do not have to give up this face-to-face communications, I can enhance it. First, our class set up our Facebook, and then we set up Twitter, now we are using del.icio.us, this all adds up to brainstorming in the virtual sense of the word. Like a well-tuned group of workers, we can accomplish virtually most of what we could accomplish if we were together in one room. Zelenkas idea about orienting (Zelenka, pp 118-120) is outstanding for this setting. I think I am in love with del.icio.us. Well, not really in love with it, my boyfriend might have an issue with that, but am feeling the pull towards using it more and more. It seems indispensable for any class that requires a research paper, or for brainstorming new ideas for marketing. This last idea is defined as what wikinomics really is: openness, peering, sharing, and acting globally (Tapscott & Williams, 2006, p. 99). The idea of ideagoras is perfect for this application. Even though, in my own little world, I may be a little afraid to go globally, even using it with a group of people I work with to get some new ideas to enrich a solution to a problem would be good.

One fallback to an ideagora would be the amount of solutions that may pour in. The sifting through of all the material submitted may become too time consuming and costly. However, just think about this...maybe that is where we, as Tech Writers, come in. Hmmm...a new market will arise and make us rich!! Just kidding, but it would not be a bad place to start looking for work. As stated in "Wikinomics", "Science and technology now evolve at such a great speed that even the largest companies can no longer research all the fundamental disciplines that contribute to their products" (Tapscott & Williams, 2006, p 101). It further states that they cannot control their end-to-end production process nor retain their talent inside their company, but that may be another supporting point in the work we could do online as tech writers. Pushing the envelope to "...lower the costs of communicating, collaborating, and transacting...".

February 6, 2008

Tagging and Stumbling Around

I’m glad I read Communal Categorization: The Folksonomy (Sturtz) before I started working with tagging—even though it says a complete set of tags is one or two keywords (1). It was my understanding that you shouldn’t limit it yourself, but rather use as many as you think you need (Zalenka, 124).

One of Sturtz’s comments that I found interesting was “A major benefit of the folksonomy is beginning with a blank slate on which the structure of a content space can be allowed to develop through use until patterns emerge (Haverty, 2002). Once those patterns have emerged, methods are needed to formalize those structures and form them into solidified supports for the content they describe� (5). I found that when I began using del.icio.us to move my own bookmarks online, I would see what words others had used, and I would frequently use the same words, so while there is no formal structure for tagging, there is some structure. I started working on tagging the NYTimes and it’s kind of amazing where all the links are leading me.

What I really like about Connect! is that it’s almost like an interactive book. I’ve been taking notes while I read so when I hop online I can check out what Zalenka is talking about. On Wednesday morning, I tried StumbleUpon (Zalenka, 115), and surprisingly, I was able to download it onto my work computer. Who knew that the Jackson Pollack site was interactive and that Halliburton was charged with selling nuclear technologies to Iran (http://www.projectcensored.org/censored_2007/index.htm). I like this; it’s fun and I now have a new recipe for cheesy bread that looks delicious (and it has been del.icio.us’d as a personal bookmark). But if I’m not careful, I think the entire afternoon could have been taken up by stumbling around.

I also plan on trying out a RSS and a notebook application. And once I’m unemployed, I think I’ll try setting up a custom search engine for job searches.

Ideagoras (Wikinomics, 98) are an interesting idea, but I can’t help but think of the existing R&D people within a corporation. I’m sure I’m putting too much thought into this and it is probably because of my current job situation, but do you think they are told that they’ve failed and the company is going outside of their group? Or maybe they aren’t even told and then one day, voila, the solution arrives. Or maybe they suggest it? I don’t know, but I think it might make one worried about job security, which I realize there is no such thing. Ok, enough ranting about jobs and employers…my baggage.

I was happy to see that on page 118, Tapscott doesn’t believe that all R&D should be outsourced. “Companies that invent get an opportunity to shape the future.� Not only do they shape the future, they make their own future. If you don’t own your ideas and are just making another company’s product, then you’re just a manufacturer. Or on the flip side, like the Dell/HP example, Dell isn’t the manufacturer, but just slaps their name on a (potentially) inferior product. I like the idea of a company using “its internal projects and competencies, and …the external marketplace to leverage new IP and capabilities� (123). Very smart.

Gold in Orienteering and Ideagoras

I must admit that when I read the title of the Connect! chapter assigned for this weeks reading, "Surf Waves of Information" I was disappointed. However, upon reading the chapter I was pleasantly surprised by the content. The discussion between teleporting and orienteering was one that I had never heard of before. Teleporting is what I most often do, moving straight to what I am looking for. (Zelenka, 2008, p. 120). Teleporting seems more common because often times when we are looking for something we want it immediately. I think this concept plays into the fast-pace society we live in. We strive for speed and productivity, this can be seen with drive-thru windows for food and banking and the constant demand for multitasking. Any time in which at least two activities are not being completed is though of as wasted time, particularly in the corporate world.

However, Zelenka's discussion of orienteering should be regarded as productive in that is allows for "serendipity". Orienteering is making small steps to your goal and exploring new outlets. If you choose the wrong direction or click on the wrong link you can simply backtrack and continue on (Zelenka 2008, p. 120). I personally feel that orienteering is a process that should be used more often. Although it may take more time. it also provides for the opportunity to find information that would often be skipped over with teleporting. Orienteering allows the searcher to see not only the information they are seeking but also the steps and thought patterns that lead to it which provides for greater learning (Zelenka 2008, p.121)

Zelenka provided an great segway between the Connect! reading and the Wikinomics reading, provided you read them in that order, with the topic of prospective search. According to Zelenka, prospective search is the process by which a web page informs you of updates since the last time you searched it. However, it can work for more than one page. Prospective searches can cover the entire web and will alert you when a desired topic to mentioned anywhere (Zelenka, 2008, p. 130). I personally love prospective searches and use them all the time. I currently have about 5 set up on a variety of topics related to my job. For example, anytime an article or mention of one of our clients appears on The Wall Street Journal I get a notice. This allows me to have a complete background of not only the person I am working with but the company as a whole. The more I know about my clients the better I can serve them.

Prospective searches segway well into the Wikinomics reading in that prospective searches can provide companies using ideagoras an advantage. If a company is looking for intellectual property of a certain topic or related to certain problem they can set up a prospective search to flag any discussion of these in order to find solutions quicker.

There is a difference between ideagoras and open-source software that Tapscott discusses in the chapter. Ideagoras make ideas, inventions and expertise available without regard to physical boundaries, however these usually are available for purchase (Tapscott, 2006, p. 98). Open-source software, a discussed in a previous, open data and software up to the world for modification and interpretation in an attempt to solve a problem. The individual who is able to devise the best solution is compensated for their work. Open-source software does not sell intellectual property as ideagoras often do.

Ideagoras allow companies to expand research and development past the confines of their walls and to utilize the knowledge of the entire world. This process is necessary in order for the companies to succeed in the every competitive marketplaces. (Tapscott, 2006, p. 101). I really enjoyed Tapscott's discussion of ideagoras. I often see companies protecting their intellectual property to fiercely that it inhibit growth. The idea of selling patents or intellectual property that is not benefiting the company any longer frees them up to pursue new research or to focus funds on a successful project (Tapscott, 2006, p. 104).

These readings in regard to "Mining the Web" opened my mind to the possibilities of growth and development for the company I work for. It appears that intellectual property is the new currency not in the old way of the more you have the richer you are but rather the better you utilize it the more success you will find.

February 5, 2008

Tapping Talents To Create Growth And Innovation

Like a broken record we are learning that innovation starts with combining many ideas, expertise, and talents across a diverse blogosphere. The chapter in Wikinomics just shed more light on how businesses have expanded their capacity to provide products and services faster by opening up their intellectual properties to the world to help solve problems that they could not do from within, and like the title of my last post; two heads are better than one. This is especially helpful when the budget is tight. Like InnoCentive, NineSigma, Innovation Relay Centers, and Eureka Medical that "post R & D problems on their web site, [while] solvers submit their solutions in a bid to capture cash prizes ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 (Wikinomics, pg. 98), are prospering using these global marketplaces or "ideagoras" to push past the closed silo idea that, "retain[ing] all of your best people internally" (Wikinomics pg. 99) is the best solution.

Revenue has boomed within companies that are willing to open up their resources to the world and are presently breaking down monopolies that rely on outsourcing alone. For every action there is a re-action. Does this mean that companies that take full advantage of open source networking will down-size or lay-off their existing employees from within? If this new innovative strategy helps to rake in more money annually, and costs less, what are they paying their employees for, who cannot come up with such qualified solutions? Where do businesses draw the line between who they want to keep and who they want to get rid of? I would imagine that these employees are kept on their toes by these new innovation strategies. "The corporate R & D process must look two ways: toward its internal projects and competencies, and toward the external marketplace to leverage new IP and capabilities" (Wikinomics pg. 123). So I think it is safe to say that businesses need to have a happy medium between both to prosper and not just one or another.

In the