Assignment 3: Review of ‘Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything”

Wikinomics coverWhen I glanced through the list of publications to be reviewed for the third assignment on the Hyperlinked Library MOOC I realized that Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott and Anthony D Williams was already in my bookshelves, but I hadn’t got around to reading it. The assignment therefore provided the motivation to take it down from the shelf and put my feet up while I skimmed through the book.

The notes I made were written seven years after the book was published. And as the book has had a significant impact I feel that I am familiar with the core concepts without having opened the book. The book’s sub-title “How mass collaboration changes everything” provides a summary of my expectations of the content of the book. It will, I felt, provide a variety of anecdotes of how exploitation of social media and associated principles (such as the Web 2.0 ideas of ‘always beta‘ and ‘trust the users‘) will be shown to have had beneficial effects.

By page 2 the rhetoric, however, was beginning to grate. The statement “this new economic model extends beyond software, music, publishing, pharmaceuticals, and other bellwethers to virtually every part of the global economy” was followed by an admission that “many managers have concluded that the new mass collaboration is far from benign“. And yet in the following paragraph such concerns are dismissed: “Yes, there are examples of pain and suffering in industries that have so far failed to grasp the new economic logic. But the forthcoming pages are filled with many tales of how ordinary people and forms are linking up in imagine ways to drive innovation and success“. The concerns that exploitation of new social technologies may not always have beneficial effects is dismissed with the comments that those who may have such reservations simply “fail to grasp the new economic logic“. However there is no need to be too concerned about such clearly flawed views as the holders of such views have only “so far” failed to accept the new reality. I wonder what fate will await those who continue to hold views which are less than gushing about the new environment!

What companies are helping to build this ‘brave new world’? I’m still reading page 2 and I’m hearing how “a number of the stories revolve around the explosive growth of phenomena such as MySpace, InnoCentive, flickr, Second Life, YouTube and the Human Genome Project“. MySpace, Second Life? Looking at TechCrunch articles on MySpace I find posts which describe how “Obviously MySpace has very few friends left to alienate — Tom has long since moved on — but that hasn’t stopped it annoying the hell out of its few remaining fans by forcing through an update to its shiny new music discovery platform that’s swallowed their old blog content, with no guarantee it’s ever going to be retrievable” (12 June 2013) and “MySpace Squandered the Only Thing It Had Left” (2 Feb 2013).

But since the authors’ arguments were based on the role of mass collaboration to stimulate innovation, creativity and growth it would be inappropriate to place too much emphasis on the failures of specific companies. By page three the authors had described how they had carried out large-scale surveys which “explored how new technology and collaborative models change business designs and competitive dynamics“. Of course the authors expressed no reservations in summarizing the reports: “The conclusion from all of this work is striking and enormously positive. Billions of connected individuals can now actively participate in innovation, wealth creation, and social development in ways we once only dreamed of.

So the large numbers who update their Facebook profile with their views on the contestants on X-Factor on a Saturday night or engage in discussions on Twitter about Strictly Come Dancing will, I assume, be classed as actively participating in ‘social development’. But whilst it may be inappropriate to be dismissive of popular culture (after all, I watched Coronation Street and listened to The Archers for many years) what of the bullying, racial abuse and similar ways in which social media is being used? Where does this fit in with Tapscott and Williams’ utopian views?

They are, however, on safer ground when they point out the innovation and wealth creation surrounding popular social media services. Clearly companies such as Google and Facebook (who, incidentally, aren’t mentioned in the book) have developed innovative services and do make lots of money. But how do they make their money? From advertising and monetized the attention data from the large numbers of users who access their services. We do not seem to be seeing a sharing of the wealth creation but rather centralization. You may welcome this (‘it’s what capitalism is about’) or be critical (‘technological developments should provide benefits to all’). But you won’t find such issues being addressed in the book.

The book was published in 2006, before the economic crash. I wonder if there was another book written at the same time which described the wealth creation which marketing of sub-prime mortgages was responsible for?!

The book concludes with the question “Is your mind wired for wikinomics?” Perhaps it is; after all I am happy to make use of social media to support my professional activities and share approaches with my user communities. But this doesn’t mean I’m right. Or that what works for me necessarily works for others and in different circumstances.

To summarise the book in a tweet “Wikinomics: optimistic view of social media from 2006. It is now time to revisit benefits of mass collaboration with a critical perspective.“.



Implementing Ideas I’ve Gained From The Hyperlinked Library MOOC

Earlier this week I attended the Internet Librarian Conference, ILI 2013. This is my favourite library conference and I’ve attended (and spoken at) 14 of the 15 conferences. It is also the conference were I often meet Michael Stephens, a regular inspirational speaker at the event.

This year I ran a day-long workshop on “Future Technologies and Their Applications“. As I described in a blog post about the workshop I used the planning for the deployment of emerging technologies which formed the basis of the Emerging Technology Planning assignment on this MOOC.

The slides I used for this particular exercise are available on Slideshare and embedded below. Many thanks to Michael and Kyle for showing me this approach which helped me in the preparation and delivery of the workshop. Note that the slides I used in the workshop are available with a Creative Commons licence and I invite others who may have responsibilities for delivering such workshop to make use of these resources.

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Assignment 2: Emerging Technology Planning

Remit For The Second Assignment

The remit for the second assignment in the Hyperlinked Library MOOC is to “craft a  plan for incorporating an emerging technology or participatory service into a library setting of your choice“.

Selecting an Emerging Technological Area

The page about this second assignment suggested that topics might include blogs, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, commenting on library catalog items or a mobile app. However since I am familiar with use of Twitter and Facebook and have some experience in using mobile apps I felt that I would go beyond my comfort zone and explore use of a technology which I have little expertise in. I have designed to chose the creation of badges for my community not only because of my lack of experience in this area but also because of the doubts of the benefits of badges which I described in a post entitled “The Pros and Cons of MOOC Badges“.

Importance of Planning

In the early days of the social web the doubts and concerns expressed by those who felt social media had little or no relevance for those working in libraries tended to be rejected by the early adopters and evangelists. I myself published a paper entitled “Web 2.0: How to Stop Thinking and Start Doing: Addressing Organisational Barriers” in which I argued that organisations should stop simply taking about barriers to use of social media, embrace the technologies and base further developments on the experiences gained. Such approaches were probably relevant in 2007 when the paper was published. However six years later we have gained a broad range of experiences in use of social media and the benefits they can provide are now more widely appreciated. However we are also in a better position to appreciate the limitations of social media and the resource implications which their use will entail. In 2009 I wrote a follow-up paper entitled “Time To Stop Doing and Start Thinking: A Framework For Exploiting Web 2.0 Services” which acknowledged that there were risks associated with use of social media, but these risks should be acknowledged, understood, risks minimisation strategies adopted and organisations and individuals should be prepared to accept certain levels of risks – after all getting out of bed and travelling to work may entail risks, but we are prepared to accept such risks!

My plans for use of badges will therefore be based not just on the methodology outlined in the assignment details but also on the risks and opportunities framework described in the paper given above and further developed in a paper on “Empowering Users and Institutions: A Risks and Opportunities Framework for Exploiting the Social Web“.

It should be noted that the plans given below are being published in an open fashion and comments and feedback are welcomed; such open and transparent approaches can help provide benefits which have been described in the module on Transparency and Privacy.

Badges for the IWMW Event

In this post I have used the checklist provided in the post which outlined the requirements of this assignment.

Planning Checklist

Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:
The main objective of the “IWMW badges service” is to provide participants at IWMW events with a visible indication of their involvement in IMW events.

An important secondary objective is to provide the community with an opportunity to gain experiences of badges, which may be valuable in an institutional context.

Action Brief Statement:
The assignment suggests that an action brief is provided by filling in the blanks in the following statement:

Convince ______ that by _______ they will ________ which will ________ because _______.

Since there are two key objectives for this service I have produced the following two action brief statements:

Convince IWMW participants that by claiming an appropriate IWMW badge they will demonstrate their involvement in IWMW events which (a) will provide a visible indication of their involvement in the event which may be useful in sharing of expertise and interests beyond their host institution because of their shared participation with other attendees and (b) will demonstrate active engagement in Web development activities because of their willingness to carry out Web activities beyond their host institution.

Convince IWMW participants that by claiming an IWMW badge and engaging in discussions about the pros and cons of badges they will be better able to engage in discussions about the value of badges within their institution make which will provide benefits to the institution and the individual because they have personal experiences of the processes.

Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service:
The following resources will be used:

Mission, Guidelines and Policy related to Technology or Service:
A small group (say 3-5 people) will be established which will provide advice and suggestions on (a)  information to be
published on the purpose of the IWMW badges service; (b) the number and types of badges to be provided; (c) the design of the badges and (d) an FAQ about the IWMW badges service.

Since the badges are for participation at events, similar examples will be sought.

The FAQ will include details of guidelines for use of the badges; sustainability of the badge services; risks of use of fraudulent badges; etc.

Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service:
Sponsorship of the badges for the IWMW 2014 event will be sought.

Action Steps & Timeline:
The service will be prototyped for participants at the IWMW 2013 event. This event featured a plenary talk on “Mozilla, Open Badges and  a Learning Standard for Web Literacy” given by Doug Belshaw of the Mozilla Foundation, which generated interest in further evaluation of badges. The aim will be to make a prototype available in January 2014. There should be no additional dependencies, apart from the time needed for the work

Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service:
I will do this work.

Training for this Technology or Service:
I will read relevant resources and explore participation ij a badges MOOC.

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service:
The service will be marketed to IWMW participants and those with responsibilities for managing institutional Web service within the UK.

The numbers of badges claimed will provide an important performance metrics. In addition associated discussions about the pros and cons of such badges will be equally important.

If there is sufficient take-up of the badges, advice and support may be provided for other national bodies which organise large-scale events.

Risks and Opportunities Checklist

The risks and opportunities frameworkIn addition to the planning checklist provided by the MOOC organisers, the “Risks and Opportunities Framework for Exploiting the Social Web” mentioned previously is also being used to ensure that possible risks which may hinder the effective take-up of the services have been considered and appropriate risks minimisation approaches used.

  • Intended purpose: Covered above.
  • Benefits: Covered above.
  • Risks: Possible risks include:
    (a) There may be a lack of interest in claiming badges;
    (b) It may be time-consuming to learn about badge-making and deployment; use the tools and engage in discussions about the pros and cons of the creation and use of badges.
    (c) Due to lack of experience in this are mistakes may be may in selecting the number and granularity of the badges; the design of the badges; selection and use of badge-creation services.
  • Missed opportunities: Not engaging in this work could lead to Web managers missing out on opportunities to gain expertise in this area.
  • Costs: Felt to be little (see above)
  • Risk minimisation: Seeking feedback from other participants in the Hyperlinked Library MOOC should help in getting feedback from others with similar interests. It should be possible to make contact with key members of the IWMW community in order to discuss the development of the IWMW badges service with those who have a direct interest.
  • Evidence base: The interest in the Badges at the Library tribe on the Hyperlinked Library MOOC indicates the interest in this area.
  • Biases and subjective factors: As previously mentioned in a post which gave my Initial Reflections on The Hyperlinked Library MOOC and the Badges I Have Acquired I have some scepticism as to whether experienced Web managers would be interested in claiming badges.


I’ve found completing this assignment helpful in focusing my thoughts on the planning processes for use of badges for an event I’ve been involved with for 17 years. I’d welcome feedback on the plans, especially from those whom may be making similar plans or who have experiences (whether good or bad) in the creation of badges.