Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams latest book Macrowikinomics starts off with the sort of narrative stakes-setting that one expects from thrillers, but seldom gets from 2.0 business books (which often tend towards intangibles). From a wee girl texting from the ruble of the Haitian earthquake, Tapscott and Williams quickly build a case for how the open, collaborative flexibility of Web 2.0 can and should be leveraged by organizations and to address issues of all types, from government and education to health care, climate change, and the global economy.
Picking up where their best-selling book Wikinomics left off (Portfolio, 2007), Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World (which debuted at #9 on the WSJ Bestseller list October 3) steps back and examines how mass-collaborative forces have moved out of the techno-chic phase and are generating a “more encompassing societal shift.”
As the authors point out:
There is now a new engine of innovation and wealth creation and a powerful new force that radically drops collaboration costs and as such enables communities to collaborate on shared concerns, endeavors, and challenges.
Yet again, unlike some marketing and business books that extol the virtues of “viral” and “social” while weighing in a bit light on real-world examples, Macrowikinomics is replete with forward thinking organizations, corporations, and individuals who are putting these ideals to work and achieving real world results.
In fact, I found myself wanting to read this as an ebook so I could more easily click in and out of his examples, such as “Galaxy Zoo, where you can help astronomers explore the Universe” and Local Motors, whose “Design style, customer research, career opportunities and demand will be driven by a revolutionary virtual community, which enables styling and features to match unmet customer requirements while retaining full licensing rights.”
Of particular interest to EContent readers will be section five, in which Tapscott and Williams turn their attention to “Turning the Media Inside Out.” While many of us are painfully close to the subject of the decline of print revenue and the rise of digital dominators such as the Huffington Post, the introduction that charts this difficult path provides a good framework for ways in which Old Media can (and do) leverage openness and collaboration to fuel coverage and reduce costs. Featuring examples from media, music, film, and television, the section takes a comprehensive look at innovation, experimentation, and successes in taking a macrowikinomic approach to reinventing the business of media.
As issues such as our economic woes are increasingly interconnected and transparent—our economic crisis caused a global ripple effect of tsunamic proportions while its roots in unethical financial practices were exposed—so must the solutions to these problems be collaborative and open. Macrowikinomics is no small undertaking both in the work that clearly went into it and the formidable product produced. However even for those who choose only to focus on the sections of most interest and immediate concern, the book provides valuable insights on the promise of mass collaboration as well as how it is being put to work to solve problems on a macro and micro scale.
(Note that I read advance uncorrected proofs for this review, though I expect to receive a final copy this week and may post an update.)