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Ufology The Wiki-Way?

From: Diana Cammack <cammack.nul>
Date: Fri, 1 Oct 2010 09:59:36 +0200
Archived: Fri, 01 Oct 2010 07:14:27 -0400
Subject: Ufology The Wiki-Way?

This forwarded from a friend. Is there a lesson here for UFO
research & rapid info-sharing?



Source: The Economist


Sep 23rd 2010


The Wiki Way

Two cyber-gurus take a second look at how the internet is
changing the world

After Kenya’s disputed election in 2007 Ory Okolloh, a local
lawyer and blogger, kept hearing accounts of atrocities. State
media were not interested. Private newspapers lacked the money
and manpower to investigate properly. So Ms Okolloh set up a
website that allowed anyone with a mobile phone or an internet
connection to report outbreaks of violence. She posted
eyewitness accounts online and even created maps that showed
where the killings and beatings were taking place.

Ms Okolloh has since founded an organisation called Ushahidi,
which puts her original idea into practice in various parts of
the world. It has helped Palestinians to map the violence in
Gaza and Haitians to track the impact of the earthquake that
devastated their nation in January. It even helped
Washingtonians cope with the "snowmaggedon" that brought their
city to a halt this year. Ushahidi’s success embodies the
principles of wikinomics.

Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams coined the term "wikinomics"
in their 2006 tome of that name. Their central insight was that
collaboration is getting rapidly cheaper and easier. The web
gives amateurs access to world-class communications tools and
worldwide markets. It makes it easy for large groups of people
who have never met to work together. And it super-charges
innovation: crowds of people can develop new ideas faster than
isolated geniuses and disseminate them even faster.

Mr Tapscott and Mr Williams have now written a follow-up to
their bestseller. They solicited 150 suggestions online for a
snappy title. The result, alas, was a bit dull:
"Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World". But the
book is well worth reading, for two reasons.

The first is that four years is an eternity in internet time.
The internet has become much more powerful since "Wikinomics"
was published. YouTube serves up 2 billion videos a day.
Twitterers tweet 750 times a second. Internet traffic is growing
by 40% a year. The internet has morphed into a social medium.
People post 2.5 billion photos on Facebook every month. More
than half of American teens say they are "content creators". And
it is not only people who log on to the internet these days.
Appliances do, too. Nokia, for example, has produced a prototype
of an "ecosensor" phone that can detect and report radiation and

The second reason is that the internet’s effects are more widely
felt every day. In "Wikinomics" the authors looked at its impact
on particular businesses. In their new book they look at how it
is shaking up some of the core institutions of modern society:
the media, universities, government and so on. It is a
Schumpeterian story of creative destruction.

Two of the most abject victims of wikinomics are the newspaper
and music industries. Since 2000, 72 American newspapers have
folded. Circulation has fallen by a quarter since 2007. By some
measures the music industry is doing even worse: 95% of all
music downloads are illegal and the industry that brought the
world Elvis and the Beatles is reviled by the young. Why buy
newspapers when you can get up-to-the-minute news on the web?
Why buy the latest Eminem CD when you can watch him on YouTube
for free? Or, as a teenager might put it: what’s a CD?

Other industries are just beginning to be transformed by
wikinomics. The car industry is a model of vertical integration;
yet some entrepreneurs plot its disintegration. Local Motors
produces bespoke cars for enthusiasts using a network of 4,500
designers (who compete to produce designs) and dozens of
microfactories (which purchase parts on the open market and then
assemble them). Universities are some of the most conservative
institutions on the planet, but the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology has now put all of its courses online. Such a threat
to the old way of teaching has doubtless made professors
everywhere spit sherry onto the common-room carpet. Yet more
than 200 institutions have followed suit.

Wikinomics is even rejuvenating the fusty old state. The
Estonian government approved a remarkable attempt to rid the
country of unsightly junk: volunteers used GPS devices to locate
over 10,000 illegal dumps and then unleashed an army of 50,000
people to clean them up. Other governments are beginning to
listen to more entrepreneurial employees. Vivek Kundra, now
Barack Obama’s IT guru, designed various web-based public
services for Washington, DC, when he worked for the mayor. Steve
Ressler, another American, created a group of web-enthusiasts
called Young Government Leaders and a website called GovLoop.


How can organisations profit from the power of the web rather
than being gobbled up by it? Messrs Tapscott and Williams
endorse the familiar wiki-mantras about openness and "co-
creation". But they are less starry-eyed than some. They not
only recognise the importance of profits and incentives. They
also argue that monetary rewards can be used to improve the
public and voluntary sectors. NetSquared, a non-profit group,
introduced prizes for the best ideas about social
entrepreneurship. Public-sector entrepreneurs such as Mr Kundra
are excited by the idea of creating "app stores" for the public

Messrs Tapscott and Williams sometimes get carried away with
their enthusiasm for the web. Great innovators often need the
courage to ignore the crowd. (Henry Ford was fond of saying that
if he had listened to his customers he would have produced a
better horse and buggy.) Great organisations need time to cook
up world-changing ideas. Hierarchies can be just as valuable to
the process of creative destruction as networks. But the authors
are nevertheless right to argue that the web is the most radical
force of our time. And they are surely also right to predict
that it has only just begun to work its magic.

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