Wikinomics? What in the world does this mean?


The new definition of Collaboration is Wikinomics.  Businesses will thrive in the future if they are willing to work together to find creative and innovative methods to further their growth and market presence.  The principles of Wikinomics are simple yet provocative.  In a world where market competition has ruled the pedagogy, this new philosophy may be hard for some companies to embrace.

1.       Being Open:  Companies who operate with an open perimeter are outperforming traditional companies as people are able to participate more freely and have the opportunity to have input on products and business practices.

2.      Peering:  Pulls together the power of self-organizing.  It is a method based on the principle of collaboration rather than hierarchical order.

3.      Sharing:  Companies are “sharing” their research and development practices and intellectual property in order to maximize their capabilities.

4.      Acting Globally:  Companies in this new Global Era need to maintain their Global presence and network to maximize their growth and sustainability.

In “Harnessing the Power of Wikinomics” we pay homage to the foundation built by Linux, MySpace, and Wikipedia as they pioneered the way for collective thoughts and creativity but the world of collaboration a.k.a Wikinomics takes it to a whole new level.  The traditional closed business model is DEAD as this book claims the ONLY way to grow and prosper is to engage in open collaboration.  This method is the key to innovative research, the collection of bright minds, and an unlimited amount of creative and modern ideas and solutions.  These valued added components will lead to a bright and fruitful future.  But, does this Wikinomics model work for every company?  I think that these principles are good to acknowledged and consider but, it is important to decide whether these principles will further the growth of your company and whether they are worth the risks involved.

Published in: on April 20, 2009 at 2:40 am  Leave a Comment  

“Respect. Empower. Include.”

“Respect. Empower. Include.”

These words were the motto for Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign.  These words are powerful in that it this campaign provided the first opportunity for the average American citizen to play an active role in our political process.  Obama’s campaign has revamped our political process and elevated the public’s expectations.  Campaigns will no longer be run by a few Washington elites but, rather Americans will demand more opportunities for involvement and leadership. 

After working and volunteering for several campaigns I was incredibly impressed with the amount of time and resources put into Obama’s volunteer corp.  The weekly volunteer camps and training seminars not only educated volunteers it also empowered them.  The combination of education and empowerment put volunteers on the ground that were well equipped and effective.  By creating an environment where “volunteer leadership” was expected and encouraged, it mobilized many groups who were not previously involved in the political process.  The most notably of these groups was American youth. 

The potential of the youth movement had not been tapped in to by previous campaigns.  Obama used various internet tools to create a youth community that proved to be not only passionate but effective.  By using social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, along with creative viral videos (Celebrity Yes, We Can and Obama Girl) and, the campaign was able to tap into youth by speaking their language.  It was able to turn an otherwise “typical” presidential campaign into something that was hip and cool for youth to get involved. 

So what does this mean for future campaigns?  Can Obama keep people energized and motivated?  The massive community Obama has created must be nurtured as Zach Exley stated in his Huffington Post article “The New Organizers:  What’s really behind Obama’s Ground Game”, “ Obama must continue to feed and lead the organization they have built-either as President or as opposition”.  It may be too early to tell how effectively Obama is connecting with his community now that he is in the White House but, one thing is for sure, politics will never be the same. 

Thank you President Obama!

Published in: on April 6, 2009 at 3:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Groundswell: Energize!

In finishing up the book Groundswell, Bernoff suggests some interesting ways to “energize” and implement Groundswell in your business activities.  He claims that it is important to “create a community to energize your customers”.  This technique really only works if your customers are passionate about your product.  This online community can help create a marketing tool for your product.  In marketing often the best approach is to have others sell your products.   Another suggestion Bernoff makes  is to “participate in and energize online communities of your brand enthusiasts”.  By actively participating in your products and the discussion of them, it allows the customer to feel more connected and engaged in the process.  This connection often turns into brand loyalty which ultimately turns into revenue.

In a sheer moment of weakness and insomnia, I recently purchased the box set of Tae Bo.  With this box set, I received access to an online community of other Tae Bo users along with online personal training tips from Billy Blanks himself!!  Being a little curious about this “online Tae Bo community”, I logged on to see what all of the hype was about.  I realized that it was an incredible marketing tool!  All of the (overly energetic) users were discussing their progress and how all sorts of Billy Blanks products had changed their lives.  I found myself on the website looking at the different products (this time with more restraint).   Although I have only used my DVD set once, I must say Tae Bo has quite an internet following.    The online community Billy Blanks has created is passionate and truly energetic about his products. 

Also, Billy Blanks is an active participant in your daily work outs.  He sends emails to the group, posts on the community board, and often engages in online chats.  His motivational interactions have helped to further create brand loyalty while strengthening people’s commitment to live healthier lives.  This business has effectively used Groundswell in a way that has boosted sells while also increasing customer commitment and satisfaction. 

Although I have not actively engaged in this online community (or in the DVDs yet), it is a good reminder that this method of marketing is effective. 

As for now, it is only makes me feel guilty…



Published in: on April 6, 2009 at 2:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

Newspapers Shut Their Doors…

To date both the Rocky Mountain News and the Seattle PI  have closed.  What does this mean for the future of journalism?   Without active investigative reporting how can we keep our Government accountable and our Democracy thriving? These are important issues we should all be thinking about…

Published in: on March 18, 2009 at 7:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

PPP 359: Paper Proposal

Paper Proposal for PPP359

I would like to work on The Lone Star Detectives Initiative with Paul Adrian. My portion of the paper would explore the group dynamics and “power” around an online policy discussion. The Initiative would give citizens a forum to discuss policy issues and better communicate with their elective officials. We hope to create an open online dialogue between legislators and their constituents. This paper would also explore why legislators and their staffs aren’t more engaged with online networks (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace) to better connect with the public. These groups / social networks are utilized effectively through campaigns but, rarely through governance. How can we successfully use a tool like The Lone Star Detectives Initiative to create a useful forum for open dialogue with our elected officials?

This paper will include both active and original research for the findings. To help answer the “why” I would like to conduct interviews with elected officials and their staffs on both the State and Federal levels. Hopefully from these interviews we can better understand why these types of networks are not utilized and how we can make The Lone Star Detectives Initiative an effective forum for the public and our legislators.

 Possible Interview Candidates and their Staffs:

• State Representative Chris Turner, D-Dallas

• State Representative Joe Crabb, R-Houston

• State Representative Jim Dunham, D-Waco

• State Representative Fred Brown, R-College Station

• U.S. Congressman Chet Edwards, D-Waco

• U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett Lee, D-Austin

• U.S. Congresswoman Kaye Granger, R-Dallas

• U.S. Congressman John Carter, R-Round Rock

Published in: on March 18, 2009 at 7:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Groundswell-Companies should take notice

Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff is an interesting look at new technologies and how they empower people. “Groundswell” is defined by the book, as “a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from the traditional institutions like corporations.” (p.9)

The book argues that people, technology, and the economy are the three main factors of Groundswell. Large Corporations no longer have control of the media as they once did. With the ever expanding sources of media that now include blogs and social networking sites, it is even harder for corporations to keep up. This has put the people back in charge!

The book takes an interesting look at technologies such as wikis, open source, RSS feeds, blogs, social networking sites, tags, and widgets and how they threaten institutions. It lays out a set of objectives companies can use to be successful in the Groundswell. Although I think these business/marketing/PR techniques are useful, they should be done in addition to rather than instead of.

We may be moving more and more to a digital world but we have not yet completely abandoned traditional forms of communication and media. With more and more people on-line, companies are starting to make policies forbidding web surfing or blocking “recreational” websites. Without the ability to get on social networking sites and other websites during a work day, it may be more difficult for advertisers to reach customers. Also, there is still a generational gap among internet users. I think it is more important for companies to first identify their audience and then evaluate whether or not internet advertising and/ or blogging would increase their bottom line.

For some companies using sites like Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace, are great ways to reach their target audiences. Internet advertising is still far cheaper than producing and airing television commercials. My argument is that companies need to evaluate their target audiences and advertise accordingly. If buying into the Groundswell makes sense-then go for it! 

One thing companies should take into consideration is that technology has put people back into the driver’s seat.  Isn’t that where consumers belong…

Published in: on March 16, 2009 at 12:15 am  Leave a Comment  

Web 2.0?

What is Web 2.0?

Tim O’Reilly’s article, “What is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software” sets principle and distinctions between the worlds of Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. If this is the first time you have heard of the two worlds don’t be alarmed- Me Too!

For those of us that need help understanding these two models, O’Reilly starts by giving some familiar examples to help make the distinction:

 Web 1.0                                           Web 2.0

DoubleClick                                   Google Ad Sense

Ofoto                                               Flickr

Britannica Online                        Wikipedia

Personal Websites                       Blogging

Evite                                       and EVDB

Page Views                                    Cost per Click

Don’t be alarmed if after reading this list you realize that you still operate in Web 1.0. This change to Web 2.0 has happened quickly and has seemingly gone unnoticed to the average computer user. Yes, you may still use Evite or personal websites but, the new found world of blogging, Flickr, and Wiki have arrived. The above list is a good way to start thinking about the seven principles O’Reilly lays out in his article. I am going to highlight and discuss few that really speak to the average internet user:

The Web as Platform: This principle really touches on the old world of expensive software packages and updates—Can we say Microsoft! Companies such as Google have developed models that have used a “platform” to build software that is delivered as a service. These services don’t require update releases at the User’s expense.

Harnessing Collective Intelligence: This principle really adds value for the User. From this principle companies like Google, Yahoo!, Amazon, and eBay, have flourished. They have all used the power and capability of the web to gather important and useful information for Users.

End of the Software Release Cycle: What does this mean for Users? It means we are getting a constantly updated service rather than paying for a specialized product. For example, Google has to crawl the web multiple times a day to stay updated and relevant for its Users. It also means that as a User you are also valued as a Co-Developer. This open source method allows for data we collect to be used to update these services.

Rich User Experience: Programs such as Gmail, Firefox, and Google Maps have all found ways to enhance the User experience by providing helpful and interesting features. They have raised the bar for basic internet needs like email, search, and web launch.

As you can see, the evolution from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 has actually benefited us as Users (even if we did not know if was occurring). This transformation does bring up a few questions about companies such as Microsoft. As a giant in the world of Web 1.0, will they be able to continue their reign in the world of Web 2.0? Should Microsoft adopt more open source practices? Is it our job as consumers to demand this adoption? These are interesting questions to ponder as we the Users are increasing finding more power and appreciation in the world of Web 2.0.

Published in: on March 9, 2009 at 4:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

Google, Can it Make You or Break You?

In Chapters 7-10 of The Search, it describes how it can do both. Many small Internet companies started seeing dollar signs because of the traffic Google generated to their site. These companies made up about $25 Billion dollars of the Internet business. How? One simple word…Google! The magic of Google and its , E commerce power is ruled by a complex ranking system. Companies that are able to come up on the first page of Google’s organic search stand a good chance of making money. Google has gone to great lengths to consistently update its indexes to try and punish spammers and penalize those who are gaming the system. In doing this, many Internet businesses have suffered because they no longer find themselves at the top of Google’s organic searches.

 John Battelle raises some good questions about Google’s search results, “How does [Google] make these decisions? How do you draw a line between pure, organic listings and paid listings?” Google has not given a straight answer to these questions however; it does reserve the right to make adjustments to their indexes. These adjustments can be made whenever and however Google sees fit. The problem is that we as consumers trust that Google will always be fair. How can we be sure? Who is policing the policeman? All we can be sure of is that these two questions permeate throughout all of Google’s business dealings.

Search engines such as Google have had profound impact on our economy and on our industries. For example, the Real Estate business has completely changed because consumers can now type in their location, preference, and amenities and find property instantly. This process bypasses the need to go through a Realtor or property manager. Other industries such as the travel, music, retail, banking, and entertainment have all been affected by the power of search.

Google has also had to wrestle with its own issues. Over the relatively short life of Google it has grown in ways that were unimaginable. It has found its way into China (not without difficulties) and to the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Both of these roads were rough for Google as it had to make decisions contrary to its culture. As Google looks towards the future its growth and power will be monitored not only by its stock prices but, also by its users… Or will it?

Although Google has record of our private searches and interactions, I cannot imagine life without it.  The search engine has become the easiest and fastest way to find information, news, and email.  Yes, Google has incredible power and limits our privacy but, are we really ready to give it up or limit its use? 

Published in: on March 2, 2009 at 4:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Search Engines: Do They Work for Us or Against Us?


In Chapters 1-3 of The Search:  How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture, John Battell discusses the power of search engines like Google.  He goes through the history of the search engine starting with Archie, created in 1990 to the modern day world of Google.  Battell states that of all the Americans using the Internet, 85% of them use search engines such as Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, and Google.  Of these search engines, Google has the largest audience. 

The search industry has become one of the fastest and largest economic drivers in the media industry.  The advertising power these companies have acquired has heavily impacted consumer behavior. Most search engines now have paid advertisements that pop up with your search results.  As more consumers are shopping online from work, home, and even from mobile devices, the Internet advertising industry is here to stay and may prove to be the most effective way to impact consumer behavior over time.

How much power does Google really have?  You probably don’t ask yourself this question every time you “Google”.  In fact, each time you use Google for a search data is collected. This data indicates what you want, what you are interested in, and how you plan to use the information.  Google has the unique ability to understand exactly what the public wants and needs.  In essence, Google has a digital fingerprint on all of us that can be retrieved on command at anytime. This can be helpful information but can also be dangerously invasive.  It can in fact, strip us entirely of our personal privacy and  our civil liberties. 

Have we put too much trust in companies like Google?  After the horrific attacks on September 11th, the Bush Administration pushed through the US PATRIOT Act.  This piece of legislation was in response to the fear and direct threat of future terrorist attacks.  This Act allows the U.S. Government to demand from companies like Google to turn over our entire digital footprints without us ever knowing a request has been made.   This would include all email records: who you sent emails to, when you sent them, the length of the emails, where you sent the emails from, and whether attachments were included in the emails.   

The issue of privacy vs. security raises some interesting questions.  As Americans do we have to give up our privacy to be secure?  By giving up our privacy/individual freedoms, are we weakening our democracy? How much do we really want the government in our personal lives?  Every time we log on to our personal computer is that information really personal? Those are all questions we as a Nation are still struggling  to answer.  

On a positive note, technology has been used to better connect the people to their government.  It has been used to keep our elected officials accountable, communicate with our leaders, and has served as a way to express our opinions on issues facing our country.  As a result many political blogs such as The Huffington Post, The Politico, Real Clear Politics, and one from my home state of Texas, The Burnt Orange Report have emerged as additional news sources.  These political blogs have worked to better keep our elected officials accountable and keep the public more informed.   Other online features such as Google groups and social networking sites have also served as a way to organize and inform.  All of these Internet tools have created an enviroment where more people can become involved in the political process and the workings of our government.





Published in: on February 18, 2009 at 5:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Newspapers R.I.P: Not so fast…

On January 26, 2009, The New Yorker published an article, “Back Issues:  The Day the Newspaper Died”.  Are newspapers really dead yet?  According to this article, the last time the newspaper industry faced such dark days was in 1765 with the Stamp Act– a new tax created by London’s Parliament.  This Act required the colonies to put government issued stamps on each printed page.  This tax hit the newspaper industry hard but, did not kill it entirely.  The death of the newspaper during this time meant the death of Liberty.

 What does it mean for us now?  It is hard to say exactly what it means for our society, our democracy, and our way of life.  The article expresses a good point that we all need to keep in mind during this time of technology and change, “Some struggles never end. And it’s not the newspaper that’s forever at risk of dying and needing to be raised from the grave. It’s the freedom of the press.”  Whether the newspaper will be around to curl up with each morning while the coffee is brewing is hard to say but, it is the freedom that it symbolizes that we should never compromise or let die.

Published in: on February 17, 2009 at 3:25 am  Leave a Comment