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The book takes what is, at times, a comically breathlessly enthusiastic view on how the future is being changed by a culture of mass collaboration, but I don't personally feel that the shift is quite so fundamental as is being indicated. On the whole, it's an entertaining read, but more for the concrete examples of mass collaboration in industry rather than the central thesis of the book, which is 'Hold on to your hats!'.

Some of the examples of mass collaboration cited as fundamental paradigm shifts strike me as incremental shifts at best - chief amongst these, the example of GoldCorp who opened up their geological data to everyone and as a result netted a huge windfall of information that led to the identification of new, rich seams of gold in a mine that was about to be closed. It's interesting, yes, but I feel nothing revolutionary. The GoldCorp situation says more 'competition' than 'collaboration' to me - effectively GoldCorp ran a competition in which they said 'Find us some gold, win a prize!'. None of the mechanisms that lead to mass collaboration as a genuinely new phenomenon are present in a number of the examples given.

The book is sparesely sourced, but contains interviews (or at least, soundbites) with a number of very prominent figures in the computing industry and other areas. Some of these people are pioneers in some of the emergent ideas that, in my opinion, indicate collaboration as a paradigm shift.
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on 3 June 2008
I'm sorry to disagree with most of the other Amazon reviewers but as someone who reads a lot of business books I was deeply disappointed with this book for the following reasons. First all the author ever sees are the increasing benefits and upsides to mass collaboration online. Arguments to the contrary are swiftly dismissed and the chapter on making money from mass collaboration is more of the investment now and profits will magically follow thinking that characterised the dotcom boom. Secondly the author is obsessed with the "revolution" that mass market collaboration is apparently creating in every aspect of society. While I don't want to underplay the importance of this trend, I find the term "revolution" is too strong (like Web 2.0) and the lack of reference to the precedents of mass collaboration disappointing(e.g. earlier online communities). Finally and frustrating the book is poorly edited and structured. The font size is tiny and the obscure chapter headings seem to overlap with one another. In short it is hard getting to the point with this book. I did, however, find within it some inspiring examples of mass collaboration that I hadn't previously heard of - for example the mining company example at the beginning. But overall I would not recommend this book - for me it simply a reflection of the euphoria that gripped the internet world back in the end of 2006 with the rising popularity of Facebook et al. The world has moved on since then.
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on 2 March 2010
My expectations: a profound book with insights on how mass collaboration changes "everything". Due to the high rating, I expected it worth reading.
What I got: a shallow, extremely (!) poorly structured book which touches an important trend. Some good (and thoroughly repeated) examples, even enlightening ones, many quotes type CEO-bla-bla. But the book suffers from too many repetitions and no real punchline. A balanced, critical discussion about the importance of wikinomics is absent, the authors seem totally in love with their creation "wikinomics" and loose their critical sense.
This book could and should be condensed to 20 pages (it's over 300 pages long!) without substantial loss of content.

All this being said: If you are interested in the web, "wikinomics", open source, and related trends, you are looking in the wrong place. There must be something better, but I do not yet know one yet. In a different book, "Hackers and Painters", by Paul Graham, there are a couple of pages where the author touches these topics: much more enlightening. Graham's book is brilliant, thoroughly readable, though technical in some chapters, and provides you with INSIGHT. It's not meant to touch the same topic as "Wikinomics", but the few pages where there is overlap are so much better...
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on 11 September 2008
This book has plenty of flaws, many pointed out by other reviewers here, but it's central problem is it fails to explain how mass collaboration changes EVERYTHING. Sure it comes up with some compelling evidence that certain sorts of activity and business involving information have changed and will change more.

But when it alleges that this will extend into the physical world, of car design for instance, its examples are woefully thin. Furthermore the authors simply don't acknowledge that design is only one part of the production of cars and that other physical processes are likely to remain unchanged.

I'm sure if you are a magazine editor and your friends all work in publishing or software everything is changing, but where is the evidence that nursing, bus driving, window cleaning or garden design to pluck a few random examples ever will be revolutionised by mass collaboration?

The authors simply make an extravagant claim they cannot back up.

Furthermore as a web editor looking for practical pointers, the news that the staff at Geek Squad are encouraged to spend all day on online games simply isn't helpful to me. They live in a specialised world and nothing the authors write has convinced me that my own workplace would benefit from me and my colleagues playing online games. Again, the authors' examples don't represent EVERYTHING, they represent life in parts of California, London, Bangalore and a handful of other places.
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on 15 December 2009
This book shows how value can be created by people's unpaid cooperation on the Internet. At first, the authors explain the idea behind Wikipedia - an online encyclopedia created by a huge number of voluntary unpaid contributors. Wikipedia is amazing indeed. Me, I still can't understand how they can prevent vandals from destroying articles, but the thing obviously works and if there ever is any damage done, it somehow gets repaired quickly enough. I also tried to contribute to an article once, but it was so complicated that I gave it up for good. But apparently there are enough people who have the patience to get familiar with the technical part of the website. Anyway, Wikipedia is a crystal-clear proof that if the community is large enough, great things can achieved by using nothing but voluntary work.

The authors bring examples of the same principle working in business. Some kind of a mining company had a huge amount of raw data which might have indicated probable locations of some mineral resources. Unfortunately, they had no capacity to process so much information. Then they got the idea of publishing the raw data on the Internet and asking people all over the world to try and make sense of it. It turned out that among all the people in the world, there were enough volunteers who did the work for the company just for fun.

At first, I found the book exciting like a thriller. It gave me some very valuable information, as well as lots of interesting thoughts. Halfway through the book, however, I grew so bored that I quit reading.
There were three reasons to that.

1. Repetitions
This book makes the impression that the authors just kept writing whatever came to their minds without any concept of the book's structure, without ever re-reading what they had written, and I can't believe that anybody ever read the entire manuscript before it was printed. The new information to repetition ratio decreased steadily until I felt so annoyed reading essentially the same thing a dozenth time.

2. Empty slogans
The authors have an amazing talent on creating emotional but meaningless sequences of words like "harness the new collaboration for unparalleled success", "engage and cocreate in a dynamic fashion", "build vibrant business ecosystems", "a massive playground of information bits that are shared and remixed openly into a fluid and participatory tapestry".
In the beginning of the book, the authors managed to keep their writing more or less to the point, but the more they got carried away with their hollowphrasia, the less motivated I felt to continue reading.

3. Apologetism
My fascination with the amazing revelations found in the book soon faded as it became increasingly clear to me that the book was written for netophobes. Whatever the authors are telling about, every now and then they get interrupted by their fear that they have angered the assumedly hostile readers, so they start frantically trying to appease them: please don't get mad at us for writing about these things, it's not bad, it's not communism, it won't destroy your living, you will surely be able to benefit too, maybe you'll just need to adapt a little bit, but you'll manage, we promise.
That's ridiculous. Of course the global exchange of information will damage many business enterprises, just like the invention of television decreased the profits of radio stations, or motor cars destroyed the horse cab business. You can no longer make as much money off your software when there are enough people around willing to create open source software that does the same thing. Yes, it is most definitely an attack on your profits. But what makes you think the world owes you your profit? Why should all the progress and innovation stop just so that you wouldn't have to worry about anything? New and better business enterprises are constantly driving less competitive enterprises off the market, and that's how it's always been, and that's how it's supposed to be. The pager industry is dead because of mobile phones. Do you care?

To put things is proper perspective, you might want to read "The Work of Nations" by Robert Reich. While "Wikinomics" describes the information revolution we are currently in from the purely technological perspective, "The Work of Nations" explains the wider societal developments of the last decades that led us to this revolution. Also, Mr. Reich bluntly states some important things that the authors of "Wikipedia" are too afraid of spelling out. Mr. Tapscott and Mr. Williams are trying so hard to convince the readers that the information revolution will benefit everyone, which I think probably isn't the case. Mr Reich isn't trying to sugarcoat things just because some people wouldn't like to hear about them. And it's interesting that the predictions made in those two books differ, and I'm most curious to find out who'll prove right by the end.

P.S. I later discovered that "The Long Tail" (search "Long Tail, The") by Chris Anderson might be a much better book on essentially the same subject. I'm thinking of reading it.
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on 14 February 2011
An interesting book I'll say that, it does give you something to think about but its mainly all the stuff that Don has left out. As far as I can see there doesn't seem to be a negative thing in the book in relation to prosumers, crowd sourced development, open innovation etc. Don never touches on any of the negative issues associated with the topics he is discussing and its quite infuriating, as it lets the book down badly.

At one stage Don claims people in call centers in Asia are now on an level economic footing as the rest of first world thanks to our wired in, connected world...a bit galling to say the least.

Its a shame, if the time had been spent to actually think about what was being discussed this could have been a very interesting book which could have given insight. Instead it comes across was being written by somebody who is completely divorced from reality.

--UPDATE--
I have lowered my rating of this book as I have been scanning it for references for a dissertation and its even more annoying after carrying out balanced research, something Don should try. Its an amazingly annoying book.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 23 February 2007
Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams have written an intriguing, necessary and, in some ways, groundbreaking book, which we recommend to everyone...with some caveats. The authors examine the possibilities of mass collaboration, open-source software and evolutionary business practices. They integrate examples from the arts ("mashups"), scholarship (Wikipedia) and even heavy industry (gold mining) to argue that new forces are reshaping human societies. Some of their examples will be familiar, but others will surprise and educate you. However, the authors are so deeply part of the world they discuss that they may inflate it at times - for instance, making the actions of a few enthusiasts sound as if they already have transformed the Internet - and they sometimes fail to provide definitions or supporting data. Is the "blogosphere," for example, really making members of the younger generation into more critical thinkers? Tapscott and Williams repeatedly dismiss criticisms of their claims or positions without answering them. The result is that the book reads at times like a guidebook, at times like a manifesto and at times like a cheerleading effort for the world the authors desire. It reads, in short, like the Wikipedia they so admire: a valuable, exciting experiment that still contains a few flaws.
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on 23 February 2009
The book attempts the review the mechanics of mass-collaboration. However, the author concentrates on a small number of examples and those examples are the obvious ones where collaboration has worked (such as open source Linux and wikpedia).

The author has an underlying arguement that anything collaborative is good and will therefore work. However, there are a far greater number of collaborative projects that have never gained critical mass. The book would be vastly improved if wikinomics had at least explored that, and been less "gung ho" and more realistic in the approach taken.
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on 10 July 2009
Ok, I've put this book aside for the second time and chances are I'll never finish it. For me, it's just stating the obvious and I'm not learning anything new. Besides, I'm a bit annoyed with how the author has structured the book. i.e. not at all. At least, I cannot work out a logic. It's just one endless string of conversational drivel interrupted by a few capitalised headings. Not worth reading.
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on 14 May 2009
...which conflates several different important phenomena as if they were the same thing, makes lots of unsupported assertions, and brushes away any potential dark sides to the brave new world the authors herald.

Much of it is really about what used to be called outsourcing - remember all the hype about kairetsu and cloverleaf corporations? And yet the biggest problem for freelancers and small companies is still getting paid by their big-company customers. Small suppliers are at the mercy of these bullies, and the legal system offers little help.

The best bit of this book is on p55 (yes, it is possible to be that specific) and deals with the neglected work of Ronald Coase on the cost of internal vs external transactions. Other than that, there's hardly any economics in it, despite the name.
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