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Wiki and the Italian Lakes

Tuesday, 22nd July 2008 20:26 - by Resident IFA

lse.co.uk’s resident blogger, i.e. me, has been swanning around in Italy and Switzerland for the past week, hence the dearth of rich, thought-provoking, well-written new content! I was at Gatwick, literally moments away from going through my departure gate, when I saw a branch of WH Smith’s a few metres away. Now, I am never one to go on holiday without a good book, so I dashed in and plucked out a tome called ‘Wikinomics’. This book is all about the benefits of online mass collaboration, whether in bringing together the best minds to design and test the next wonder drug or Joe Public adding a new illicit application for the ‘closed-system’ Apple iPod. I can’t say that I am yet an expert on this as I am only 135 pages into a 300+ page book, but the concept is pretty fascinating. I wonder how far this type of interaction and joint development, innovation, and decision-making can be taken? Into governing a country perhaps? The mind boggles. Huge global firms such as Proctor & Gamble (PG) and IBM have recently embraced this way of developing their products and businesses. PG has made a commitment that, by 2010, 50% of their new ideas and developments will be sourced from outside of their walls. This make sense in that why must they rely on, say 1,000 in-house R&D employees alone, when they can also tap the knowledge of 100 times that (or more) expert R&D minds via collaborative online interaction? IBM have also committed a team (and billions of dollars) in helping to develop the operating system Linux (I am not a techie, so it is beyond me!) and properly integrating their 'people' into that online development community, working along the lines of the group norms to gain genuine acceptance and progress. I seem to remember that Wikinomics quotes £100 Million per annum as the cost of this IBM involvement, but that it leads to a £900 Million profit gain when the R&D saving of £1 Billion is taken into account. Good business sense! This is a purely financial view of it, but the development of technology in improving people’s lives is surely the best benefit. Whether it be a large pharmaceutical firm looking for a solution to a problem they have in developing a new drug treatment or Lego fanatics designing (and most importantly making available to the firm and other users) a new way of using their products, it must be a positive thing? It makes my mind wander to how this could help and enhance the experience of using, and the community within, lse.co.uk. I am not saying that we are going to introduce anything as radical as ‘Wiki’ software so our visitors can amend and improve the site anytime soon, but it certainly is food for thought. In the meantime, we will have to continue listening to you and working through the long list of improvements and upgrades that we have built in tandem with you. Until next time...

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