Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Wikinomics

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the wikirrific dept.

95

peterwayner writes "If you're jazzed by the communitarian impulses driving Wikis, idea agora, Web 2.0 and other collaborative happenings, you'll be pleased to know that the new book Wikinomics is a great gift for that boss, spouse, or friend who doesn't quite grok it yet. The only logic bomb hidden in this statement is that much of what is wonderful in this book is wonderful because it's a book printed on pulp and written by two and only two authors. That is, the book is good because it's not a wiki." Read the rest of Peter's review.

This statement isn't exactly true. The authors, Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams, have a wiki site at www.wikinomics.com devoted to the book. You can edit the wiki and have your say, but that's not what they're asking folks to buy. For the price of the book, you get a well-designed collection of thoughtful anecdotes stitched together by two talented business writers and polished by a good editor. They've made a good attempt to cover most aspects of the topic and they do an excellent job of explaining why the ideas are important for CEOs that are struggling to move their business forward. All of this is almost as portable as an iPod , dramatically less expensive and guaranteed never to need new batteries.

The tone of the book is bright and optimistic about how openness and wiki principles will help companies. We hear about how the wikipedia covered the London subway explosions, the way that Innocentive is opening up the R&D process for companies and the surprising inventiveness of Google maps users. The descriptions are thorough and well-researched, as far as they go, and when they're done going, the writers summarize them well. It's clear that the writers feel that the word "wikis" should be the new one word answer that CEOs should trot out when faced with the kind an impossible question, the kind of question that they the answered with "Internet" during the 1990s and "China" after the turn of the millenium.

The great advantages of the pulp-bound book become clear as you work your way through the text. In one section, for instance, Tapscott and Williams dismiss Jaron Lanier's worry that wikis can devolve when a smart mob develops the the same kind of "mass stupidity" that brought us Pol Pot or the Stalinist movement. "The winners will outnumber the losers", say the authors and conclude that Lanier "ran afoul". I don't really agree with the easy way that they dismissed the danger and if I had a wiki edit button in front of me, I would change the text to amplify Lanier's warnings. I've watched the mob rule delete perfectly good information from the wikipedia for no other reason than it wasn't "notable". The revision wars are legendary and any savvy wiki reader knows that skirmishes are more common than we would like. The well-meaning editors at the Wikipedia have probably destroyed more knowledge in the name of notability than the book burners of history. At least it's still there in the article history. But since Tapscott and Williams wrote a book that doesn't come with a wiki edit button, the text is better off because I didn't glue in my own divergent rant.

The optimism of the book is contagious and it would be a shame for it to be limited by a neutral point of view. Wikis organize casual information like how to install software, and this is the kind of job that is very important to business. Wikis may just be the wrong tool for, say, capturing political truthiness, but the book gives several good examples of how they energize corporations by making it easier for divisions, groups, and project teams to cooperate without going through traditional channels. If a business wants to formalize its collective intelligence, a wiki offers an ideal amount of flexibility.

If the book needs any editing, it would be to add more skepticism. At the beginning, they hint that they will address the kind of concerns that led Bill Gates to wonder about how society will pay for innovation if there's no profit incentive, but analyzing the limitations of the wikiworld isn't really their goal. There's little discussion of endeavors that have largely failed like Wikinews. That experiment with collaborative reporting had two articles on the day I wrote this and one article on the day before. (December 19 and 20th).

I've begun to feel lately that there is a real danger that free information will drive out paid information in much the same way that economists note that cheap money drives out the dear.

It's probably too early for us to have a firm grasp on the downsides to the wiki world and so it might be unfair to expect the book to be much of a buzz kill. One of the biggest logical problems I've found with the wikipedia is the inconsistent way that the movement treats traditional scholarship. On one hand, we're supposed to revel in the way that the wikipedia is often better than traditional mechanisms, but on the other hand the wikipedia gives more weight to outside sources. On the day I wrote this, the guide counseled, "Avoid weasel words such as, `Some people say ...' Instead, make your writing verifiable: find a specific person or group who holds that opinion and give a citation to a reputable publication in which they express that opinion." If the wikis become good enough to rival if not replace original sources, where will the wikis find the outside beacons of authority? Any strict logician will realize that there's a danger of proving 1=0 with this system, although I realize that all grown ups know that life is filled with logical inconsistencies like that.

The book, for instance, doesn't really question why the Wikipedia worked but the Wikinews didn't, something that no one may really know. The tone is closer to Ray Kinsella than Crash Davis. It celebrates Cory Doctorow, the famous editor of BoingBoing.net, a wonderful blog that I read daily. The authors explain how Doctorow gives away digital copies of his books because "his problem isn't piracy, it's obscurity."

Perhaps that's true, but a deeper question is how the wikis, mashups, and mixes will find their benchmarks of authority, their geodetic markers in memespace, their means of support. To test this danger, I wrote this greasemonkey script to count the words in a webpage between certain tags. On the day I wrote this, the admittedly imprecise script found 11788 words on the front page of Boing Boing, of which 6472 were between <blockquote> tags. That's about 50% borrowed text.

So far, this non-stop homage, this pantheon of fair use sells ads and seems to do quite well — Wikinomics suggests that BoingBoing's "readership now eclipses most mainstream media outlets." So why bother playing by the old school rules when you can just let others do the work while you push the boundaries of fair use and make money? There is a real danger that the original sources will find themselves starved for air as the Wikipedia and others fair use devotees suck up the top search rankings.

This may be why I think the book was right to bring these wiki worlds to the business community. At first I thought it was rather cynical to package up the wiki ideals into a neat bundle for the business leaders, but now I think that businesses are the ones who can really use and support the ideals. We now know that wikis can't be trusted for important, contentious areas of truthiness like politics, news, history, or any place where there's a difference of opinion about the facts, but it can still be ideal for semi-closed environments with outside means of support. I can imagine that wikis would be great for a corporation that needed to manage communication between the two divisions in different states. Openness gets rid of the natural inertia of bureaucracies. And it's clear that every company should have a wiki devoted to the user's guide so the customers can add what the manual writers never anticipated. Wikis allows one group to move ahead without asking another "mother may I". The umbrella business can pay the bills for keeping the lights on.

My guess is the folks in business who need to get things done may be the only ones who support the wikiconomy in the long term after the average joe gets a bit bored and tosses the wikis onto the pile of amusing distractions with the CB radios. The businesses are the ones with the real incentives to embrace the values of wikiness. And if you've spent a few years in the cubicle trenches, you know that words like "truthiness" have a certain ring to them.

Peter Wayner is the author of Translucent Databases and 12 other books.


You can purchase Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Update on the link (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17449608)

The review links to B & N, but it looks like Amazon has it cheaper [amazon.com] if you look at the "Used and new..." listings.

Re:Update on the link (0, Flamebait)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 7 years ago | (#17449838)

Nobody wants to buy from those fascist assholes.

They sold their last book to anyone with any sense as soon as they decided to enforce a frivilous software patent.

Re:Update on the link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17457508)

The FSF called off their boycott of Amazon four years ago now. Most people with sense have long since been convinced that Amazon was patenting for protection against lawsuits, just like friends of OSS like IBM and Sun do. Get with the times.

Joe McCarthy would be proud (2, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#17449626)

If you're jazzed by the communitarian impulses driving Wikis, idea agora, Web 2.0 and other collaborative happenings

You know, in the 60s, they would have called it something different.

Re:Joe McCarthy would be proud (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 7 years ago | (#17449794)

There's a vast difference between people voluntarily working together for a common cause, and wielding the violent force of government taxation and regulation to accomplish some social end.

Re:Joe McCarthy would be proud (2, Interesting)

JebusIsLord (566856) | more than 7 years ago | (#17449918)

What is government though (in essence) if not people collaborating and sharing? That the people organizing this sharing organization often get corrupted by power is beside the point - the essence of communistm isn't "violent taxation", its sharing.

Re:Joe McCarthy would be proud (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 7 years ago | (#17450054)

It's not collaboration and sharing if you can't "opt-out".

Re:Joe McCarthy would be proud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17452642)

Not like anyone can opt-out of Capitalism either. At least provide a coherent anti-communist remark if you are going to try. Sheesh.

Re:Joe McCarthy would be proud (1)

knewter (62953) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453214)

The essence of communism as a political movement has to be violent taxation. If it were sharing, you wouldn't need to enforce it at the government level. You could just share stuff, and let the capitalist pigs do their thing too.

We call that Open Source these days.

Re:Joe McCarthy would be proud (1)

JebusIsLord (566856) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467140)

so legislated = violent? As in the law against murder could be described as a "violent law against violence"?

I'm picking at the choice of an unfairly loaded term here, because it skews the argument.

Re:Joe McCarthy would be proud (2, Insightful)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 7 years ago | (#17450438)

The best part about government is that if you don't quite want to share as much as they want you to share, or if they plain don't like the expression on your face, you get the buttstock of a rifle planted between your eyes.

Good ol collaborative sharing.

Re:Joe McCarthy would be proud (1)

Sinbios (852437) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453272)

That's because the governments you are thinking of are authoritarian, not because they are communist.

Re:Joe McCarthy would be proud (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 7 years ago | (#17455728)

"the essence of communistm isn't "violent taxation", its sharing."

Exactly, and its a shame that idealogues never realize, that it's not the systems themselves that are the problems, but the actors and their capabilities, you can have a communist society, a capitalist society, a socialist society, or what have you, as long as you have people that 1) Are capable of maintaining that society 2) The principles by which the society operates are congruent with or incentivize action to maintain society and progress it forward. and 3) Are principled and caring people that have decent ethical principles (but not inflexible).

James madison said it best:

"If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions."

The same could be said of any economic system and idealogy, because Might is the parent of economic power, and economic power is the parent of political power. And ALL economic transactions are political transactions... hence the phrase "vote with your wallet".

Blurb Translation: (4, Funny)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 7 years ago | (#17449700)

"If you're SLANG by the BUZZWORD BUZZWORD FAD, FAD, BUZZWORD and other BUZZWORD SLANG, you'll be pleased to know that the new book FADBUZZWORD is a great gift for that TOOL, DUPE, or IGNORAUMUS who doesn't quite TIRED CLICHE it yet. The only SLANG hidden in this statement is that much of what is wonderful in this book is wonderful because it's a book printed on pulp and written by two and only two authors. That is, the book is good because it's not a FAD."

Re:Blurb Translation: (0, Offtopic)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#17449824)

Heh, yet again "susano otter" and I post similar sentiments almost simultaneously. I think we were somehow separated at birth.

Re:Blurb Translation: (2, Funny)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 7 years ago | (#17450240)

Given your low user number, I'd suspect I'm simply a dim echo of your greatness. I shall now go and grok the fullness of your like-minded sentiments.

Oblig. Dilbert (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#17450414)

Wally: Bingo, sir.

Re:Blurb Translation: (2, Interesting)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#17451728)

As annoying as that summary was, I am somewhat interested in this book. I am attempted to motivate my management to look into some collaborative systems for documentation, and some mashup ideas I have for system integration. If this book provides anecdotal stories with factual backing (ie: costs, pros, cons, maintenance, motivation, etc...) then there may be something to it. Despite the summary's abusive use of buzzwords and slang.

-Rick

Re:Blurb Translation: (1)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 7 years ago | (#17451982)

I surely hope that this review will help you figure out whether or not this book suits your purposes.

You'd probably be better off asking your management team to look into what the Wikipedia people have to say about their project directly. Cut out the middleman, so to speak, and get the actual experiences and lessons learned straight from the principals.

Judith Regan Literary Corrolary to Gresham's Law (2, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 7 years ago | (#17452488)

In which we learn that bad books drive out the good.

Wrong comparison - money and information (3, Interesting)

homer_s (799572) | more than 7 years ago | (#17449710)

I've begun to feel lately that there is a real danger that free information will drive out paid information in much the same way that economists note that cheap money drives out the dear.

Not the same thing.

"cheap money drives out the dear" means that when you have counterfiet (or bebased/ inflated) coins/money in the market, people will hoard the genuine coins (thereby driving it out of the market). This is what happened to US silver coins and what is currently happening to nickels and dimes. [slashdot.org] In this case, the good money is driven out of the market because it is more precious and people prefer the good money to the bad.

In the case of information, if free information 'drives out' paid information from the market, it will be because the people reject the paid information and prefer the 'free information'.

So, good money and paid information are driven out of the market, they happen for different (and opposite) reasons.

Re:Wrong comparison - money and information (2, Informative)

peterwayner (266189) | more than 7 years ago | (#17449842)

You're right that the comparison is not exact-- that's why I said "in much the same way."

In the free economy, time is the limiting factor. In an information economy, information is an asset. And so expensive information is information that takes a long time to create. Cheap information takes little. People share the cheap stuff and hoard the expensive stuff, if they have any expensive stuff at all. This is why most blogs concentrate on reacting to articles by the mainstream media. Original research is very expensive and most newspapers don't even have the time to pay much of an investigative staff any longer.

Re:Wrong comparison - money and information (1)

homer_s (799572) | more than 7 years ago | (#17450268)

People share the cheap stuff and hoard the expensive stuff, if they have any expensive stuff at all.

But why would it be because of free information? Wouldn't people hoard the expensive stuff anyway? You could argue that "because of the free information, some people cannot charge much for paid research (many websites which were subscription based in 2000 are now free) and have to lower their prices and hence, quality."

But this is what happens in every other industry. Companies have to lower prices (or increase quality) to compete and in the end, the consumer benefits. The fact that here it is 'free' vs 'cheaper' in other industries does not change anything (would it make a difference if information cost $0.0001 instead of free?).

So, just like in any other industry, free (or cheaper) goods tend to benefit the consumer. The basic laws of economics do not change suddenly in an 'information economy' - there is and has always been only one economy; the one where people create wealth by serving the needs of other people.

Re:Wrong comparison - money and information (1)

peterwayner (266189) | more than 7 years ago | (#17450408)

I think I mean that hoarde=not produce. Or if they produce it, they don't bother to go through the trouble of marking it up in HTML and posting it on a website. For instance, I could have just watched TV instead of subjecting myself to the slings and arrows of Slashdot complaints about people who don't like the phrasing of some sentence. Luckily I've got a thick skin and while I do care about whether people like words like "memespace", I have no problem taking a word out for a spin. It's more fun to me than sitting and watching TV.

Re:Wrong comparison - money and information (1)

homer_s (799572) | more than 7 years ago | (#17450770)

I think I mean that hoarde=not produce.

If companies/people stopped producing because of cheaper competition, you would not see any products on the market.
Ferrari does not stop producing cars because of Toyota. Adobe does not stop producing because of GIMP. The only people who will stop producing are the ones whose products/information cannot compete with others and who cannot adjust quick enough.

More / cheap (and free is just really cheap) competition is good for consumers in any industry.

Re:Wrong comparison - money and information (1)

peterwayner (266189) | more than 7 years ago | (#17450920)

Wait, you can't have it both ways. What if I like the products from the inefficient producers? What if there's some civic good in having a newspaper send an independent reporter to the city council meeting? If that reporter can't compete for ad dollars with, say, gossip about Britney or Tara, then who knows what could go on at that meeting.

Consider this from another perspective. What if I said "government subsidized producers" instead of "free information producers"? Does this change the equation? Can you see how a subsidy can distort the marketplace and provide unfair competition?

Re:Wrong comparison - money and information (1)

homer_s (799572) | more than 7 years ago | (#17451452)

Wait, you can't have it both ways.

I don't see where I wanted something both ways. Can you pls explain?

What if I like the products from the inefficient producers?

You buy that. You buy what you want - if it comes back to bite you, you learn and the next time buy the quality one. And you tell your friends about it.

What if there's some civic good in having a newspaper send an independent reporter to the city council meeting? If that reporter can't compete for ad dollars with, say, gossip about Britney or Tara, then who knows what could go on at that meeting.

Now, *you* cannot have it both ways - if the public like gossip about Britney, then that is the public good. If sending an investigative reporter to a meeting is a public good, then how come the public doesn't want to pay for it? This only works if you assume that you know better than the public what is good for them. If that meeting goes unreported and hurts the people, they'll value that information the next time and be willing to pay.
A good's value is not intrinsic - it is depending on the consumer's need.

What if I said "government subsidized producers" instead of "free information producers"?Can you see how a subsidy can distort the marketplace and provide unfair competition?

The difference here is that govt. has to forcefully take money from someone and give it to someone else - the use of force to appropriate money is the unfair part.
In the case of 'free information producers', they want to give me something for nothing. This would be "unfair" to the commercial producers only if somehow the public owed them a business. Nobody owes anybody anything - you make money if you produce something that your fellow man wants to buy; if he does not, find something else to do.

BTW, you have not addressed my question - would it be any different if the people who produce free info charged $10? How about $1? how about $0.0000001? Where do you draw the line?

Re:Wrong comparison - money and information (1)

peterwayner (266189) | more than 7 years ago | (#17452008)

Here's another way of looking at it. Certainly zero is just an epsilon away from .0001 cents and a bit more away from $10. But the world is often discontinuous. One of the bigger hurdles to micropayments on the Internet is the cost of a transaction.So this has stopped many experiments dead in their tracks. So free has a big advantage over 1 penny, one dime or even one quarter. It's fair to say that it's cheaper to give something away over the internet than to charge 10 to 25 cents. (Google Checkout's effect on this will be interesting because it has a pretty low threshold.)

Think about running a store in NYC. If the cheapest storefront costs $n/month, then you can't run a store in NYC unless you make $n or get $n from your parents.

You're quite right that the news about Britney and Tara is theoretically just as valid as any other. My larger point is that the cheap information drives out the dear. There are hidden subsidies and they're not just from the government. Free information is often dominated by spam and PR astroturfing. Google, for instance, won't index sites behind registration walls and that's a disincentive. You might argue that they're subsidizing the free information with this decision. While Google is not technically part of the government, they have a great deal of power that approaches that of a government. One of the biggest problems with the libertarian embrace of the marketplace is that quasi-govenrments can evolve when marketplaces evolve in the wrong way.

Now on to explaining what I mean by both ways:

Way 1: Markets serve consumers and provide choices because Ferrari hasn't been destroyed by cheap competitors.

Way 2: Markets serve consumers by destroying the choices that weren't produced efficiently.

We're arguing for different things. If you want a world where everything is produced efficiently at the lowest possible price, than there's nothing wrong with this view. But if you want to maximize choice, then Way 2 is a problem. And my point is only that the explosion of cheap goods is destroying some choices. That's good if you want efficiency, but bad if you want something else.

Re:Wrong comparison - money and information (1)

homer_s (799572) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454748)

Here's another way of looking at it. Certainly zero is just an epsilon away from .0001 cents and a bit more away from $10. But the world is often discontinuous. One of the bigger hurdles to micropayments on the Internet is the cost of a transaction

We are talking about principles here - not practicalities. Your principle is that 'free information has a 'dumping' effect and that is unfair'. My point was that free and cheap are the same - your principle becomes 'cheaper information has a dumping effect and that is unfair'. Which I believe to be false.

You're quite right that the news about Britney and Tara is theoretically just as valid as any other. My larger point is that the cheap information drives out the dear.

My larger point was, who decides what is cheap information and what is dear information? You? How do you know what is more dear to me? The free market lets me choose what the right information for me is. If I make a mistake, too bad - I pay for it. But if you make the decision that Britney is not important and the other stuff is important and make everyone pay for the other information - who pays if you were wrong? What if in some bizarre world my life depended on Britney gossip?

One of the biggest problems with the libertarian embrace of the marketplace is that quasi-govenrments can evolve when marketplaces evolve in the wrong way.

Again, wrong according to whom? Do you see a pattern here? You are deciding what is 'good' and what is 'bad'. And guess what? These 'quasi-governments' exist at the mercy of the market - the real governments do not. Everyone here in Chicago thought Sears was king and no one could beat them - Walmart and Kmart gave ppl what they wanted and Sears is (almost) history. And if enough people feel that Walmart is evil and stop shopping there, they are gone. Would that happen with govt?

Now on to explaining what I mean by both ways:

Way 1: Markets serve consumers and provide choices because Ferrari hasn't been destroyed by cheap competitors.

Way 2: Markets serve consumers by destroying the choices that weren't produced efficiently.


I don't see the dichotomy here - (1) says that what people want will always exist in the market and (2) says that products people do not want disappear from the market. The end result is that people get what they want. It is a dichotomy only if you want choice for its own sake not as a means to supply people what they want.

But if you want to maximize choice, then Way 2 is a problem. And my point is only that the explosion of cheap goods is destroying some choices. That's good if you want efficiency, but bad if you want something else.

Let us look at what is wrong with 2 - "product that nobody wants goes out of the market". How is this reducing choice?

You seem to think that things have an intrinsic value - Product A is 'good', it should not be driven away by commercial interests. My point is that a value is subjective. A thing's value is what people assign to it.

The whole problem starts with people believing that they know what is 'good' and what is 'bad' for others, not realizing that they are asking for a free lunch (have other people pay for things that they think are good/necessary/important).

Re:Wrong comparison - money and information (1)

peterwayner (266189) | more than 7 years ago | (#17456714)

Again, wrong according to whom? Do you see a pattern here? You are deciding what is 'good' and what is 'bad'. And guess what? These 'quasi-governments' exist at the mercy of the market - the real governments do not. Everyone here in Chicago thought Sears was king and no one could beat them - Walmart and Kmart gave ppl what they wanted and Sears is (almost) history. And if enough people feel that Walmart is evil and stop shopping there, they are gone. Would that happen with govt?

I never said that. I just said that the internet's bias toward free information makes it difficult for people to producers to collect from consumers. I never said anything about some central force controlling anything. It's alll about whether the mass collection of producers can connect and collection from consumers.

Re:Wrong comparison - money and information (1)

homer_s (799572) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460182)

I never said that.

Here is what you said:

One of the biggest problems with the libertarian embrace of the marketplace is that quasi-govenrments can evolve when marketplaces evolve in the wrong way.

My question was "wrong according to who?". I don't know what your answer means in this context.

I just said that the internet's bias toward free information makes it difficult for people to producers to collect from consumers. I never said anything about some central force controlling anything. It's alll about whether the mass collection of producers can connect and collection from consumers.

And your implication was that, as a result of this, 'good' information is driven out. Which leads back to my question - 'good according to who'? If that information is 'good' as you say, people will pay for it (just like ppl pay for Ferrari while they could buy a Pinto). OTOH, if that information is useless to people, it goes out of the marketplace (just like car-phones).
So either way, the information that stays in the market is the information that ppl want. The information that is 'driven away' from the market is the information that ppl have clearly said they do not want.

And my orig point was this was unlike the scenario with money - the 'good' money (again, according to someone's opinion) goes out of the market for the exact opposite reason - because people *like* it and want to keep it for themselves. And the driving force behind this is the govt edict that assigns the same value for both 'good' and 'bad' money ignoring that people assign different values to the 'good' and 'bad' money. This is what drives good money out.

Left to itself, the market provides the products people want and destroys what people do not want. Any interference in this process causes artificial scarcity, artificial monopoly, choices reduced and bad products forced down people's throats.

Re:Wrong comparison - money and information (1)

peterwayner (266189) | more than 7 years ago | (#17460926)

My question was "wrong according to who?". I don't know what your answer means in this context.

I'm using the same weighted average of society to measure good as you are. I'm not assuming that there's some central force. That's just your assumption because I'm complaining about market failure.

Here's another way of articulating how the free economy is different from the micropayment. In other words, this is how a price of zero is different from epsilon pennies.

When an information producer creates and sells something for n cents, then every consumer sends a message back to the producer when they pay n cents. That is how the consumers communicate with the producers. This is how the market helps producers discover what the world as a whole wants.

When you have free information, that feedback loop is broken. The consumers don't send a message back to the producer when they consume it. Oh, maybe the producer can gain some information from log files, but that doesn't happen in a P2P world. The consumer stops driving the production of knowledge. The consumer's definition of "good" becomes less influential. The game changes.

I think I did a better job of explaining this in my talk [wayner.org] .

Re:Wrong comparison - money and information (1)

homer_s (799572) | more than 7 years ago | (#17463226)

I'm using the same weighted average of society to measure good as you are. I'm not assuming that there's some central force. That's just your assumption because I'm complaining about market failure.

The market *is* the avg weighted opinion of society.You will not have a situation where a product that is good (according to the avg opinion in the society) fails. Can you give me an example of a situation where a product was well liked by the public but was taken away from the market (aka "market failure")?

The weighted average opinion of society regarding a product is reflected in the product's price and performance. Eg.,:

1. Toyota Camry - the avg opinion of society is that it is good. Hence #1 selling car.

2. Yugo - the avg opinion of society is that it is bad - car is out of the market.

When an information producer creates and sells something for n cents, then every consumer sends a message back to the producer when they pay n cents. That is how the consumers communicate with the producers. This is how the market helps producers discover what the world as a whole wants.

Yes, that is absolutely correct.

When you have free information, that feedback loop is broken. The consumers don't send a message back to the producer when they consume it. Oh, maybe the producer can gain some information from log files, but that doesn't happen in a P2P world. The consumer stops driving the production of knowledge. The consumer's definition of "good" becomes less influential. The game changes.

Let us ignore log files and assume that there is no way to monitor P2P networks or the popularity of a blog. Let us also assume that feedback and comments do not exist and that the content producer is in a complete vacuum.

If the consumers do not want that free information, what is it doing in P2P networks? Who downloads it and shares it in the P2P networks?

You do raise a valid point about the feedback role that prices play and that that is a differentiator between free and paid. But that is insignificant to your main concern which was (I think), "free information driving out paid information".

Say I'm a stupid free information producer - nobody reads my stuff but I'm under the impression that a lot of people read it. So what is the problem here again? I keep on producing content that nobody reads. I don't lose anything because I never intended to make any money out of this anyway. The ppl don't lose anything because they've moved on to other (free/paid) information providers*. I'm getting what I want, the ppl are getting what they choose.

*If you are a paid information producer whom I put out of business, you have to do the research and see that ppl are not getting the info they want from me and tell them "here, pay me $x and you can have this info that you are not getting from Raja". Any producer has to do the research to find out what his consumers want and what they are not getting from the market.

There is no basis to claim that a free/cheaper/slightly cheaper/expensive/most expensive product will drive out another product.

Re:Wrong comparison - money and information (1)

peterwayner (266189) | more than 7 years ago | (#17463710)

Can you give me an example of a situation where a product was well liked by the public but was taken away from the market (aka "market failure")?

There are many cases, but they're not the cases you want to hear about. Companies go out of business all of the time. They end product lines. In most of these cases, the companies have some customers, but usually they don't have enough customers to make it worth their while to continue or sell/give the business to someone else.

You're going to say something like, "Oh but the consumers were able to make do with something else that was produced by another company more efficiently." And so the market succeeded. I'm going to say, "But maybe it wasn't the same thing. And maybe making do wasn't good enough. Maybe they were still sad."

We're really arguing from different points of view and so there will never be any convergence. You'll look at the local stores driven out of business by the big box stores and say, "Wow. Everything is so much more efficient now." I'll say, "But look at the reduction of choice from a merchant that knows little about local differences."

And so I think we've reached an impasse. I'm going to have to sign off now because of a pressing deadline.

Re:Wrong comparison - money and information (1)

homer_s (799572) | more than 7 years ago | (#17465682)

You're going to say something like, "Oh but the consumers were able to make do with something else that was produced by another company more efficiently."

No, I won't say that. I can give you a personal example. I cannot get a decent LISP compiler/IDE anymore. It has gone out of the market. There are a few, but they are expensive, no libraries, etc. I hate Java and others. So, the free market has failed me. A good product has been driven out by inferior products and there is less choice for me.

Failure of the free market, right? Wrong. The point is, if I want something I have to be willing to :

a) build it myself; or

b) pay/convince someone else who has the expertise and motivation to build it for me.

I cannot use LISP anymore because I am not willing to do either (a) or (b). To phrase it differently, it is cheaper and easier for me to use Java than do (a) or (b) above.

So even though I keep bitching about LISP disappearing, I am the one making the choice not to use it because it is easier to obtain JAVA than LISP.

The free market is one where anything you want is available... at a price. No free lunches.

"But look at the reduction of choice from a merchant that knows little about local differences."

This is laughable.

If local differences are so important, why did the local store go out of business? Wouldn't customers say, "I'm not going to BIG BOX INC because they don't have what I need" ? Maybe the customers care more about prices that choices. Or maybe it is the big box that is providing the choice due to their economies of scale. In any case, the big box succeeds and the small store fails because of one and one reason only - the big box gives customers what they want - price or choice or ease...

re really arguing from different points of view and so there will never be any convergence

I mentioned it before - you want choice for the sake of choice. You assign some inherent value to things and mourn when that thing dissappears.

I am saying that having choice for its own sake is stupid and things do not have inherent value - a product's value is what people think its value is. And I have given many examples to back up my arguments.

It was nice chatting with you.

Re:Wrong comparison - money and information (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17450590)

information is an asset

No. You have gone far afield of the Slashdot opinion on information and I caution you to get back on the path or expect your next self-Slashvertisement to be rejected regardless of our need for Slashvertisement revenue.

Information is not an asset because in order for an asset to be an asset it must be owned. Information cannot be owned and it is against the interests of society for it to be. All information, be it news or poetry or prose or music or video, all of it should be free for all to consume until their desire for information, content being a better descriptor, is satiated.

I would of course expect that someone as fond of an antiquated information distribution method as you, praising a book printed on paper, would see information as an asset. How about I go check out a copy of this book from the library, scan it, and make it available on BitTorrent, free for all? How would you like that? I doubt you'd like it very much but you should because that is what should be done with it and while I won't be doing it myself, in the grand tradition of Free Software, I fully expect someone else to do it. And I'll be right there fighting on the side of righteousness by downloading my Free copy over my university's bandwidth that my parents pay for.

So say goodbye to your information-as-an-asset lifestyle. In the new economy there won't be any such thing.

Re:Wrong comparison - money and information (1)

peterwayner (266189) | more than 7 years ago | (#17450650)

downloading my Free copy over my university's bandwidth that my parents pay for.

Ah yes. DRM, but DRM by the bursar's office.

Re:Wrong comparison - money and information (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453564)

People share the cheap stuff and hoard the expensive stuff, if they have any expensive stuff at all.

Yep; this is the natural behavior of most humans. That's why it took us so long to drag ourselves out of the stone age. And the reason that science and mathematics have had such a spectacular success over the past couple centuries at improving the human condition is that they developed an ethic of sharing information. If you're a scientist or mathematician, you only get "paid" (i.e., honor and credit) for what you share with the community; you don't profit from information that you hide. The effect of this is that people can build on each others' discoveries, and what you know isn't lost when you die, as happened repeatedly in previous centuries.

We're seeing strong pressure in the computer industry to abandon our sci/math roots and go with privatization of information, in the form of "intellectual property". Wikipedia has turned into a major force against this, but it's really just finding a new way to continue the centuries-old scientific method of sharing what you know with anyone who's interested and building on others' knowledge.

It's interesting to see people reacting to wikipedia as if it's something new. On the scale of the entire history of the human species, it is new, but it's just a computerized version of what made science and mathematics so successful. It's interesting that nobody in the computer biz seems to understand this. It'll also be interesting to see whether we decide to go with shared or privatized information.

For our own good, and the good of our grandchildren, we can hope that the privatizers lose this one.

Re:Wrong comparison - money and information (1)

*BBC*PipTigger (160189) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454710)

I think the comparison is wrong for a slightly different reason.

Money is necessarily scarce. Information is not.

It's not just that people will "reject" paid information (content, etc.) when free is available but that there is a growing recognition that information scarcity is artificial and increasingly antiquated.

Yes, the purchase of shoe leather will have to come from different sources to fund expensive journalism in the future... just like the funding of production for software, music, movies, games, etc. are all evolving now too. I don't know quite what steps will gain simultaneous popularity and viability... or if some relatively stable end-goal equilibrium will be reached someday... but I estimate that clamoring for the injection of paid sites into Google search results is attempting to move backwards. Don't expect eternal payment for data already created (which is inherently freely copyable). Work towards methods of being paid for the creation of new valuable data. That seems to be more in the right direction for the future.

-Pip

I prefer... (1)

chrismcdirty (677039) | more than 7 years ago | (#17449740)

Reaganomics

Oh spare me (3, Funny)

realmolo (574068) | more than 7 years ago | (#17449756)

"Communitarian"? "Idea agora"? "Collaborative happenings"?

You need to cancel your subscription to "Wired" magazine, my friend. And then kill yourself.

Re:Oh spare me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17451396)

You need to cancel your subscription to "Wired" magazine, my friend. And then kill yourself.

Holy crap, that's the funniest fuckin' thing I've read here in YEARS. You, kind sir, owe me a good Thinkpad cleaning....and a Sprite.

THANK YOU!

Oh, boy... (3, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#17449768)

If you're jazzed...doesn't quite grok it yet. The only logic bomb...

If you're rolling your eyes already, wait til you get to "geodetic markers in memespace"...

Tapscott and Williams dismiss Jaron Lanier's worry that wikis can devolve when a smart mob develops the the same kind of "mass stupidity" that brought us Pol Pot or the Stalinist movement.

The funny thing (besides the usual question of whether Jaron Lanier has ever actually done anything) is that there's actually a failure of imagination here, as online collaboration brings us entirely new forms of stupidity! For example, as giggling Colbert fans vandalize Wikipedia under the delusion that anything is somehow clever-funny when said with raised eyebrows.

Re:Oh, boy... (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#17450018)

If you're rolling your eyes already, wait til you get to "geodetic markers in memespace"...

AAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIIGGGGGGGGHHHH!!!!! It burns! It burns!!

Honestly, I pride myself on having a pretty voluminous vocabulary, but when I see stuff like that, I want to beat the author with a dictionary, preferably one covered in jagged spikes. It's bad enough the Internet is becoming polluted with mindless catchphrases, which the unenlightened throw around like candy at Halloween, but when tripe like that phrase starts being assembled, I'm thinking the invention of spoken language is going to turn out to be an evolutionary dead end.

Re:Oh, boy... (1)

Lord of Hyphens (975895) | more than 7 years ago | (#17451086)

Honestly, I pride myself on having a pretty voluminous vocabulary

I prefer my vocabularies to be voluptuous.

Now kneel before my dazzling cascade of delectable prose! KNEEL!

Re:Oh, boy... (1)

SetupWeasel (54062) | more than 7 years ago | (#17450428)

If you're rolling your eyes already, wait til you get to "geodetic markers in memespace".

You are far braver than I. "Grok" was enough warning for me to turn away.

Re:Oh, boy... (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 7 years ago | (#17452800)

I found it funny that "logic bomb" is just a fancy word for unauthorized computer code triggered by a special system state.

So it has nothing to do with his usage, and he's either just mocking with buzz words or more or less lost connection with reality. ;)

marked as Lame (0, Offtopic)

TheDoctorWho (858166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17449776)

paper books about e-books about paper books, gawd, will you nerds just stfu

Was it just me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17449814)

That was some serious word salad article.

i feel dirty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17449880)

after reading that power-prep fluff i feel like i've been violated. this review was crap.

i dont give a damn if you like wiki or not, just end the fanboi lip service.

slashdot become marketing troll (5, Insightful)

Web-o-matic (246295) | more than 7 years ago | (#17450020)

It seems the quality of slashdot's editorial / review policy has declined over the years -- I remember, not that far back, when such blatant marketing-speak 'reviews' would've never made it.

Data: the book's release date (to bookstores) was Jan 2. And now, on Jan 3, we have this blatant marketing-posing-as-review. That's pretty depressing - for slashdot.

I used to trust this site for interestingly filtered material - somewhat eclectic, often varied, but typically filtered with intelligence and flair.

I guess the good old days are over.

And, moreover, the book just isn't that good -- or at least it isn't if the content of the book is anything like the series of pedestrian articles the authors have published in the Globe and Mail over the past few days. Most of this stuff will be old hat to any Slashdot reader. But more importantly, there is nothing in their analysis that goes anything beyond what you can read in existing published reports, blog sites, or research reports. It's just a compilation of other peoples' work - pulled into a neat package but lacking any insight or deep thinking you'd expect from an organization called "New Paradigm".

So basically the same old paradigm -- repackage others ideas and resell.

Re:slashdot become marketing troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17450322)

this is because slashdot is on a serious decline. just look around and the crap that gets modded up for having no substance. i posted a question once (i wanted an answer, it wasn't one of those flippant comments) and it got modded insightful... for asking a fucking question! insightful? what's going on around here?

the politics section marked the beginning of the end for this joint.

Re:slashdot become marketing troll (2, Interesting)

peterwayner (266189) | more than 7 years ago | (#17450476)

I think this comment is a perfect example of my point. I didn't get paid anything for this review, except perhaps for a quick link to one of my books at the bottom. Clearly the kind of writers that you like have found other things to do with their time than writing the kind of review that you want to read.
If, as one commenter suggests, that Slashdot is in decline, then I think it's just a canary-in-the-coal-mine for the entire wiki world.

The book was quite nice and there is nothing wrong with producing a clearly written, well-constructed exploration of thoughts that others have had. It takes plenty of work to do. Believe me. Plus, the fact that I suggested it as a gift for others should be a big fat clue that it's not for cutting edge folks.

Re:slashdot become marketing troll (3, Insightful)

Oriumpor (446718) | more than 7 years ago | (#17451000)

Don't sugar coat it, don't hide behind semantics, don't use the clever writer's alegory... You wrote this as an attempt to drive business to your product. It's quite simple economics. Now then, if you happen to help a fellow writer, who you may (or may not) have a social relationship with hey all the better.

Re:slashdot become marketing troll (1, Interesting)

peterwayner (266189) | more than 7 years ago | (#17451398)

First, I've never spoken to the two authors.

Second, I know how much traffic the buried link will drive to my site. It's minimal.

I wrote the review to, as the open source world says, "scratch an itch." It's clear that the wonderful, eclectic folks who used to write reviews around here aren't feeling as itchy these days.

Re:slashdot become marketing troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17451310)

whatever you say fagboi^H^H^H^H^H^H fanboi.

Re:slashdot become marketing troll (1)

Oriumpor (446718) | more than 7 years ago | (#17450486)

Nah, the change isn't in the utter shite that's posted, as that's been the same crap different day as long as I've been reading /. It's the response and the metamoderation that goes on that's changed. There's bound to be a half dozen carpet-bagging grass roots shills posting any moment and a few dozen more metamods that disagree with your overly pessimistic "technical" evaluation of the obviously editorial article modding you "Over-rated."

Businesses have embraced Forums, wikis and the rest that makes "web2.0" and have flooded it with marketing hype crap. Wikipedia has it's own problems with public relations firm shills, and I'm betting there's little or no depth on this "shifting" paradigm in the afformentioned slashvertisment.

Re:slashdot become marketing troll (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17451202)

The lack of attention to the moderation system is the surest sign that the people running slashdot give not one fuck about it any more as they are too busy lying back on sacks of money and counting the parts they're not laying on. Either that or they just got robbed and they spend the says debating whether to lift the gun to their temple or not, but I'm betting on the former. Slashdot has been broken by design longer than I've been here, but most of the problems didn't really rear their head until everyone and their village idiot started visiting on a daily basis, and apparently, getting mod points. Also a lot of very rational people have apparently had their ability to moderate permanently suspended (as in, haven't had mod points in years) since crossing some petulant baby of an "editor".

Re:slashdot become marketing troll (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17450984)

> It seems the quality of slashdot's editorial / review policy has declined over the years

You're new here, aren't you?

Re:slashdot become marketing troll (1)

Web-o-matic (246295) | more than 7 years ago | (#17451124)

Actually kinda old (since the very first months of slashdot). But I know what you mean by you comment ;-)

Re:slashdot become marketing troll (1)

Tim Browse (9263) | more than 7 years ago | (#17451230)

It seems the quality of slashdot's editorial / review policy has declined over the years -- I remember, not that far back, when such blatant marketing-speak 'reviews' would've never made it.

The review scores have stayed the same, though - 8. Virtually every book review on slashdot I ever bother to read (or, increasingly, look at the score to bolster my pet theory) gets ~8/10.

There's probably a lesson in there somewhere, but I can't be bothered to find it.

Re:slashdot become marketing troll (1)

peterwayner (266189) | more than 7 years ago | (#17451450)

As someone who writes these reviews from time to time, I can tell you that it's all quite rational:

* Books that get lower scores aren't worth reviewing.

* Assigning higher scores opens yourself to criticism. Look at the folks who reflexively use "fanboi" if they see something positive.

So that's the information economy at work.

In Hollywood they pay interns $75-$100 to "cover" a script and provide an honest opinion. I'm sure they have more divergence in scores.

This is another good example of the limitations of free information.

Re: Limitations of Free Media?! (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 7 years ago | (#17455394)

I feel some of the same concern reappearing that I felt about the original review and/or the subject tome it discussed.

The OldMedia empires are legendary for controlling the information *they* want distributed. Web 2.0 and higher has gotten past the BuyOurProduct crash of 2000, and now it's people posting snips of information for the rough-house good of all.

What some people are reacting to is a semi-prohibition of "don't speak ill" of reviewed items, which is partly tangled up with problems of objectivity. Negative reviews serve a warning purpose, such as when a real expert issues a Do Not Buy alert against a brilliantly marketed but terrible tome that could prove damaging as a result of a poor topic presentation.

Free media is free ... so there should be very little problem posting a negative review of a book you feel a need to warn people about.

In the original review, mention was made of the concern that Google is destroying the subsidization benefits of factoids and/or "easy news". I submit that this is just an indication that the moneymaking equations for information changed 5 years ago, and the results are only now really filtering through.

OldMedia needs to create a truce. Let the Web as a whole cover factoids. Everyone likes to talk about focusing resources, so ... focus news gathering resources on tougher subjects. As for money subsidization, the lower raw costs of electronic publication are phenomenal ... so there is less need to 'subsidize' a lower overall overhead.

Slashdot decline (1)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17451712)

The comment does not really show a decline. The person posting the parent comment had obviously not read the interview to its finish, the review was quite negative toward the end. [The review falls into the same trap as many done by "professional" reviewers, namely to function as a soapbox for the reviewers opinion on the subject matter of the book, rather than on the book itself.] Not reading TFA before commenting has always been a hallmark of /., so no decline there.

Of course, when I read the comment it was moderated +5. Usually a comment doesn't get more than one or two positive moderations before cooler heads who have had time to read TFA prevails, and moderate the comment down. So maybe the comment does after all demonstrate a decline.

Re:slashdot become marketing troll (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 7 years ago | (#17452534)

I remember, not that far back, when such blatant marketing-speak 'reviews' would've never made it.

Oh come on. I've been around here since '00 or so and even then people were saying the exact same thing. Same with every other site I've frequented for years. Things were always better back in the day.

No they weren't, you were just a noob and everything seemed so shiny and wonderful. Now you've been around the block and you see the same patterns popping up again and again and wonder what the hell happened. /. didn't change, you changed

^shi7. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17450126)

up my 7oys. I'm

Buzzwords.... (2, Funny)

syousef (465911) | more than 7 years ago | (#17450176)

I think you left out 3 or possibly 4 of the currently most overused buzzwords in your article summary. Please fix.

Re:Buzzwords.... (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 7 years ago | (#17457468)

Rather surprisingly for slashdot, Ruby on Rails wasn't mentioned.

Re:Buzzwords.... (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468482)

I know what Ruby on Rails is of course, but that doesn't stop me picturing an 80 year old drunk rotten-toothed grandmother ("Ruby") on a wheelchair on tracks shouting "yippppeeeee" as she goes past.

As for the real RoR, I started reading about Ruby and stopped within about half an hour. I couldn't help but think "Cowboy coder's dream".

Re:Buzzwords.... (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 7 years ago | (#17471432)

I know what Ruby on Rails is of course, but that doesn't stop me picturing an 80 year old drunk rotten-toothed grandmother ("Ruby") on a wheelchair on tracks shouting "yippppeeeee" as she goes past.

As for the real RoR, I started reading about Ruby and stopped within about half an hour. I couldn't help but think "Cowboy coder's dream".

Combine the two and have the granny waving a stetson and going "yee-hah!"

authors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17450258)

it's a book printed on pulp and written by two and only two authors.
Or one author and 1 sock puppet.

Re:authors (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17450620)

Or maybe someone prefers a book written by a committee ("The Iraq Report") or 10,000 monkeys writing Shakespeare?

"Paid" Information has Nothing to Fear. (1)

Erris (531066) | more than 7 years ago | (#17450512)

I've begun to feel lately that there is a real danger that free information will drive out paid information in much the same way that economists note that cheap money drives out the dear.

Get over the pulp publishing model. People published books before there was a buck to be made and they will publish even if the worst of your fears come true.

How can I say that? Easy, the information is already "free" at the library and book publishers and book stores thrive anyway. It can be argued that it's easier to get things from the library than it is to get them from a book store.

There is no downside to easier access to publishing and knowledge. Free is good.

Wikis are so over (2, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#17450656)

Wikipedia is drowning under the incoming dreck. Here are the last ten new articles on Wikipedia today:

  1. "Minnesota School of Cosmetology" ("The Minnesota School of Cosmetology is a private, for-profit, cosmetology school") -- Spam.
  2. "DiveBuddy" (a social network site for SCUBA divers.) -- Spam, deleted.
  3. "George and Carol Olmsted Foundation" ("The Olmsted Scholar Program was established by General George Olmsted.") -- Copied from web site, tagged as copyvio, deleted.
  4. Axxess2 ("Axxess2: Your special service provider for tailor made turn key solutions that guarantee you and your clients secure and successful access.") -- Spam, deleted.
  5. "Mormons for justice" ("Morons Of Justice") -- Attack article, deleted.
  6. "Scandinavian Simvastatin Survival study" (Medical article, no references) -- Might be valid, but can't tell. Tagged with "Verify".
  7. "Geraldine Santiago", created by user "Geraldinesantiago" ('Geraldine Santiago, published author and licensed realtor") - Spam, deleted.
  8. CoWare ("CoWare, Inc is the leading supplier of platform-driven electronic system level (ESL) design software and services.") - ad.
  9. "Ellis Industries" ("A very elite, botique booking agency for some of the hottest bands in today's modern hardcore/pop/punk rock scene...") -- Spam, deleted.
  10. "Dustin Thornton", created by user "dustin" - D'oh. Challenged as non-notable.

Net new encyclopedic content added: zero. That's Wikipedia today. It takes an army of hard working editors to fight off all the obvious dreck, and they're falling behind.

Re:Wikis are so over (1)

peterwayner (266189) | more than 7 years ago | (#17450850)

This is a good illustration of the problem. Many of the people who put time and energy into the wikipedia are the people like "dustin" who are probably writing about themselves. They have an incentive and a self-interest. The selfless editors are volunteers and I wouldn't be surprised if they get more and more tired of the sheer cost of success. It will be fascinating to watch this evolve because it will probably be a good example of a "tipping point" in action. If humanity has a certain amount of selflessness, the wikipedia will continue to evolve into greatness. If humanity is basically self-interested, it will devolve into ads that are thinly veiled at best.

Re:Wikis are so over (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17451238)

If humanity is basically self-interested, it will devolve into ads that are thinly veiled at best.

Or - and let's face it, this is a good idea - the most contested articles will have to end up restricted to people with a certain editing "score" - meaning that their revisions are not regularly deemed to be bullshit, and they must have a history (of whatever length, depending on the content) to make an edit.

I know all the reasons this isn't done today. Perhaps it's worth it not to do it today. I understand the rationale for allowing the whole world to edit - the whole world knows a lot more than a subset. Unfortunately the whole world is also a lot more malicious than a subset...

Re:Wikis are so over (1)

peterwayner (266189) | more than 7 years ago | (#17451594)

This is a good idea, but it only changes the speed not the overall dynamics. If there aren't enough people out there willing to earn the good editor score, the overall percentage of dreck will explode.

Re:Wikis are so over (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#17451682)

Or - and let's face it, this is a good idea - the most contested articles will have to end up restricted to people with a certain editing "score".

Doesn't help. The people who add good content typically don't make large numbers of edits, or add large numbers of articles. They write a good article or two on something they really know something about, and leave. The people who have huge edit counts are typically deleting material, not adding it. There's no obvious way to identify the good writers prospectively.

Re:Wikis are so over (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17452024)

Well, I'm not just proposing that it be based on volume of edits, but also quality of edit. That would have to be calculated from how resistant the edit is to being removed, the scores of people who remove it, the scores of people who restore it, et cetera. I'm sure it would be an enormously complex computation... but if the alternative to spending CPU time on the problem is to have Wikipedia become useless, I know which I'll choose. I'd even donate some CPU time, if it would help :)

Re:Wikis are so over (1)

HobophobE (101209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17451850)

My solution was a little different. I think they should go with versioning the articles rather than restricting the editorship. Really, there's nothing wrong with letting a billion people edit the articles, just with the noise control involved. So, for example, once they reach the 1.0 mark on a cannon of articles those articles would be viewable at a 1.0 threshold if the reader wishes. That would ensure a fairly accurate, static copy of the information. Of course, viewing the diff to the most recent would still be very easy. Idea is, you can look at things from a slightly dated, but known-good (as in a release version) or you can browse wikipedia at 'nightly' or 'development' level :o)

Re:Wikis are so over (1)

massysett (910130) | more than 7 years ago | (#17451090)

You only looked at new articles. That will pull a vastly disproportionate amount of dreck. Almost any useful topic will already have a Wikipedia article, so lots of new articles will be dreck. It would be more interesting to look at the most recent edits to all Wikipedia articles, and then I bet you'd see that there is useful content being added to Wikipedia every minute.

I call BS on this statement (1)

Raindeer (104129) | more than 7 years ago | (#17451424)

Hi,

Just did a quick survey of new entries into the wikipedia. Found one that was up for speedy deletion and a couple that will probably remain, including ones on:
= Chzech female serial killer
- Hawaian football team
- small lake somewhere in nowheresville, US
- somewhere, smalltown USA

And ofcourse a gazillion edits to a gazillion pages, some big some minor, most probably leading to a better text. So yes you found the bad ones. But unfortunately you disqualified yourself right away by only listing the bad ones and not compairing it to the amount of good ones.

Fact is. The Wikipedia is a numbers game. It gambles on the fact that the majority of the world wants to do good. It improves this numbers game by making it easier for the good people to fix what the bad people have done bad than it is for the bad people to make bad what the good people have done good. (a couple of seconds edit to fix the bad, vs a couple of minutes to trash a page properly or to set up a spam page) It could make this even easier by tweaks to the User Interface, but hey those will come in the coming years.

Wiki vs. Book? Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17450752)

That is, the book is good because it's not a wiki.

The book is also good because it's not a dead moose. What's your point? Wikis and books are different things.

Communocracy (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17450784)

Wikipedia "development" is like the mailing lists of a certain unnamed Linux distro. Thank goodness true direct democracy doesn't exist outside of a few online communities. Because experience shows that it is the opposite of meritocracy. Meritocracy is wherethe best and the brightest quietly run things. Online "communocracy" is where the worst and loudest idiots scream through their petty issues.

Re:Communocracy (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17451264)

Communism ensures that the undeserving are rewarded as well as the deserving. This is why I write on everything2 and not on wikipedia. I don't want some asshat editing what I write if they're wrong. If I'm wrong, someone can either supersede my writeup with a correct one, or inform me and I can update it. If I could count on Wikipedia users being a group of people who wouldn't fuck it all up for fun, well, I'd change my mind. When Wikipedia gets some editing restriction, I'll start writing there. Eventually, either it will get such restrictions, or it will implode.

Re:Communocracy (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17451738)

Except that communism doesn't work. If you try you just end up with a massive totalitarian state that cannot wither away. Far far better to stop trying to make other people jump through your ideological hoops, and just let volunteerism work. Sure, you might end up with one person having two cows while another has only one, but it beats the pants off of gulags and killing fields.

Save $2.59 by buying the book at Amazon.com! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17451018)

Barnes and Noble is selling this book for $18.16, but Amazon.com is only selling it for $15.57!

Save yourself $2.59 by buying the book here: Wikinomics [amazon.com] . That's a total savings of 14.26%!

Revert War! (1)

saforrest (184929) | more than 7 years ago | (#17451256)

I don't really agree with the easy way that they dismissed the danger and if I had a wiki edit button in front of me, I would change the text to amplify Lanier's warnings.

And then I would revert it, because you have provided no evidence for this beyond your own opinion (which is original research).

Really, this "review" is a bit too much about the reviewers own impressions of the social trends the book describes, than about the book itself.

Re:Revert War! (1)

peterwayner (266189) | more than 7 years ago | (#17451564)

What sort of evidence would be sufficient?

And is it even worth gathering to bolster the point? As you say, it's just an opinion, but any long-term participant with the wiki process should know it's true. It's just some folks see the destruction of information as a social good. It provides clarity and editing. Others don't.

Look, for instance, at the article on Dustin Thorton held up for ridicule on Slashdot. Perhaps it's not valuable to 99.9999% of the world, something that may make it non-notable to you and whomever marks it for deletion. But what if things change? What he grows up to be president? We're missing large amounts of data about what was called the Negro Baseball Leagues precisely because of this kind of attitude toward "notability" governed the record keepers of the past. Diskspace is cheap.

Why Wikinews Failed (1)

HooliganIntellectual (856868) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453256)

I've run a fairly popular independent news site for several years and I have experience with the Indymedia network. I also participate on Wikipedia. When Wikinews launched, I could see right away that the Wikipedia project was getting in over their collective heads. It's one thing to luanch successful reference tool projects such as Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikiquote, and so on, quite another thing to get into the news business. If you are familiar with how the news media works and how the new forms of online news work, the problems with Wikinews should be obvious. The main problem with Wikinews is that it isn't fast enough for the news cycle. It's one thing to tinker with and edit a Wikipedia article over weeks and months. A news site has to be publishing new stories throughout the day. This rapid turnover of stories is too much for something that relies on collaborative news editing. Another problem with collaborative news editing is that journalism is hard. It's not about writing a Wikipedia entry on some subject you are a fanboy about. Writing good news stories involves research, good writing, talking to sources, doing more research, and so on. Finding people who have the skills and determination to do this for FREE is difficult. Indymedia started in 1999 as an independent news network. It's been very successful, but almost every Indymedia local site suffers from a lack of original stories on local news. It's easy to write an account about a protest or an op-ed about Bush, but putting together a story on a local issue is difficult. There is a reason why the conventional wisdom in the mainstream media is that it costs money to do local news. Another reason why Wikinews failed to catch on is because there are already a plethora of excellent news sites, ranging from the big boys like CNN and the New York Times, to hundreds of small independent sites. Wikipedia made a splash because there weren't really any online encyclopedias that allowed open, mass participation. Wikinews just isn't anything new or special.

failure of logic (1)

stevenj (9583) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454912)

One of the biggest logical problems I've found with the wikipedia is the inconsistent way that the movement treats traditional scholarship. On one hand, we're supposed to revel in the way that the wikipedia is often better than traditional mechanisms, but on the other hand the wikipedia gives more weight to outside sources. [...] If the wikis become good enough to rival if not replace original sources, where will the wikis find the outside beacons of authority? Any strict logician will realize that there's a danger of proving 1=0 with this system [...].

Any strict logician will realize that the English language is imprecise enough that it is easy to make fallacious claims of "logic" or "paradox" based on naive parsing and superficial interpretation.

In this case, there is no inconsistency. Wikipedia aims to become a premier tertiary source (i.e., merely summarizing established knowledge), fulfilling the role of both traditional and specialized encyclopedias. It does not seek to replace primary and secondary sources (those which provide new information and interpretation). In fact, any attempt to do so in Wikipedia will be deleted because it is against their official policy [wikipedia.org] . So, even if it succeeds in eliminating all competing tertiary sources (which seems unlikely), there is no reason why Wikipedia should lack reliable primary and secondary sources to cite and summarize.

It is precisely this distinction that the reviewer fails to grasp in his complaint about deletion of (unspecified) "good information" on the grounds of non-notability [wikipedia.org] . Because Wikipedia is not a primary or secondary source, it is not the appropriate place for "knowledge" that appears almost nowhere else, or cannot be found in any independent, reputable, published source—this is precisely what is meant by "non-notability" in Wikipedia.

Re:failure of logic (1)

peterwayner (266189) | more than 7 years ago | (#17456690)

You're missing my point. While the Wikipedia may position itself as a tertiary source and enforce a policy of NOR, but the rest of the world doesn't pick up on this. Nor does the Wikipedia push this effort outside of internal discussion boards. In the famous comparison with Encyclopedia Britanica, the Wikipedia folks seemed pretty happy to be placed on par with the famous rival. There was little public correction saying, "No. We're not in Britannica's league. We don't allow experts to synthesize information for us. That's for the secondary sources. We're just a tertiary source." Until there's more public self-deprecation, I'm going to stick with my categorization.

Re:failure of logic (1)

stevenj (9583) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468486)

First, Britannica is also a tertiary source, just like Wikipedia aims to be; just because they employ experts doesn't mean that they publish any new results or interpretations. (Don't confuse a summary, which simply repeats known information in a condensed form, with a novel synthesis, which combines information in order to draw new conclusions and reveal new relationships. Tertiary sources like Wikipedia and Britannica do the former but not the latter.)

Second, regardless of how Wikipedia is perceived by people who don't understand its policies, as long as Wikipedia does not permit editors to publish novel theories, analyses, interpretations, information, etcetera, then there will be a market for reputable sources that do provide original research. If I'm a scientist and I want to publish a research paper, then I have to go to a scientific journal, regardless of how good Wikipedia's reputation (currently nowhere near that of professional journals, with good reason) becomes. If I'm a reader and I want up-to-date, original reporting of the news, I have to go to a newspaper or other media outlet, because I won't find that information in Wikipedia (except as an abbreviated summary, after the fact). In fact, I would argue that Wikipedia helps to drive more traffic towards quality sources, because it provides links and references (at least, this is the policy), which readers must follow in order to find more in-depth information than the general overview found in an encyclopedia (however specialized or comprehensive). I often find Wikipedia articles more useful than Google searches, precisely because their links are the result of a human being scouring the Web for the most useful sources.

Wikipedia has never claimed, or aimed, to be a replacement for newspapers, scientific journals, textbooks, and so on, and there is no danger of its doing so, much less "logical inconsistency".

Re:failure of logic (1)

peterwayner (266189) | more than 7 years ago | (#17471774)

Does Britannica think of itself as a secondary source or a tertiary source? Perhaps both. Employing experts for their expertise with primary (and secondary materials) makes it seem more like a secondary source to me. This is all rather nebulous and not worth debating because most papers are a mixture. Many scientific papers in referreed journals are primary sources and only refer to other works to put their original work in context. But then they switch over to secondary for sections and even become tertiary sources themselves.

It's also impossible to debate whether Wikipedia claims to be anything because I edited some page to make the claims I wanted. Someone reverted it but I'll fix it back in a second. :-) Seriously, many fans of wikipedia make many claims about it as they revel in what's been accomplished. And you even say that it's replacing Google for you-- something that should give the boys in Mountain View pause. But I'm more interested in the end game, after the CB Radio honeymoon. There is a very real possibility that the Encyclopedia Brittanica and many many other reference books will be killed off by the wikipedia. This may be great for many reasons, but it's important to understand the downsides as we snort the hype.

My guess is the logical inconsistency depends upon whether you believe that the Wikipedia can stand above and apart from the regular body of knowledge. If it is separate, you can maintain the logical consistency. But what happens when people who print books or scientific journal articles use Wikipedia with or without citing it? Now, can a Wikipedia article be based upon that printed work? What happens after these facts get repeated through several cycles? There's a real possibility that the general quality of the Wikipedia will make it a default reference work in many fields-- something that's probably going to happen as more graduate students grow up trusting it. But this is only a general quality and it shifts with the intellectual tides.

Ultimately, these points can also be made about the old dead-tree realm. The scale is just bigger now and the speed is dramatically quicker. And given that the dead-tree world has given us many printed equivalents to 1=0, I'm see no reason to believe that the Wikipedia will be any different.

The title is terrible and apropos at the same time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17456776)

It can be read as "wiki" + "economics" or "wiki" + "nomic" [wikipedia.org] .
In many ways working on wikipedia is like playing a nomic. People are always talking about rules, making up new rules, talking about unwritten rules, claims rules exist when they don't... changing rules..
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?