What are the key principles of wikinomics?
1. Openness
2. Peering
3. Sharing
4. Acting globally


What is the wiki workplace?
Tapscott and Williams tell us how wikis, chat rooms, blogs, and other new technologies are giving individual workers a greater ability to communicate and collaborate more quickly. Numerous anecdotes are told of Geek Squad specifically, whose employees not only used a wiki to great effect when collaboratively designing a flash drive at Best Buy's behest, but also used an online video game to keep in touch with fellow Agents across the country.

Unlike more traditional, somewhat militaristic office structures, Geek Squad's openness, peering, and sharing allows for creativity and fun, leading to unforeseen breakthroughs like the "prequelitis" downloadable excuse note that garnered so much great PR.


What are some potential problems and/or limits to wikinomics?
In their section appropriately titled “The Dark Side of Wikinomics,” Tapscott & Williams identify (and respond to) two primary obstacles in applying this new philosophy to businesses productively: The Ignorance of Crowds and The End of Intellectual Property (Tapscott 271). With the first problem, many have argued that information always needs some sort of "gatekeeper" in order to ensure accuracy and quality. A common example of this type of control would be an editor for a book. In wikinomics there is no such governing, which leaves the proverbial doors open for any person to produce any content of any level. The second problem is related to the means by which we credit individuals with their contributions. If all of us have edited this wiki page, to whom does the writing actually belong?

Another perspective examines the usefulness of wikinomics in innovation and business. The publication strategy + business commented, "Peer production is best viewed as a means for refining the old rather than inventing the new; that it’s an optimization model more than an invention model." This raises some questions about how quickly businesses should embrace this new Web 2.0 philosophy.



What is a prosumer? What consequences do prosumers have for the way businesses work?
According to Tapscott and Williams, “prosumers” are people who are at once developers, community members, and entrepreneurs (Tapscott 125). In the instance of Second Life (a virtual world where participants interact in fictitious roles), the authors say that it’s not a typical "product" or video game because the “‘consumers’ are also the producers” (125).

The authors are advocating collaboration – businesses collaborate with users, instead of shutting them out. While some organizations are stymied as to how to deal with these so-called “prosumers,” others regard prosumers as beneficial; that is, they get free R&D. By way of example, both Apple and Sony experienced prosumers hacking their products, iPod and PlayStation Portable (PSP), respectively. When Apple learned of the hacking, they did not take a public stance in favor of it or against it. Sony, on the other hand, publicly denounced the prosumers’ hacking, and “[took] steps to retroactively lock up its PSP platform” (135) in an effort to prevent (at least theoretically) further hacking. According to wikinomic principles and forecasting, both companies should have found a way to address the shift in the business paradigm and blend some prosumer collaboration into their business models.

These two examples illustrate the crossroads companies are at today. On one hand, collaboration with customers can provide ingenious alterations and development for products and services. On the other hand, companies risk opening themselves up to their competitors by sharing what once was considered trade secrets.


What are the best/worst environments for prosumers as part of a business model?
Prosumers are likely to thrive in businesses that create electronic devices with software platforms or in areas that rely heavily of digital information or media. Software code and digital information can be relatively easy and cheap to change. The iPhone is a good example of a successful prosumer business model. According to Apple's Developer Program License Agreement, anyone can download a software developer kit and design their own applications, called "apps", which they can then sell through the App store. Developers set their own price and receive 70% of the profits, but Apple retains the right to decide whether or not it will offer the application. Traditional manufacturing companies will have a hard time adjusting to a prosumer model because they work with raw materials that are fashioned into finished products on assembly lines. Manufacturing companies keep their prices low by running large quantities of similar product through their assembly lines at one time. Each time workers create a new product; they must disassemble part of the assembly line and reconfigure it for a different type of product. Consequently a run of one or two of the same product will cost significantly more than a run of 5,000 of a given product. It is unlikely that prosumers will be able to design their own cars, tools, or household appliances because of these cost considerations.



What effect does prosumerism have on contemporary art?
According to Janice Leung, in I Turn My (Digital) Camera On, as digital technology continues to advance and “user-generated content continues to saturate every crevice of the public’s imagination . . . art organizations must take up these social and technological habits and contextualize them to fulfill their own interests.” She goes on to discuss that allowing art forums and exhibits to become “inclusive, rather than exclusive” allows the public “to share, to participate, and to communicate . . . In a more personal and provocative fashion” (Leung 4). Authors of Wikinomics, Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams, suggest that we are in the middle of an “explosion of cultural innovation,” as “amateur artwork, music, photos, stories, and videos” are constantly being uploaded and viewed on the internet (Tapscott 137). Leung gives an example of an exhibition, We are All Photographers Now!, that shifts the “boundaries between artists, curators, and audience members by soliciting and displaying the works of amateur photographers in a module of the exhibition” (Leung 4). This prosumer culture allows the ability to broadcast artwork quicker and easier than ever before. Customers are able to submit their own designs for a product, and a company creates it, either for mass production or personal use. However, as accessibility to submitting artwork–images, spoken word, and written word–becomes easier, does our culture run the risk of diluting art? Does the increase of creativity challenge the institute of art? What are the qualifications of professional artists and writers if the ability to be published and publicly recognized is available to all?




Are all prosumers created equal?
Quite simply, no. While Tapscott and Williams provide numerous examples of how prosumerism successfully levels hierarchies between users and creators, their text fails to account how not all prosumers “co-innovate” or participate in the “explosion of creativity” in the same ways. In a recent New York Times article, Noam Cohen points to recent data collected by Wikipedia which finds around 13% of contributors are women. Wikipedia is not the only collaborative source online that has such a vast gender difference: “According to the OpEd Project, an organization based in New York that monitors the gender breakdown of contributors to ‘public thought-leadership forums,’ a participation rate of roughly 85-to-15 percent, men to women, is common — whether members of Congress, or writers on The New York Times and Washington Post Op-Ed pages” (Cohen). These studies raise serious questions for the efforts of prosumerism. Tapscott and Williams claim prosumerism is democratizing the media (Tapscott 146). However, the unequal presence of women in prosumer activities undermines their claims. Democratized media is “rapidly transforming our notions of how expertise, relevance, and professionalism develop”, but it recapitulates existing gender hierarchies (ibid). Furthermore, other social hierarchies, like race, heteronormativity, and class may not be impacted by democratized media created by prosumers.



Response:
I find this to be a very strange argument. I'm all for gender equality, but I fail to see how "prosumerism" is 'perpetuating old hierarchies.' Wikipedia is a fully open wiki that anyone can write for. There is nothing stopping women from writing for Wikipedia. It's not like users need to be elected (as members of Congress do), or go through a lengthy, highly selective hiring process (as writers for the New York Times do). As such, I fail to see how this is a failure of "prosumerism." Perhaps, instead, it is more indicative of a problem of our culture as a whole. I also find the assumption that, since women are underrepresented among Wikipedia's users that other minorities must be as well to be a rather large leap.

Response: Women can participate in collaborative projects like Wikipedia. However, only 13% of contributors are women and this seems to beg the question: why don’t more women participate? Is there something about the medium of wikis? Does the method of communicating in wikis discriminate? Is this further evidence of a digital divide? Many researchers believe online communication recapitulates existing gender inequalities. In “Women and the Internet: Promise and Perils,” Janet Morahan-Martin suggests, “at first glance, the lack of social presence online and in other forms of computer-mediated communication (CMC) does seem to liberate users from the limitations of their real-life persona, allowing communication between equals. However, status differentials remain in CMC. Arguably, because the Internet is a textbased communication, linguistic patterns may be amplified online” (Morahan-Martin 687). In other words, moving collaboration online does not eliminate pre-existing hierarchies. Issues of race and gender cross the internet. Therefore, prosumerism may not have the democratizing power Tapscott and Williams claim it has. Response: The problem with this question is its wording. The phrase "created equal" carries a connotation that leads to a discussion on human rights, racial and gender equality and away from the issue of qualifications. The question leads us to consider the traits of prosumers themselves, rather than the quality of the work they produce. Does quality of work depend on gender and racial differences? Not necessarily. If a prosumer participating in Wikipedia does not verify sources or fact check, the quality of work suffers regardless of the person's socioeconomic background, race or gender. A better question to ask here is what qualifications a prosumer must have to produce quality work. Those qualifications will depend on the nature of the work. Prosumers who create Apps for the iPhone will probably have a background in software development. The best Prosumers for Wikipedia should probably have a background in writing, editing or journalism or they could be a subject matter expert. Once we establish the basic qualifications for an effective prosumer, then we can consider other issues such as diversity.









Isn't prosuming just like customizing?
Tapscott and Williams say that prosumption is more than marketing disguised as customer advocacy, and that it goes further than just product customization (Tapscott 147). They also go on to differentiate the two by saying that customization occurs when a customer gets an off-the-shelf product adjusted to his or her specification. But then wouldn't prosumization be just a higher version of customization? You get to do anything with a product that you want; no limits, which tends to be the only difference. With the given example of Second Life, Tapscott and Williams introduce the chapter by defining prosumers generally as being created by its customers, or "consumers," which are also producers, thus giving them the name "prosumers." Tapscott and Williams love the idea of prosumption, but what do the prosumers get in return? The only section where a prosumer gets any type of pay or hire-on from any of these companies was the Lego Mindstorms, where in 2005 Lego takes on four of its most prolific users on as de facto employees for the eleven-month development cycle. The idea of the prosumer seems merely like a way for big businesses to get free research and development by means of giving it a new name (prosumption), when really all it is big business opening up to hacking and being open enough to look at new ideas for free. It is, by means of having fewer limitations, a different form of customization for the user. The term "prosumer" suggests someone is adding value to a product, but often these prosumers innovate for free, receiving little more than affirmation from big business that their ideas present an intriguing selling point.

Response: The real distinction between customization and “prosumption” comes in the product. If I were to buy a car tomorrow, I would be able to use all the normal features of that car without any need to do any other work (other than normal maintenance). If I wanted, I could buy custom parts, add spoilers, rims, spinners, lights, and high performance parts, but I don’t need to do any of that to get what I paid for. On the other hand, perhaps the most important feature of Second Life (SL) is that you can literally create and program anything you want. SL, as a program, is completely free. It costs no money to sign up for an account and to download the program. The services that users pay for on SL revolve around customizing their avatars and building environments for them to move around in. More importantly, the main appeal of Second Life is that all that customized, user-created content is available to other residents to explore and purchase. For example, my friend Aaron is an administrator for a Star Wars simulation on Second Life, and has spent hundreds of hours building up the sim into what amounts to a full-fledged city (along with several other environments). His return for these efforts is that the simulation is more appealing to other users, which draws more people into the role-playing environment. The additional users and the more immersive environments make for a richer, higher-quality experience. And, of course, he gets satisfaction out of being able to create these things. Though he hasn’t done this yet, other users are able to sell the things they create to other users for Linden Dollars, which can be sold for real life money.







Is Web 2.0 innovative because of "open internet"? What happens if the internet is no longer "free"?
Tapscott and Williams argue that the wide range of innovations that have produced the "Wikinomy" are because the "wild beast" of the Internet has not been tamed, services have not been charged for (apart from basic access), and in the exchange of ideas, all things are created equal. They paint a dismal picture of what will happen if telecommunications companies are allowed to sell bandwidth speeds and search engine rights to the highest bidders, gloomily predicting that such a trend would "extinguish the fire of innovation....This is not just a war against the open Internet," they warn, "it's a war against economic development, a war against competitiveness, and a war against innovation. In short, it's a war against the future" (Tapscott 284).

Is there something to their doomsday scenarios? As Tom Steinert-Threlkeld reported on the blog "Between the Lines," Barry Diller, CEO of the highly profitable Internet company IAC, predicted at an Advertising 2.0 conference in June of 2009 that "the Internet is passing from its free days into a paid system," describing its free nature as more of an accidental consequence of billing system complications rather than a gesture of altruism and goodwill to the worldwide web community. Though he predicted that within five years' time, popular web sites would charge for glances at their content, much like Apple product users now pay for "apps", readers of the blog were quick to retort that the Internet is already "paid," via service providers and advertisements, and that a future in which sites become pay-per-view is unthinkable. Recent calls for Internet regulation are not just economic, but political as well. According to a report by Tom Gjelten of National Public Radio, in December of 2010, emerging "power" countries, including India, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, have initiated debates at the United Nations regarding international Internet regulation, pointing out that certain countries, the United States preeminent amongst them, have greater access to the "free flow" of information than they ought to. Issues of international fair access, government control over civic activity, and the friction between boundless information and domestic morality laws need to be considered, they argue; several of these countries have united in an effort to lobby the U.N. to institute an international "gate keeper" of sorts that would keep Internet activities morally acceptable, government-compatible, and economically fair on a worldwide level. In response, the United States and its allies argue that such controls would limit free speech, free enterprise, and technology-based innovation.


References
Cohen, Noam. “Define Gender Gap? Look Up Wikipedia’s Contributor List”. The New York Times Online. 30 Jan 2011. Web. 1 Feb 2011.<http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/31/business/media/31link.html>.

Leung, Janice. "I Turn My (Digital) Camera On." Wi: Journal of the Mobile Digital Commons Network 2 (2006): 1-9. Web. 30 Jan. 2011. <__http://wi.hexagram.ca/2_1_html/2_1_pdf/wi.2.1.leung.pdf__>.

Morahan-Martin, Janet. “Women and the Internet: Promise and Perils.” CyberPsychology and Behavior 3.5 (2000). Web. 4 Feb. 2011. <http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/10949310050191683?journalCode=cpb>.

Tapscott, Dan, and Anthony D. Williams. Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything. London: Penguin. 2010. Print.