Reflection based on blog notes

August 19, 2008

Unfortunately, I was too sick to go to the class yesterday, so I stayed at home resting, trying to recover from a possible ulcer (doctors haven’t found out yet, I am hoping to find a gastro-intestinal specialist available in the next days).  I am feeling better today, so I will post.

First of all, I really enjoyed watching Rubi’s video. It was very creative, short, and I am sure that it took her a long time to capture all those images. Good job. It was an inventive way to tell the story of journalism and to start a review with an inquiry. I really liked her voice too, it sounded very pleasant and clear. I truly believe she should work with radio (should we say podcasts?).

Second, I did look at the humanclock.com and I am not sure if I understand it. Well, in reality I would say that there are many things online I don’t get it. When a person first told me that other people were spending their precious minutes “typing sentences to say what they are doing”, in other words, twittering, I found ridiculous. Nowadays, however, you can find me twittering too. So, going back to the humanclock, do they keep showing the same pictures day after day? Is the same set of pictures for 7:24am to 7:24pm? I felt curious about it and I might check it some other time. It amazes me that people create all these strange businesses online and there are so many people who readily begin using them. After reading Wikinomics, I keep thinking about getting an MBA and coming up with an idea that sells, though not necessarily a bright one. 

Third, I would like to say I really enjoyed this class. It was very challenging for a new international student, but I can confidently say I learned a lot in this quarter.


Wikinomics – Questions

August 16, 2008

1. The authors present the concept of “Ideagoras”, i.e., an online global marketplace that finds qualified researchers who can solve companies’ problems. How do companies financially evaluate the price of a solution? How to value an idea?

2. Referring to the new information economy, Tapscott and Williams argue that an individual in a developing country can be “joining the global economy on an equal footing” (pp.13). Are there not other factors, such as social class, level of education, infrastructure, legal system, and quality of life, which should be also considered to affirm such strong statement?

3. In the chapter three, the authors comment that most of people who work on Linux also work for another industry. Why are the authors so confident that people will keep collaborating, if Linux – one of the greatest examples of mass collaboration – doesn’t help individuals to profit?


The New Economics of Collaboration

August 16, 2008

Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything. Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams. New York: Penguin Books 2008. 351 pp.

I beg your pardon, reader, but I need to start by asking you a question that is also the last sentence of the book: “Is your mind wired for Wikinomics”? I hope it doesn’t affect your reading experience. Wait. I do have to explain what Wikinomics is first. To the authors, Wikinomics is an art and science based on four ideas: openness, peering, sharing, and acting globally. They believe that if you, an individual or company, apply these concepts in your business, you cause innovation and collaboration, amplifying your chances to succeed in the market. Before you organize your thoughts and answer my question, I will try to answer it myself by showing you some pictures:

Most of these networks are examples of the Wikinomics concept in the book, so unpretentiously I would say: “Yes, of course my mind is wired for Wikinomics. Do you not see it?” However, thinking critically – I believe that being part of Wikinomics is not the same thing as “doing Wikinomics”. From the individual’s perspective, I believe the book lacks some explanations regarding how to make a profitable business using this art. On the other hand, it gives vivid and detailed examples of companies that are lucratively adopting Wikinomics, and it shows the full potential of a generation that is growing up digital.

The authors present limited ways for individuals to profit from Wikinomics. In chapter four, the authors explore the concept of ideagoras, i.e., global marketplaces that find uniquely qualified minds. To exemplify it they discuss InnoCentive’s purpose, which is to make industrial and business problems available to allow the global scientific community to solve them. Tapscott and Williams affirm that researchers from all over the world can use their skills to help these businesses and perhaps be financially compensated. Nonetheless, they do not consider that researchers need to have a complete infra-structure to work on complex research. You may argue that researchers can use universities’ labs to do their work, but if they are not rewarded by the company who purposed the problem, it is unfeasible for a university to donate, for example, expensive chemical substances to help one individual to build reputation or to be recognized for his or her capabilities.

Another example of individuals profiting from Wikinomics is in chapter seven, where the authors recount Paul Rademacher’s case. Rademacher was a developer who built his business on Google open platform, and was later hired by them. I think that his example is too restricted to suggest that others can also monetize good ideas utilizing tools for collaboration. How many people have ideas and how many angel investors are out there? Tapscott and Williams also don’t clarify that people need to have management knowledge or software background to successfully run a business based on the Internet’s democratizing tools. While I was reading the book, I also felt that I urgently had to have my own business and use the benefits and great opportunities that the Internet offers, especially when the authors used strong statements such as “a world where only the connected will survive” (pp. 12), “If you expect to be around in the next decade your organization will need to find ways to join and lead prosumer communities” (pp. 49) or “effectively, it’s globalize or die” (pp. 61). However, gaining visibility and running a business is more complex than peering, sharing, and so on.

On the positive side, Taspcott and Williams give examples of winning companies that use new models of production based on communities and collaboration. Proctor and Gamble is one of the companies utilizing InnoCentive to expand opportunities and increase its R&D capacity. Another example is Merck Pharmaceutical, which is working in a partnership with Washington University School of Medicine and creating a public database of gene sequences. I think the book is especially relevant to managers who want better understand how private companies are adapting to an approach of openness and using different strategies for creation. Business leaders can benefit from the details and evidence of the success of distinct industries that are using Wikinomics.

Another well-formulated insight is about the net generation. The net generation is the group of young people who is growing up immersed in the digital age. I think Tapscott and Williams are correct in arguing that growing-up digital changes a cultural orientation. People will compare and contrast different sources of information, they will be willing to share and to participate in diverse communities, they will want to act globally in the workplace. They will be open-minded and hunt for innovation and interaction everywhere. One point that was not clear concerns what I call “half-way net generation”. The authors argue that people born between 1977 and 1996 are part of the net-generation. However, I think a change of mentality, mainly in the work environment, doesn’t happen so easily if a person has already worked in a conventional workplace. I believe Tapscott and Williams are right only when refer to a generation who literally used its first computer connected to Internet when they were four to six-years-old.

Going back to my first inquiry, I would respond “My mind is partially wired for Wikinomics”. If I happen to be a business manager some day, I will be aware of many successful actions of companies who invested in openness, sharing, peering, and acting globally. Then I will definitely try to use this knowledge to profit and to find solutions to my company’s problems. However, if I remain a user, I will keep updating my Flickr, my Facebook, and the entire set I showed in the introduction. I will use Skype if the quality doesn’t decrease with its super-access. If I truly believe in my potential as a wiki-consumer-producer I may first pursue a business or computer science degree. Did this help you to decide if your mind is wired for Wikinomics? Leave a comment.


Experiences with DRM

August 13, 2008

Before the beginning of the MCDM program I didn’t have a very clear idea of what Digital Rights Management (DRM) was. I knew, however, that I had had a very unpleasant experience when I first got my iTouch. I had trouble with different music standards when I tried to transfer songs from my old mp3-player (Creative) to Apple’s fancy and nice device. Some of the music files would not appear on iTunes music list and there was no way to put them into my iPod. I also could not copy my boyfriend’s music because he had already used his five-computer licenses.

I had another experience with DRM in Brazil one year ago. My mom was having problems with her computer and asked my brother – a Microsoft developer, who lives in Seattle – to fix it. He was in Brazil at that time and he found out that he could not fix her computer because she was using a pirated copy of Windows XP! He had to call a friend and co-worker, who was in Redmond, to buy a license for my mom and ask him to give the key over the phone to validate Windows.

The last DRM-story is my boyfriend’s friend story. He used to download music from Napster, as did almost everyone when the program was in its best, most popular and illegal days. He downloaded music of different bands, including Metallica. Metallica had asked Napster’s managers to prohibit downloading their music and Napster responded that they could not be responsible for what people shared and downloaded on the network. The band then asked their fans to locate the users who were getting their music illegally. They did that, and they found my boyfriend’s friend. When he tried to use Napster, he read the following message “Banned by Metallica!”. He was not able to use the service until he found a document on the internet detailing the method Napster used to prevent him from accessing the network, and removed the files Napster had installed on his machine.


Brightcove: television on demand

August 7, 2008

My experience with BrightCove was mostly positive. Even though I had difficulty watching the channels yesterday from 9pm to 10:30pm, I woke up around 6:15am this morning and I had relatively easy access to all videos. I think for people who have Clearwire and other wireless “high-speed” Internet, Brightcove may not work well. When you arrive at home and have some time to watch programs is exactly the period when everyone else is also using the Internet. For people accustomed to push a button on a remote control and to watch a television show immediately, 20 minutes or more of delay is just not acceptable.     

 

The channel I chose on Brightcove was Animal Planet. I especially liked the menus on the upper part of the site, with specific topics like “Pet training”, “Pet trends”, “Explore by subject”, and others. “Explore by subject” is the most useful, in my opinion, because there are a variety of categories under that, such as “Wild Animals” and “Prehistoric Beasts and Legends”.

 

I think the audio quality was better than the video quality. When I enlarged the videos, I could see pixels and the expansion on dimensions was not very significant. If one expects a real television experience online, it might be a little frustrating. Moreover, I had to wait to buffer long videos, even when the Internet connection was good.

  

All videos had short ads before the beginning of the program. I think this might be the best way to gain revenue, but Brightcove administrators should match the ads with the theme or at least with the category of the television show. I watched a commercial for Tide before watching a family of meerkats trying to hunt for food, for example. The other way they monetize is offering DVD shows and video downloads, right under the video screen. I believe Brightcove could successfully offer products related to the video. For example, adding links to pet food or a pet shop under the videos on “Pet training” or linking sites such as Expedia under “Wild Animals” with a suggestion of a trip to Africa would be a good idea.    

 

I believe Brightcove is similar to the websites we will see in the future of online television. It has a variety of content, it is simple to use, it has a revenue stream (still based on the ads, but they might find something else) and it has good material. I personally will keep watching other Brightcove channels, but I will only try them during non-peak hours.


Children, Education and Internet

August 5, 2008

Even though we had several interesting discussions in class last night, I believe I was most interested in Howard Rheingold’s concerns about children’s education. I have asked myself before how the internet has been changing the way kids learn and research.

I remember when I was in elementary school our research sources were basically limited to magazines, newspapers, textbooks, and encyclopedias. We would photocopy the material (especially figures), would glue them to our notebook, and would have photocopied illustrations with a handwritten subtitle. The homework text would be a summary of three to five resources and my classmates wouldn’t turn in different work.

Today, with Internet and web tools, children are able to look for very specific themes, have information from different sources from all over the world, and contrast diverse points of view. They can watch videos to make the homework more interesting, listen podcasts, participate in virtual communities, and use virtual environments to discuss lessons, such as the world Second Life.

Moreover, children can communicate to their classmates much more quickly and easily than we could do in the past. I still remember that when I was a kid and had to call my classmates to discuss a group project, my mom would be controlling the time I was spending on the phone. Today, children have cell phones, laptop computers, Skype, and all kinds of tools that facilitate interaction.

I believe professor Howard had an interesting point when he said that children need to be taught how to question authority. Even though there are procedures to check information, people –especially young people – have difficulty adopting a critical attitude regarding the accuracy of information. When there are thousands of hits for a term search on an engine, it is impossible to guarantee veracity. I wonder if it was not actually easier to have fewer options to look at…


Questions: The Wealth of Networks

August 3, 2008

 

1. Benkler defines culture as “the product of a dynamic process of engagement among those who make up a culture” (pp. 282). He also states that internet makes possible the peer production of information, knowledge, and culture. How can Internet produce another culture by people from different cultures? 

 

2. Considering the Benkler’s concept of culture above. What cultures or sub-cultures have become more transparent and grown as a result of the Internet, and what cultures have been unaffected or shrunk?

 

3. Why would authoritarian governments support the development of networks when they know that it is extremely hard to control them? Does everyone want to help to build a healthier global society?