I’ve just finished reading two interesting books about the modern Internet and where it’s going. They are:
- ‘The Long Tail: How Endless Choice Is Creating Unlimited Demand’ by Chris Anderson
- ‘Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything’ by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams
There are good wikipedia summaries of these two books here:
These books are primarily about the the economics of business on the Internet, but they contain a lot that can be applied to my own area of interest, namely how academic scientific research is done on the Internet.
Despite the focus on making money, software engineers with an interest in open-source software and collaborative tools (like Wikis) should read them.
The Long Tail is a bit repetitive and its message is really quite simple – the tools that are now available on the Internet mean that it makes sense to develop web-related access to resources that individually have low demand but which in total make up a high proportion of all possible resources. This can apply to academic resources that come in digital format (books, journal articles, research papers, datasets etc.) as well as economic commodities.
Wikinomics has a lot to say about using the Internet for collaboration and uses a lot of buzz-phrases that repay deeper analysis:
- Ideagoras (or Knowledge Markets)
- The Net Generation
- Peer Production
- Collective Intelligence (or the Wisdom of Crowds)
It explicitly applies its ideas of openness, peering, sharing and acting globally beyond the world of business into the world of academic research and even comes up with a buzz-phrase for this: ‘New Alexandrians’.
However, one buzz-phrase that is conspicuous by its absence is ‘web 2.0′ (see my previous blog posting about this ‘What ‘mashups’ are exactly, and why I hate the term ‘web 2.0?‘) – this makes me think that the authors know what they are doing, and despite all these new terms they know nonsense when they see it.
There is a recently-published book that is a natural successor to these books that might be worth reading too:
Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirky (who also wrote this piece that neatly summarises the concepts of controlled vocabularies and folksonomies and to which I’ve referred to in this previous blog posting).
Chris Anderson is also currently pushing a new concept he has labelled ‘freeconomics’: