Don Tapscott and Wikinomics


Every so often I read a book that becomes a ‘benchmark’ for my thinking. One of these was in 1999 when I read Don Tapscott’s “Growing Up Digital” – elements of which I’ve referred to frequently in the work I’ve done since then. No surprise then that Don’s latest book, Wikinomics, has had a similar effect. Wikinomics has had phenomenal success at the bookstore, with reviews in every corner of cyberspace. It captures the essence of what it means, and will mean, to live in the so-called Web2.0 world, and provides a clear vision of the sorts of behaviours and thinking that will be required to succeed in this world – in business, in education.. in life.

It was with great interest then that I sat back this afternoon and viewed the clip I’ve embedded above – of Don Tapscott discussing his book, “Wikinomics,” in conversation with Google CEO Eric Schmidt. It’s a full 50 minutes long, but worth taking the time to view. In the clip Don traverses the key themes of his book, and also responds to questions from the audience, many of which mirror the sorts of things that most viewers might want to ask.

Here’s a collection of some of my notes from the clip – key points and messages that I’m sure will become the focus of discussions in the future…

  • reference made to the looming ‘perfect storm’ – a convergence of four forces:
    1. Technology
    2. Demographics
    3. Social
    4. Economic
  • Web2.0 is at the centre of the Technology ‘storm’ – where the object of interest is changing; from the desktop to smart, communicating devices, from HTML to XML, and from consuming to participation.
  • “Success in the old paradigm becomes intertia in the new one” – a great quote when considering why current leadership practices may not be preparing us for the future!
  • “Vested interests fight against change” – quotes the example of the music industry facing the issue of music downloads through social networks. Tapscott challenges them to think of music as a service rather than a product.
  • Quote from Peter Senge – The person at the top can’t learn for the organisation anymore” – a characteristic of Wikinomics will be the “Learning Organsiation” proposed by Senge some years ago now
  • “Leaders of old paradigms have great difficulty coping with the new” – noting that the old fashioned “iconic” models that typify the “broadcast” approach to leadership are being replaced by those who are truly networked and participatory.

Tapscott also shares some insights into how this will affect governments, using some personal stories to explain what this will mean for democracy, and the change from a “broadcast view” to a “participatory”one.

There’s also a really useful discussion at the end of the interview that focuses on education. The original question focused on universities, but Tapscott generalises to the whole education sector, saying “The model of pedagogy needs to change to address the needs of a generation who have grown up participating, not just being broadcast to”. He refers to the issue of user-generated content, and a range of other ideas that are entirely consistent with what I have been working with in the work I do over the past few years.

While at first glance this book appears aimed at the business sector, the key messages and principles it explores make it a “must read” for anyone in the education sector who has the slightest interest in understanding the environment that our schools are now operating in – and perhaps to understand why for many of our young people they simply aren’t working any more! If you can’t get hold of the book, then this clip (above) is certainly a good starting point!

2 thoughts on “Don Tapscott and Wikinomics

  1. Thanks Eddie
    all fixed now – they’d moved the video somehow – have re-inserted the new URL and it works OK on the blog now

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