Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Harness Power of the Crowd

The recent Times essay about the silent Chinese revolt by bloggers and millions of other online activists, who have collectively managed to scupper the flaky plans by the Chinese government to implement Green Dam, really highlights the power of social/Web2.0 tools.

Green Dam was supposed to be the latest in the long line of draconian internet censorship methods instigated by the Chinese government. It was going to take the shape of essentially a piece of spyware installed on every new PC shipped. If you want an idea just how much effort and money the Chinese government has been spending on censoring the interweb , read last year's WIRED article on the great firewall of China. It's truly shocking.

So the online masses of China issued forth, and forced a change, by using blogs, forums, youtube, twitter, facebook ,etc, etc. In a similar manner to the recent uprisings in Iran, where by video footage of crowd protests were being posted up to youtube for the whole world to witness another heavy handed state, trample over its citizens bodies and opinions. This use of online networks to allow like minded people to join up, collaborate and become bigger than the sum of it's parts is very exciting. We are witnessing the use of technologies in disruptive methods we never envisaged.

When we as trainers and educators talk about the collaborative potential of Web 2.0 we cite exemplars such as Wikipedia, and the thousands of active discussion fora we visit to harness the power of those whose experience and knowledge we want to tap into.

This new "Open Source" business model sharing and outsourcing of ideas to the "crowd" has been reported in two seminal text in recent years, the first called crowdsourcing by Jeff Howe looks at this from a new business model perspective. Read more about his book and blog, and watch the trailer below:

The other recent book that discusses this use of mass collaboration and sharing is the book and wiki, Wikinomics. I've read bits of this book, and it's very interesting from a perspective of how big business are looking to use the Open Source model to research and bring new products to market using a collaborative approach. The wiki link above is the whole book, which was the platform used to edit the book. Watch one of the editors talk about the ethos that underpins wikinomics:

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