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Wikinomics and Mainstream Web 2.0

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Along with Toronto blogosphere luminaries such as David Crow of Ambient Vector and DemoCamp fame, Mark Kuznicki of Remarkk, ex-Flockster Will Pate (soon to be a Torontonian, I hear), Eli Singer of CaseCamp and Tom Purves of firestoker, I attended the launch of Don Tapscott’s new book Wikinomics – subtitled “How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything” – on Thursday at U of T. My first thought? Bob Rae looks a bit like a Muppet character.

My second thought was that Web 2.0 must be crossing some kind of Rubicon, when a guy like Don can get that many corporate types into a room for the launch of a book about wikis and blogs and peer-to-peer collaboration. And he does it by making it clear that Web 2.0 principles can help traditional companies like gold miners and manufacturers, and that it’s not just feel-good claptrap tossed around by twenty-somethings with fake dreadlocks and Hello Kitty T-shirts.

Will is right that Don, while not actually part of the Web 2.0 movement, makes a good “translator and diplomat” when it comes to explaining the benefits of Web interactivity to a skeptical, non-Webby crowd. If there’s one thing Don is good at, it is taking an emerging field or trend and giving an overview of why it’s important – pulling strands together, explaining them and packaging them in a way that is easily understandable for a novice. That is a valuable skill.

And Don is trying to walk the walk as well, with a wiki aimed at writing the last chapter of the book interactively, and a fledgling Wikinomics community powered by local social-networking platform PikSpot, which I am quietly (or not so quietly) proud to have known about before David.

Just one thing, Don: I couldn’t help but notice in your speech that you credited your daughter with introducing you to the wonderful social network known as “the Facebook” – better be careful, or you will be lumped in with George Bush, who recently referred to how much he liked using “the Google” :)

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Mathew Ingram is a
technology writer and blogger for the Globe and Mail, a national
newspaper based in Toronto, and also writes about the Web and media at
www.mathewingram.com/work and www.mathewingram.com/media.

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