Getting through Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams’ Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything was a long haul for me. It’s not that I don’t agree with their ideas, because I do… mostly. I found it very dry and not nearly as engaging as The World Is Flat or Everything Bad is Good for You. Maybe it was just a little too business-oriented and it took a little too much work to apply their ideas to schools. In some cases it was a fool’s errand to even try to make that connection. But I did mark three pages which I thought captured important ideas for the education community:
- “The culture of generosity is the very backbone of the internet” – I love this quote and will use it again and again. It comes about in the context of their discussion of open platforms like Amazon‘s e-commerce engine and flickr. It’s part of a very honest and frank exploration of people’s motives for taking the time and effort to put things “out there” – one of the few moments where the book seems more real and less Polyanna-ish. They ask some very hard questions about where people’s willingness to contribute really comes from and if it is sustainable in the long run.
- “‘The technologies that come along and change the world are the simple, unplanned ones that emerge from the grassroots rather than the ones that come out of the corner offices of the corporate strategists’.” – Boy, do I believe this sentiment expressed by Tim Bray of Sun Microsystems. Real evolutionary (and sometimes revolutionary) change always comes from the bottom. As I continue to look at technology adoption in schools, I become more and more convinced that top-down dictates just don’t work and it’s the creative use of simple technologies by those in the trenches that eventually spreads and hits critical mass. This will be the focus of my short talk at NECC Unplugged. The chapter in which this quote appeared, “Wiki Workspaces,” was my favorite.
- “Danny Hillis, who founded Thinking Machines and invented parallel computing, says there are two ways to build complex things: engineering and evolution.” – Perhaps just another way of saying bullet #2 above, but I like the contrast between the two. I think that what I’m coming to realize in looking at organizational change in schools is that you can’t engineer it; you can only create conditions conducive to evolution. You create learning communities where people can grow and the organization moves ahead as a result.
Time to read a novel – something enjoyable that will drag me in and keep me reading…