Wiki budgets, bureaucrats, and a lost opportunity for engagement

Category: NGOs & Government
Published on Jan 28, 2008

President Bush recently called for the US administration to dramatically curtail earmarks (essentially pet spending projects that members of Congress insert into the federal budget), saying he will veto any appropriations bills that don’t cut the number of earmarks in half when they come to him during the remainder of his days in the White House. The Washington Posts reports that the budget officials at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) knew at the […]


The “truth” about Isaac Newton

Category: Health, Science & Education
Published on Jan 21, 2008

I received an email this morning that gets the prize for reader comment of the week. In Wikinomics, we referenced Isaac Newton‘s “shoulders of Giants” quote to illustrate the idea that all knowledge and scientific discovery is cumulative . . . one great discovery builds on the foundation of previous discoveries, and so on. Well, Wikinomics reader Frank Smith notes that there is more to Isaac Newton’s “shoulders of Giants” quote than meets the eye. […]


A dissertation on mass collaboration

Category: Media & Technology
Published on Jan 15, 2008

It’s the first I’ve heard of a dissertation being written on mass collaboration, although I suspect there are many more out there. I have yet to read it in full, although I did note that our friend Howard Rheingold is one of the examiners. The author, Mark Elliot, points out that while Don and I were the first to write about mass collaboration, our book wouldn’t make it through a PhD examination process due to […]


Bringing petitions into the digital era

Category: NGOs & Government
Published on Jan 14, 2008

Written petitions have long been an important means by which citizens can bring their concerns to public officials. Petitioning was common in 18th and 19th century England and is thought to have played an important role in enabling working class movements to force significant social and political reforms, and eventually universal suffrage. The tradition was later enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, where the First Amendment guarantees the right of the people “to petition the Government […]


The global brain

Category: Business & Economics | Health, Science & Education
Published on Jan 12, 2008

One of the most intriguing books I’ve read of late is The Gift of Athena, by economic historian Joel Mokyr. Mokyr traces the rise of the industrial revolution and the important role of the Enlightenment and the scientific revolution in increasing access to knowledge in society at large. Here’s his thesis in a nutshell: The central phenomenon of the modern age is that as an aggregate we know more. New knowledge developed in the past […]


The big green challenge

Category: Environment & Sustainability
Published on Jan 10, 2008

It seems the timing of my earlier post was somewhat fortuitous as NESTA (the UK-based National Endowment for Science, Technology and Arts) has launched a £1 million contest to find the brightest ideas to fight climate change. The Big Green Challenge, as they call it, is intended to stimulate the search for “Eureka moments” for reducing carbon emissions. The top ten finalists will receive £20,000 to help put their idea into practice. The lion’s share […]


Climate change: the “killer application” for mass collaboration?

Category: Environment & Sustainability
Published on Jan 10, 2008

Don and I have been ruminating over the potential to develop the equivalent of the human genome project for climate change and would like your input on the issue. An optimist could argue that we’re in the early days of something unprecedented. Thanks to the web 2.0 the entire world is beginning to collaborate around a single idea for the first time ever: changing the weather. Climate change is quickly becoming a nonpartisan issue and […]