Wikinomics and Mission

I said a few words at church yesterday about transparency and generosity and made a reference to a book called Wikinomics as well as the Bible.

Images-1-5It was an open mike session rather than a single preacher and I followed James Stockan, Councillor and Vice Convenor of Orkney. Which was a tough act to follow because James was recently invited by Lord Chamberlain to an afternoon event in Edinburgh with the Queen, which all happened a few days ago. James was informed on how to dress (what the heck is a morning suit?) and his wife was required to wear a hat. All very interesting and intimidating. Glad the open mike wasn’t a competition.

As for me, I didn’t meet any royalty, and I can hardly tell a morning suit from a wet suit, but in my travels over the past 2 weeks I have talked to mission leaders in Norway, Netherlands, England and Scotland about the relentless change going on in their worlds. I have been in missions and social enterprise for more than two decades and I really cant remember a time when things were changing so quickly and so radically. There is a dramatic reshuffling of priorities, a flattening of hierarchies, a giving away of the farm, and a greater openness to collaboration with each other.

A lot of this change in priorities and thinking is reflected in and/or stimulated by the change of media from print-based to web-based aggregation, retrieval and distribution of new media . Best book on this, I think, is Lev Manovich’s The Language of New Media, and also Barabasi’s Linked: How Everything is Connected to Everything Else, but some newer books offer a better analysis and fresher examples of the thinking behind blogging, Wikis and how that thinking is changing business and organisations . . . including missions and social enterprises.

Images-8I am currently recommending Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams. The book shows how some of the world’s leading companies like Google and websites like Wikipedia are employing a new kind of strategy that involves generosity, transparency, online collectivism, sharing of resources through trust-based collaboration, co-creation and peering that leverages self-organization, emergent behavior, crowd-wisdom and results in organizations with “porous boundaries” and functional modularity. Thats a lot of tags and buzzwords, I know, and a lot of this is not new. I was talking about modularity in church back in 2004 and have been using similar terms (and descriptions like “lego”) even longer. But they all come together quite nicely in this book.

A great example of transparency from Wikinomics is Rob McEwan, CEO of the gold mining firm GoldCorp Inc., who said he was going to “take all our data, put it in a file and share it with the world” and “then ask the world where to find the next six million ounces of gold”. The experiment was risky but paid off by shaving 3 years of exploration time and the discovery of new gold that moved them from being a $100 million company into a $9 billion dollar company.

Anyway, James was talking before me (at the church) about losing your life in order to gain it, and I was reminded of other passages in the Scriptures that call for transparency, generosity and trust rather than secrecy, hoarding and self-interest.

a 70k animated gif on proverbs 11:24 . . . . . . wait for it

The community that Jesus raised was one of outrageous generosity and, unlike the gnostic teachers of the time, did not make money from revealing mystical secrets. The secret of the Kingdom had been revealed in Christ and the messengers of the gospel were to publish this good news to the world without holding back.

Freely1-2

For me, blogging is a way of sharing my thoughts freely, without finding an immediate connection with how I might be paid or get better off. If a good name is better than riches, then reputation trumps renumeration. I have always been inspired by musician Keith Green who gave away his records to me and thousands of others without knowing how it would come back to him, or if what he cast on the waters would ever come back. But it always does.

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I finished off my little talk with the farewell speech of Paul to the Ephesians in which he “did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable” (Acts 20) but I think everyone was too overwhelmed with the story of James and the Queen to listen very intently.

Fair enough.

Did anyone else read Wikinomics?

Related: A New Kind of Hierarchy, Reclusing Ourselves to Death, Emergant: New Media Fluency, The Spirituality of Torrent

Also, this blog post was featured on the Wikinomics blog

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Andrew

Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name “Precious” :-)

18 Comments

  • Hi TSK – I’ve read Wikinomics and found it helpful as well. Another book in the same vein I recommend is Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff (Harvard Business Press 2008). Similar to Wikinomics, but written even more for leaders of organizations, telling them to “fear not” when it comes to social media.

  • Hi, Andrew…I haven’t read it, but I’m still resonating from the variety of chapters found in the Wikiklesia book we participated in. There was too much to absorb when I was working on it, and so I find there is much to return to and ponder.
    And just the other day I was processing the thoughts that we need to share freely and not hoard — for what do we have that we have not been given, eh?
    Great post, bro.

  • we look forward to reading it.
    thanks to freecycle.org this week we managed to give away some kitchen drawers and were given a collection of cars from two boys who were having a clearout, a backpack for carrying one of our girls in and a collection of four years of national geographics … and no money changed hands.
    fear makes us cling onto our belongings/gifts etc but it is amazing how community grows out of generously sharing … there was a really good slot on bbc yesterday morning about a guy who lives a cash-free life by exchanging work/skills for land, food etc. it is a really exciting concept … are we brave enough to live it?

  • Andrew,
    Thanks for mentioning Keith Green and his free stuff; it’s still powerful after all these years.
    I was interested in what you said re.”transparency”. Yes, I’m finding the same thing in a 2006 book my son gave to me,”Naked Conversations:how blogs are changing the way businesses talk with customers”.
    I’ve read enough, as a missiologist, to say there is something very significant happening in the blogosphere and if Fortune 500 companies are now taking it seriously, maybe the Church ougth to at least look into what’s going on, especially as it seems to be a world-wide wind that is a’blowin.
    I’m new at blogging myself and learned right away that you have to be really who you say you are- for me that was an amazing gift from the Father- to have a place where I could share the passion of my life. The other side of it is the respect and dignity with which you must be prepared to treat your fellow bloggers no matter who they are are what they have done.
    Yes, I really think this whole thing is of the Lord of the Harvest for just our time.
    Love your blog.
    John Paul Todd
    e4unity.wordpress.com

  • thanks. glad you like the post.
    interesting thing on freecycle for us yesterday. my daughter was looking at a new bike on the internet and we told her we couldnt afford a new one but we should look for an old one or find some parts and make one.
    later that day we put our old roof box and roof bars on freecycle to give away and the person that wants the roof box has a kids bike to give away. pretty cool, ay?

  • Hey, Andrew, I’ve been reading your blog for a while but never commented and I thought it was time for me to say hello πŸ™‚
    I really enjoyed this post – it was very applicable for me right now as one thing that God has been challenging me with lately is the idea of being open handed – willing to open my hands to him and to others around me – willing to give of myself (and all that I pretend is mine) openly and generously with transparency – and willing to receive from God and others openly and humbly.
    So, thank you for being open and sharing yourself and your thoughts on your blog – God often uses you to stretch me.
    I have also read Wikinomics – well, sort of… I actually started it a little while ago and really enjoyed it but then put it down to read some other books that came my way – guess it’s time to pick Wikinomics back up and finish it πŸ™‚
    Rejoicing in the journey –
    Beth

  • YEAH.
    and also, if anyone likes the bible animated GIFs that i made on this page, or others that appear on my blog, they are very welcome to take them and use them without asking.

  • I was always amazed at Keith Green and his giveaways. I always thought that Christians wouldn’t take something for nothing so he would have done Ok-but it wasn’t always the case.
    The world believes there is no such thing as a free lunch: it’s up to the Church to show that there is! You quote well-‘freely you have received freely give’. Keep pressing on bro.Great post

  • thats a great verse. i made that “Freely” graphic as a response to Bill Gates and his communist accusation. when bloggers said they were Creative Commonists, i ordered the t-shirt and put the copyleft jesus quote up.
    read about it here

  • Andrew:
    Loved Wikinomics. Changed my thinking on so many, many things.
    I also recommend Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations (by Clay Shirky).
    Great stuff…a whole different way to view the world, technology, community, etc.
    rhett

  • Hi Andrew
    I enjoyed Wikinomics and it got me thinking about what a WikiChurch might look like. What would it mean to have a Church which anyone could ‘edit’?
    In a similar vein, I enjoyed ‘The Wisdom of the Crowds’ by James Surowieki

  • My encounter with Jesus when i was 12……. was very much Keith Green inspired – “Make my life a prayer to you” – pretty much was my turning point……. Still have NO COMPROMISE on my book shelf and read it every few years or so….. GOLD never changes eh???
    Still got the goods and still giving them away.
    Love ya dude…. we’re getting settled in our house – tons of boxes… and exhausted – but bit by bit… (still need a job- so fire up a few in the heavenlies)
    blessings,
    xo cat

  • Andrew I read it a year ago – awesome book – read it in conjunction with the Medicci Effect-?, Hidden Connections – Capra, and Consilience by that great Harvard athiest Edwin O. Wilson – then take those principles and apply them to missiology – it’s incredibly eye opening. BTW Fareed Zacharia’s new book The Post-American World is awesome.

  • Fantastic commentary AND interesting graphics to drive your point home. I’m definitely adding Wikinomics to my reading list. I loved the intelligent way you linked everything together in a blog discussing how everything is becoming linked together. Write On!

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