In a clever demonstration of the power of collaboration and online communities, Don Tapscott, author of The Digital Economy and Growing Up Digital, along with co-author Anthony Williams, decided to use a wiki to let multiple contributors help “write” a chapter for their new book Wikinomics.
The home page for the wiki, which runs on SocialText’s platform, suggests Wikinomics is "the first peer-produced guide to business in the twenty-first century," and notes "this experiment in mass collaboration runs on a wiki, the same collaborative software that powers Wikipedia. Just like Wikipedia, you have the power to add or edit entries, discuss your views, or simply read what others have written." (Although Wikipedia runs on MediaWiki)
SocialText CEO Ross Mayfield writes:
"This is a great example of how a book can be augmented with a wiki, as most books are out of date by the time they are published, never quite finished and have the potential for participation. Last month we helped Larry Lessig share the entire Code 2.0 book in a wiki. I expect that soon such commons-peer production, a wiki for every book, will be common."
Perhaps there will be a wiki for every book, but this begs the question, "who needs the book?" If the wiki is effective, might there be no need for traditional authors, at least for non-fiction works? Will we see the title "author" replaced by new media titles like "community steward" or "collaboration guide?"
And what happens if we put a thousand monkeys in a room with a wiki ... ?