Up is down and black is white as Wikinomics changes the business world

The new age of digital social networking and Web-based communities needs new rules

Wikinomics challenges business to think differently about their intellectual property, too. Old views suggest companies need to guard their ideas, but in the new emerging economy such thinking may in fact discourage more and better opportunities. Sharing may have much more value than selling. Companies need to open their minds to that potential, Mr. Tapscott contends.

He was asked whether he might consider sharing his own intellectual property. Would Mr. Tapscott, for example, object to the posting his book on the Web and freely giving away his intellectual capital in order to promote and grow the Wikinomics concepts, and position himself as an expert?

"I think it's a fair enough question," he says. "First of all, if I could give away my book I would. I have a publisher and I need to have a publisher to print, distribute and promote (the book). We did talk them into letting us release the first three chapters and you can get a PDF of those free on the Web. The publisher also agreed to (let) the last chapter be a wiki that we don't even own."

The bottom line is you need to have a well thought out strategy in the world of Wikinomics, Mr. Tapscott says. You don't just give away your intellectual property and you don't do all of your business innovation in the public domain. Rather you consider the greater value.

The author expects to do approximately 80 speeches this year and at one time would have vehemently objected to having his presentations videotaped, seeking instead to strictly control any recording and distribution. He certainly would have charged for it.

"Now I'd let people video me all the time," he says. "You can go on the Web and there are all kinds of videos of me giving talks."

It's an issue of strategy rather than ethics - it's good promotion and in the long run it helps.

And it's completely contrary to what his business instincts might have told him not so long ago.

Don Tapscott will be giving the Keynote Address at the IT360 Conference and Expo on May 1 in Toronto.

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Dan McLean

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