Philippa Thomas Online

Occasional thoughts about life, books and news.


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The End of Big – a wake-up call #EOB

“Here Comes Everybody” wrote Clay Shirky, tech evangelist, five years ago. He’s a cheerleader for the radical empowerment offered by the internet  – new voices, direct access, more ideas, a swirl of intellectual and political ferment. 

Here comes another book on the impact of the internet which takes the next step.  Nicco Mele’s “The End of Big” pithily summarises the impact of what he terms “radical connectivity – our breathtaking ability to send vast amounts of data instantly, constantly and globally.”

But from the preview extracts I’ve read, it poses sobering questions about what happens next, when Big Institutions get undercut. You know the drill. Free blogs undercut paid news. Online protest, old-fashioned politics. Music sharing, record labels.  You Tube uploads, the film studios. 3D printing, traditional supply chains. And so on.  As Nicco Mele puts it, “radical connectivity is toxic to conventional power structures”.

But if and when the big guys have gone…  Mele asks us to look harder at what we will lose.  “We can’t fetishize technology and say ‘to hell with our institutions’ without suffering terrible consequences.”  Continue reading


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Academics “embrace” Wikipedia – shock!

Interesting piece on the BBC website today about students at Imperial College London trying to “bridge” the worlds of academia and Wikipedia. They seem very sensibly to be saying – Wikipedia isn’t going away – Wikipedia is just about the world’s most used research resource – why not bring academic brains to the task of improving rather than scorning the open source encyclopaedia? Continue reading


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“The Wikipedia Revolution”. Will it survive?

THE WIKIPEDIA REVOLUTION: a book review
Andrew Lih’s take on “How a bunch of nobodies created the World’s Greatest Encyclopedia”.

To those who ask whether a grassroots open source online community can deliver a significant and sophisticated product,  Wikipedia delivers a resounding “Yes!” But then comes the caveat, “to an extent”. And then the question, “can it last?”
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Is this the end of the world as we know it?

My take on “GOOGLED: the end of the world as we know it” (2009) by Ken Auletta.

Media analyst Ken Auletta (http://www.kenauletta.com/) talks about the way Google has “swept swiftly across the media horizon”. And where Google has gone,  Auletta has followed, telling the story of the shaping of Google and how it has fundamentally reshaped our world. Newspapers and advertising, radio and television,  magazines and books: each of these industries have been hit – and been hurt – by the Google “search” revolution.

So what is that revolution?  One of the best quotes in the book comes from Google co-founder Larry Page. In 2002, he told a class in Stanford, “if we solve search, that means you can answer any question. Which means you can basically do anything.”

Auletta gives us a breathless biography of the rise and rise of Google.
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