Don Tapscott Talks Wikinomics at the U of A

Post ImageEarly this morning I attended a lecture sponsored by the U of A’s School of Business featuring Don Tapscott, author of the new book Wikinomics. It’s a good thing I didn’t buy the book a couple weeks ago like I was going to, because everyone got a complimentary copy at the event (and I got him to sign mine).

I had no idea, but apparently the event was something of a homecoming for Don! He got his M.Ed. in Research Methodology from the University of Alberta, as well as one of his two honorary Doctor of Laws. He joked that he was happy to enjoy the Alberta spring weather with us! From a distance, Don looks a little something like Red from That 70’s Show, but I can assure you, he’s a much more engaging speaker than Mr. Forman.

He started by congratulating us for being named Time’s person of the year, and said that in his opinion, it is the corporation (as opposed to an individual) that is undergoing the biggest change. Much of his talk focused around what he called the “four drivers” of mass collaboration:

  1. Web 2.0
  2. The Net Generation
  3. The Social Revolution
  4. The Economic Revolution

The one that caught my attention the most was the second one – no surprise I suppose, as I am a member of the net generation (he said anyone under 29). The comments he made really resonated with me (such as that we view email as a more formal way to communicate). He is currently working on a research project to demonstrate that members of this generation are wired differently…we think differently than our parents. Perhaps the most profound aspect of the net generation is that we view work, entertainment, and everything else as the same thing. No longer is there a clear distinction between work and fun…they need to become (and are becoming) one.

Don also explained that the net generation is incredible at detecting BS, and that we actually do care about things. He said a common remark from older people is that members of the net generation don’t care about the news, all they watch is The Daily Show. Don’s reply was brilliant: “The Daily Show isn’t funny unless you know the news!” Truer words have never been spoken.

The talk finished with a brief question period and a few final thoughts from Don. He said an important takeaway is that leadership can come from anywhere. It doesn’t have to come from the top, which I thought was a good point.

I look forward to reading the book now!