I landed in London last night. It's been a pretty harrowing few days. My wife left last Thursday for rural Illinois, I dropped our daughter off with friends and then took our one year old and caught up with Alysia in Kewanee, Illinois, hog capital of the world (That last is no idle boast, but a decree passed down by an act of Congress in 1942). We were there for her grandmother's funeral, a very sad affair. She was 91, had been ill for several months, had lived a long, rich life, enjoyed the love and devotion of a large family and many friends and none of that offers us a bit of comfort. We weren't ready for her to go. Perhaps when you really love someone, you never are, I don't know.
Unlike me to get personal on these pages, I know, but "Munca," aka Ann Binder, was a great old broad and a dear friend and possessed one of the most searching intelligences of anyone I'd ever met. Ah, but I mentioned reviews, didn't I? Good stuff came in over the weekend:
Newsweek gives the crowdsourcing book what I might call a qualified rave:
Crowdsourcing may represent a true revolution in how human communities form and interact, and an early indicator of where the Internet is leading society. And Howe's book does a better job than anything I've seen of convincing you of that fact.
The Financial Times also published its review this weekend. It's generally positive, but takes me to task for casting crowdsourcing in a pollyannish light. Here's the critic, James Harkin:
If James Surowiecki was the Karl Marx of the movement, favouring rule by the many, Howe is its Lenin. Howe is focused on how to turn theory into lucrative practice. More than Surowiecki, too, he believes the internet is capable of unleashing the wisdom of the crowd.
I think this misrepresents the book, and it certainly misrepresents my thinking. While I fill the book with case studies, many of them highlight ways in which crowdsourcing fails, and I explicitly caution against companies attempting to use crowdsourcing strictly as a financial strategy. More to the point, I reinforce Surowiecki's caution that without the right conditions collective intelligence fails to emerge, and in fact go into great detail about why this is so, using Scott E. Page's work as a guide. Luckily, I'll have the chance to bring such differences up with James personally, as he'll be hosting my book party tomorrow night.
And then finally there's this from the Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Chris Satullo. Not precisely a review, but it's a nice meditation on the themes in the book, with a few apt citations.