The Great Unbundling

In the world of publishing, unbundling the message from the medium allows for a greater degree of re-use of the message and even novel ways of creating the message. The physical format of books and the processes involved in creating such books is a limitation to creation, contribution and re-use. Once the message is in digital 0s and 1s the message is no longer confined to the physical medium and there are far fewer barriers to access.

A case in point:

Charles Wankel is gathering hundreds of co-authors from around the world to write his latest textbook — 926 of them in 90 countries, to be exact.

Mr. Wankel is an associate professor of management at St. John’s University, in New York. Each of his co-authors, most of whom are also management professors, will write or edit a small portion of the final text, which is slated to be published by Routledge. They’re organizing the vast effort using a wiki that lets participants see and edit each other’s contributions.

Mr. Wankel is essentially asking the expected audience for the book to be part of its production, since he hopes that management professors around the world will end up using the text in their courses. He found his co-authors by searching social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn for members who were management professors — and of course he invited colleagues he had met over the years. The practice has been called “crowdsourcing,” a term coined by a Wired magazine writer to describe outsourcing a project to a large group using collaborative Internet technologies. . . .


Picture uploaded by Paul Watson


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