Here’s a question. When your way of working is fundamentally disrupted. How do you react?
Sooner or later you have to steal the disruptors clothes. Kodak goes digital. Yellow pages think of introducing pay per click rather than paid listings. Microsoft creates a web based set of its office apps. And Britannica opens itself to wiki-like collaboration – as outlined in this post from their President Jorge Cauz Collaboration and the Voices of Experts.
[With a full announcement and spec here: Britannica New Site: More collaboration, participation from users].
So – yes, this was announced in June, but I’m backfilling here as I started this blog in August. But Britannica is pretty much the consumate disrupted case history – first with Encarta, next with Wikipedia. I’m fascinated with the change that has had to happen within that organisation over the last decade, and that will no doubt continue for the next.
Over time, their story has become stronger – this interview on techdirt with president Jorge Cauz is interesting – not so much because of what he says, but because he’s engaging with the likes of Techdirt full stop. The starting point for so much transformation is to
Initiatives such as Britannica’s latest activities always attract the criticism of being ‘too little too late’. But what was the alternative: launching a clone of Wikipedia the second it became popular (probably too much too soon). Perhaps they should have done nothing at all (definitely too much too late).
I suspect the real danger is that they might be trying too much too late – in other words, a very radical transformation when everyone is watching closely. But let’s see how it pans out.
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