Extract - Grown-Up Digital: Net Geners in collaboration

Excerpt from Grown Up Digital by Don Tapscott: Many Net Geners are happy to help with product design.

Excerpt from Grown Up Digital by Don Tapscott

Many Net Geners are happy to help with product design. They believe they offer useful insights and like to feel part of a knowledgeable and exclusive group. They are willing to test product prototypes and answer survey questions. Half of Net Geners are willing to tell companies the details of their lives if the result is a product that better fits their needs. This number rises to 61 percent of Early Adopters and 74 percent of the Bleeding Edge. However, they hesitate to share the data if they feel a company might misuse the information, sell it to other companies, or inundate them with junk mail and spam.

In the Web 2.0, new communities are being formed in social networks such as Facebook and MySpace, and these communities are starting to go into production. People are making things together. So prosumption was an idea waiting to happen, waiting for a generation who had a natural instinct to collaborate and co-innovate.

Collaboration extends to other aspects of the Net Geners' lives. At work, they want to feel that their opinion counts. While they acknowledge their lack of experience, they feel they have relevant insights - especially about technology and the Internet - and they want the opportunity to influence decisions and change work processes to make them more efficient. Making this happen requires a receptive corporate culture and the work tools, such as blogs and wikis, that encourage collaboration.

The new collaboration is not traditional teamwork at all. The difference today is that individual efforts can be harnessed on a large scale to achieve collective outcomes, like Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia written by 75,000 active volunteers and continually edited by hundreds of thousands of readers around the world who perform millions of edits per month. That would have been impossible to achieve without a new generation of collaboration tools.

These tools make collaboration on an international scale so easy, as my daughter Niki found last year while working for an international consulting company. She'd cook up an idea for a widget that might be useful for a client, and at the end of the day she'd send a message to a team of four computer developers in the Czech Republic. The next morning, there it was: a new widget ready for her to check out. "There's an old saying that two heads are better than one," she says. "Well, I say that 10,000 heads are better than 2. There are lots of smart people out there, and we should be using new technologies to tap into their talents."

Net Geners are collaborators in every part of their lives. As civic activists, they're tapping into the collaborative characteristic with aplomb. The Net Gen wants to help. They'll help companies make better products and services. They're volunteering in record numbers, in part because the Internet offers so many ways, big and small, to help out. Educators should take note. The current model of pedagogy is teacher focused, one-way, one size fits all. It isolates the student in the learning process. Many Net Geners learn more by collaborating - both with their teacher and with each other. They'll respond to the new model of education that's beginning to surface.

First extract from Grown up Digital >>

Don Tapscott interview >>

Grown Up Digital >>

Reprinted by permission of McGraw-Hill. Excerpt from Grown Up Digital. Copyright 2009 Don Tapscott. All rights reserved.

Read more on IT strategy