John West-Burnham

Educational Leadership Development

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Tapscott and Williams identify four principles of Wikinomics:

Being open: this involves ´candor, transparency, freedom, flexibility, expansiveness, engagement and access´ (ibid p21). In essence this is about collaboration and sharing; maximizing the transfer of ideas and innovation.

Peering: Wikinomics is non-hierarchical; it invites involvement and collaboration and is based on self-organization rather than hierarchical control models. Peering encourages participations from any source.

Sharing: in essence involves the end of copyright and patents allowing for shared improvement and the development of ideas, projects and strategies.

Acting globally: means moving beyond the parochial and interacting with a far larger community than ever before. The economic growth of India and China, the collapse of communism and the Human Genome Project are all the result of global interaction.

This might all seem very Utopian but Tapscott and Williams start with the story of a gold mining company in economic difficulties that broke the fundamental taboo of the industry by publishing all its geological data on the internet and asking for advice on where to mine for gold – and offering a reward. The turnover of the company increased from $100 million to $9 billion – almost entirely because of openness, collaboration and trust.

Another unexpected source of ideas about trust can be found in the world of traffic engineering and in particular in the work of Hans Monderman (who died in 2008). He pioneered the application of the concept of shared space which involves the removal of the traditional separation between motor vehicles and pedestrians and other road users, and the removal of traditional road priority management devices such as kerbs, lines, signs and signals.

The reasoning behind the idea is that it will result in improved road safety by forcing users to negotiate their way through shared areas at appropriate speeds and with due consideration for the other users of the space. The removal of road signs etc ´humanises´ the road as a space increasing mutual awareness and interdependence. When all the road signs were removed form Kensington High Street in London there was a 60 per cent fall in deaths and serious injuries.

There is a traffic sign at the entrance to Makkinga which reads ‘Verkeersbordvrij’ meaning ‘free of traffic signs’. The town has no road markings and no stop signs or direction signs visible in the streets. Parking meters and stopping restrictions are also absent. Casualty figures at one junction where traffic lights were removed have dropped from thirty-six in the four years prior to the introduction of the scheme to two in the two years following it. Only three of the original fifteen sets of traffic lights remain. Tailbacks (traffic jams) are now almost unheard of at the town's main junction, which handles about 22,000 cars a day.

Woonerf in the Netherlands is a street or group of streets in a town or where pedestrians and cyclists have legal priority over cars. As of 1999, the Netherlands had over 6000 Woonerven schemes in place., motorised traffic entering a woonerf or ‘recreation area’ is restricted to a speed limit of ‘walking pace’ In Germany, similar zones are termed Verkehrsberuhigter Bereich where motorists are restricted to a maximum speed of 7 km/h, pedestrians, including children, may use the entire street and children are permitted to play in the street.

 

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