British author and TEDGLOBAL speaker Charles Leadbeater has just released a first draft of his upcoming book for anyone to read and comment on. It’s called "We Think: Why mass creativity is the next big thing". I’m generally skeptical of "next big thing-isms", but Charles is an insightful analyst of the socioeconomic evolution. He has coined the concept of "Pro-Am" to describe those pursuing activities as amateurs (often unpaid) but setting the same standards as professionals, and has been very influential in shaping our understanding of the developments of the last decade.
With "We Think" he tries to go beyond that and describe how the increasing involvement of "large groups of committed and knowledgeable amateurs, working without pay, are creating highly collaborative forms of organization which operate with little hierarchy and bureaucracy and yet mobilize resources of a scale to match the biggest corporations in the world" and analyze what that means for the future of society and businesses. "Thank to low-cost technology, many more consumers can become producers at least some of the time (…) The next big thing will be us, our power to share and develop ideas without having to rely on formal organizations".
In a nutshell, the book is about the impending conflict between what Charles calls "collaborative mass innovation" and the hierarchical, formal, rigid organizations (corporate and others).
Charles is asking for comments, remarks and suggestions, so that "we think" won’t only be the title of the book, but also the method by which it was written. The finalized version is scheduled for publication mid next year. The draft is printable in full, and after reading today the first two chapters I definitely recommend it. Will blog more about it when I’m done reading.