Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Book time for Bonzo

Two of the nation’s most prestigious schools of business management have set out to test a theorem that could not have been investigated without the modern miracle we know as the World Wide Web.

The theorem, which was advanced by either Aristotle or Bob Newhart, hypothesized that an infinite number of monkeys sitting at an infinite number of typewriters eventually would write all the great books of the world.

In an effort to empirically test the theorem, the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania want you to contribute to the first business book ever to be written as a wiki by an infinite number of online volunteers.

A wiki, as you know, is a website where anyone can write anything, which then can be rewritten by a second writer, then reinstated by the first writer, then changed by a third writer, then reinstated by the first writer, then corrected by a fourth writer, then reinstated by the first writer, then vandalized by a fifth writer and so forth.

I know this, because I looked up wiki on Wikipedia, the site that also provides a wealth of scholarly background on the Infinite Monkey Theorem.

The premise of the new wiki-booki, which is entitled “We Are Smarter Than Me,” is that self-identified communities in the future “can, and should, take responsibility for traditional business functions that are currently performed by companies, industries and experts,” according to the website where would-be authors can begin cointributing their thoughts as soon as they sign away their rights to compensation from the published product.

The wiki-booki organziers say the types of business functions that might be taken over by communities include word-of-mouth advertising, peer-to-peer lending and self-help groups for diabetics or cancer patients. And, of course, writing books.