Wikinomics

I attended, along with David, Will, Tom, Eli and another Mark (Raheja) , Don Tapscott’s Wikinomics book launch at Rotman. Wikinomics is co-written with New Paradigm colleague Anthony D. Williams. Anthony is clearly much more than a research assistant. He is an accomplished writer, PhD candidate at LSE, and the accompanying Wikinomics wiki chapter and blog have his fingerprints all over them.

Will and David commented on the interesting collision between the mass collaboration theme of the book and the (mostly) invite-only crowd. My former head honcho from State Street (now Thomson Financial) David Toyne was there, as was former Premier and federal Liberal leadership candidate Bob Rae:
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Bob Rae Loves Wikis” by Will Pate

I am looking forward to participating in the emerging community around this important new book. It links closely to my thoughts around the role of open innovation networks in regional economic development, a theme I will be pursuing this year with some great thinkers. Watch this space.

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Richard Florida: The New Megalopolis

Growth and innovation come from new urban corridors. China isn’t the world’s most ferocious new economic competitor—the exploding east-coast corridor, from Beijing to Shanghai, is. India as a whole is not developing high-tech industries and attracting jobs, but the booming mega-region stretching from Bangalore to Hyderabad is.

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GTA Transport Strategy: A Demand for Meta-Innovation

A new report from Richard Soberman, Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering at University of Toronto, points to the coming crisis in Toronto’s regional transit system:

Think traffic is bad now? Just wait till 2031, a new report warns, when morning rush hours will see 100,000 extra cars jam Toronto’s roads and 50,000 new riders crowd onto its public transit system as the region’s population swells to eight million.

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Climate Change: New Model Points to Massive Adjustment

From OpenDemocracy:

Climate change is moving up the global political agenda. Two current developments are helping to build the issue’s momentum: the Stern report on the economics of climate change (published on 30 October 2006), and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference in Nairobi (6-17 November 2006). A third, the mid-term election results in the United States, may also prove significant in creating space for fresh thinking and policy initiatives in the world’s largest producer of greenhouse-gas emissions.

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The article goes on to shed some light on the true nature of the challenge. It points to recent modeling by the Institute for Public Policy Research that attempts to model carbon emissions pathways for the future necessary to keep warming below 2°C. Understanding the possible paths available provides a better comprehension of the stakes.

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The costs of climate change

Storm Clouds1One of the most interesting avenues for economics research today is in the area of environmental economics. From Mancur’s classicThe Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups” to today, we are still struggling with the economics of collective action and the tragedy of the commons. Our political paralysis over climate change and other environmental issues illustrates the need for new economic theory, policy mechanisms and political practice.
So I read with great interest the news of a report from the UK that attempts to take the climate change debate from the world of climate science to that of economics. The “Stern Report” was written by a former World Bank chief economist, Sir Nicholas Stern.

“Our actions over the coming few decades could create risks of major disruption to economic and social activity later in this century and in the next, on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century,” Sir Nicholas writes.

The report suggests that 1 per cent of global domestic product be spent immediately on dealing with climate change, to avoid higher costs later. Failure to act would lead to a drop of 5 to 20 per cent of global GDP and make large swaths of the Earth’s surface uninhabitable.

Tony Blair is positioning the UK as a global leader in the efforts to deal with climate change, and has signed on Al Gore as a special advisor to the government.

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Future-Proofing Our Communities

I don’t want to be all doom and gloom, but I do want to highlight a couple of important economic indicators for the future.

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Talk of a real estate bubble, it’s bursting and the potential economic fallout will be front and centre for the next while. The real estate bubble, the US current account and trade deficits, consumer debt and consumer spending patterns and high energy prices are all conspiring to put the North American (and global) economy into a high-risk situation. Brush up on your Tipping Point.

Meanwhile, the auto industry is in dire straights for the foreseeable future. When Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of DaimlerChrysler states that it is impossible to profitably make subcompacts in North America, watch out for continued recalibration of the trade economics of advanced manufacturing up the food chain. This is just the beginning of a larger trend, not a short-term blip.

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