Twice in the past week I’ve come across descriptions of how online communities are impacting the business world, or, is it how the business world is leveraging online communities.

First there was this interview on the BBC Worldservice of one of the authors of "Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything", in which, among other ideas, I first heard "prosumer" defined. Prosumer was coined to refer to how some businesses now conceive of the masses as both producers and consumers. That is, expanding their conception of human resources to include the world of online collaborators.

Next was this description in the New York Times Arts section of a BP-EA collaboration. Yes, that’s energy giant British Petroleum teaming up with video game leader Electronic Arts on introducing some 21st century engergy production realities into SimCity. Sims players will have to consider financial, environmental and public opinion costs of their cities’ energy production strategies. EA gets some expert consultation on the realities of the energy sector and BP gets their real-world logo on virtual wind and solar generation facilities, but what do the rest of us get? An experiment in the affect of online behavior changing real world public opinion and economic behaviors.

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