I thought I would draw your attention to this Wal-Mart innovation. I tend to watch Wal-Mart not only because it is the world biggest private employer, but because its client-driven innovation apporach is so important, that it can even be seen in the US macro data (check conference board van Ark papers on the sources of US productivity growth, you may find them on my blog resources).

This time around Wal-Mart encouraged its merchandise buyers to blog freely (no editing by management) about goods they buy to be sold in Wal-Mart stores. See NYT article.

I do believe that knowledge sharing does create a new value. Not only customers can find out what is assessed as good value for money, but also suppliers anticipating that blog will expose them to fair judgment may strive for quality. I think that it is not for every company. If some Peanut Electronics Store did the same, and wrote something unpleasant about Vista, it would be boxing above their weight for sure. But if large suppliers develop this culture of transparency (fair opinion is welcome from big guys as well as from small guys) it could work in favor of consumer as well as producer.

Collective wisdom is very powerful. I think that Wal-Mart blog may act also as innovation platform, when people start commenting on products and these comments/suggestions are later used by producers/suppliers to make better products.  Feedback is king.