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Thursday, March 1, 2007

Web 2.0 And The Content Management Problem

"Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform. Chief among those rules is this: Build applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them. (This is what I've elsewhere called "harnessing collective intelligence.)"

- O'Reilly Radar

There are many definitions (opinions) about what Web 2.0 really is about, ranging from simply a set of new technologies such as AJAX, to a IT-driven business revolution. To me, Web 2.0 is all about the ability to make more interactive and easy to use web applications, which is made easier by new technologies such as AJAX. Traditional desktop applications can now be developed for the Internet platform with almost as rich interactivity as their desktop collegues. And, traditional web applications can now be made more interactive and easy to use than ever before. Inbetween, some new applications made possible by the marriage of the Internet platform and new emerging technologies will see the dawn of day.

The charachteristics of the Internet platform makes it natural that more interactive applications are being used to facilitate communication, sharing of content and collaboration between users. Social software applications enable us to connect, meet and collaborate with eachother. No wonder why they are so popular.

For an enterprise, Web 2.0 technologies and applications such as wikis and blogs (sometimes referred to as Enterprise 2.0) can help to reduce the communication and collaboration problems within an enterprise, aswell as encouraging creativity and innovation. Web 2.0 applications such as wikis and blogs encourage freeform and open communication and thereby facilitate information and knowledge exchange. But, they will also lead to an organic growth of content with an – more or less - ad hoc organization. For some (probably most) of the content produced within an enterprise, this might be acceptable, if not desirable. But for other, more business critical content, it just absolutely isn’t.

Necessarily, enterprise blogs and wikis also need to be managed - with a unified approach - if the content management problems are not to escalate for an enterprise. If they are not being consolidated or integrated so they all can be managed "under one roof", enterprises will end up with lots of "content islands", isolated from each other, creating new content silos within the enterprise. Although access to the content sources might be unified via a common search engine, the management of them is not unified. The life cycle of a blog or wiki needs to be managed, from creation to phase-out, just aswell as other content sources in an organization.

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