Envisioning and shaping the future of work and business.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

This week in links - week 21, 2009

I'm taking a few days off (from both work and blogging), so here is my set of links for this week:

No one (okay, almost no one) expects that buying a word processor can turn him into a great writer. Yet somehow it’s almost widely assumed that deploying tools labeled E2.0 would turn an organization into an E2.0 business. Which couldn’t be further from the truth. Despite all the buzz, E2.0 is first of all a set of principles, not software bits. It is more about business practices and human behaviors than about features. Software with strong social computing capabilities makes it much easier to establish and maintain these practices, but it doesn’t create them on its own, nor does it sustain them.

Social technologies have enormous potential, but to make E2.0 more than a hotly debated buzzword, many players in the space have to shift focus from cool capabilities to critical business functions...//...All businesses have to deal with things like customer support, supply chain management, R&D and product distribution. Who makes all these things happen? People. Now, what E2.0 is all about? In essence, it’s about people connections, just like any of its 2.0 siblings. And with the right focus, any business function can benefit from better connections.
By putting minimal central control in place an enterprise can gain significant benefit from this simple technology, including improved knowledge capture, reduced time to build complex knowledge-based web sites, and increased collaboration. Although enterprise Wiki use requires a greater degree of centralized control than public Wikis, this need not impinge on the freedom to contribute that is the hallmark of a Wiki approach. The balance of power is different in an enterprise context, but fear of anarchy should not prohibit Wiki adoption.

Nevertheless, I predict that Wikis will disappear over the next 5 to 10 years. This is not because they will fail but precisely because they will succeed. The best technologies disappear from view because they become so common-place that nobody notices them. Wiki-style functionality will become embedded within other software – within portals, web design tools, word processors, and content management systems. Our children may not learn the word “Wiki,” but they will be surprised when we tell them that there was a time when you couldn’t just edit a web page to build the content collaboratively.
If you missed it, Lee wrote a great response to what (to be frank) was a pretty dumb post from Steve Gillmor about the death of RSS (again). I think the majority of people interested in this stuff understand that RSS is an essential part of the plumbing, but I think what Gillmor really missed was that just because he uses it one way that doesn't mean that's how everyone else wants to use it (a point central to Lee's argument) or will in fact end up using it as these social techologies continue to evolve and become more broadly adopted. The wonderful thing about RSS of course is that it doesn't matter how people access it - we have a common'ish enough protocol in RSS (and other standards) to help us join data, information and all these wonderful social tools together. Choice is great isn't it?


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