Archive for the ‘What is Web 2.0’ Category

Time Magazine Person of the Year: You

December 17, 2006

I just found this article which is the cover story for the coming edition of Time Magazine…

You

Link to article

Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2006

Person of the Year: You
Yes, you. You control the Information Age. Welcome to your world.

By LEV GROSSMAN

The “Great Man” theory of history is usually attributed to the Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle, who wrote that “the history of the world is but the biography of great men.” He believed that it is the few, the powerful and the famous who shape our collective destiny as a species. That theory took a serious beating this year.

To be sure, there are individuals we could blame for the many painful and disturbing things that happened in 2006. The conflict in Iraq only got bloodier and more entrenched. A vicious skirmish erupted between Israel and Lebanon. A war dragged on in Sudan. A tin-pot dictator in North Korea got the Bomb, and the President of Iran wants to go nuclear too. Meanwhile nobody fixed global warming, and Sony didn’t make enough PlayStation3s.

But look at 2006 through a different lens and you’ll see another story, one that isn’t about conflict or great men. It’s a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It’s about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people’s network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It’s about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.

The tool that makes this possible is the World Wide Web. Not the Web that Tim Berners-Lee hacked together (15 years ago, according to Wikipedia) as a way for scientists to share research. It’s not even the overhyped dotcom Web of the late 1990s. The new Web is a very different thing. It’s a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter. Silicon Valley consultants call it Web 2.0, as if it were a new version of some old software. But it’s really a revolution.

And we are so ready for it. We’re ready to balance our diet of predigested news with raw feeds from Baghdad and Boston and Beijing. You can learn more about how Americans live just by looking at the backgrounds of YouTube videos—those rumpled bedrooms and toy-strewn basement rec rooms—than you could from 1,000 hours of network television.

And we didn’t just watch, we also worked. Like crazy. We made Facebook profiles and Second Life avatars and reviewed books at Amazon and recorded podcasts. We blogged about our candidates losing and wrote songs about getting dumped. We camcordered bombing runs and built open-source software.

America loves its solitary geniuses—its Einsteins, its Edisons, its Jobses—but those lonely dreamers may have to learn to play with others. Car companies are running open design contests. Reuters is carrying blog postings alongside its regular news feed. Microsoft is working overtime to fend off user-created Linux. We’re looking at an explosion of productivity and innovation, and it’s just getting started, as millions of minds that would otherwise have drowned in obscurity get backhauled into the global intellectual economy.

Who are these people? Seriously, who actually sits down after a long day at work and says, I’m not going to watch Lost tonight. I’m going to turn on my computer and make a movie starring my pet iguana? I’m going to mash up 50 Cent’s vocals with Queen’s instrumentals? I’m going to blog about my state of mind or the state of the nation or the steak-frites at the new bistro down the street? Who has that time and that energy and that passion?

The answer is, you do. And for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME’s Person of the Year for 2006 is you.

Sure, it’s a mistake to romanticize all this any more than is strictly necessary. Web 2.0 harnesses the stupidity of crowds as well as its wisdom. Some of the comments on YouTube make you weep for the future of humanity just for the spelling alone, never mind the obscenity and the naked hatred.

But that’s what makes all this interesting. Web 2.0 is a massive social experiment, and like any experiment worth trying, it could fail. There’s no road map for how an organism that’s not a bacterium lives and works together on this planet in numbers in excess of 6 billion. But 2006 gave us some ideas. This is an opportunity to build a new kind of international understanding, not politician to politician, great man to great man, but citizen to citizen, person to person. It’s a chance for people to look at a computer screen and really, genuinely wonder who’s out there looking back at them. Go on. Tell us you’re not just a little bit curious.

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Web 2.0 followed by Enterprise 2.0

December 13, 2006

From the article: How to Harness the Power of Web 2.0 – BusinessWeek

Link to article

FOLLOWED BY SOME OF MY THOUGHTS ON ENTERPRISE 2.0

DO

Watch the kids: Children lead the way with new Web services such as the social network MySpace, the video sharing service YouTube, and personal blogs. It won’t be long before they’re in the workforce, bringing their networks with them.

The ‘kids’ or ‘children’ described by the author actually started using social networks, like Friendster or Ryze, when they were just out of college (these sites ‘hit’ in 2002). They were 21-23 then…they are 25-27 now (hardly children; unless you are thinking about retirement). They are already in the workforce…and about to reach a critical mass (especially in young companies).

Watch the kids—in your company, too. You may be surprised to find that young folks in a department are using the Internet phone service Skype or a group-editable wiki Web site. Find out what’s working and what isn’t.

Again, the author refers to ‘kids’. I think that if you have ever USED the internet, you will be easily able to grasp Enterprise 2.0. It will be as easy as a Google search, or a quick read of nytimes.com, or even simply using your blackberry. Then again, if you are reading this right now, I don’t need to tell you that. You most likely understand a lot more than most people if you, a) know what a blog is, or b) have ever read one!

– Almost everyone in a large corporations use computers each day. Enterprise 2.0, if implemented correctly, will allow knowledge workers a seemless transition from desktop applications to online applications.

Try it yourself: Create a MySpace page. Open a Flickr account and upload a few photos. Write a Wikipedia entry. Program a Web mashup at Ning.com. The only way to understand this stuff is to use it. And it’s easy.

For those reading this blog, I suggest:

– Create a LinkedIn account.

– Do a blog search on ‘anything that you are interested in knowing more about’ (click here).

– Then set up a RSS reader and start subscribing to the blogs and sources that appear in the search results…or subscribe to the search result feed itself (which works really well to stay informed about a particular subject) (click here).

– Lastly, write or update a Wikipedia entry…just pick a topic you think you know a lot about, search on Wikipedia, then feel free to edit!! (it’s that easy!…and it works be when EVERYONE participates)

Join the feed frenzy: Read some popular blogs to get a feel for how the online party line works. You can find them at Technorati.com and Techmeme.com, or better yet, subscribe to them with a so-called RSS feed reader, the most popular of which are listed on each
BusinessWeek blog.

Good advice!

Write your own blog: Or if that feels too forced, at least encourage other people in the company who want to. Strive for authenticity, even at the risk of self-criticism, because blog readers will quickly jump on spin.

I like this advice, but only if you and your company are ready for it…and know what you are getting into. I hope that what has been dubed Web 2.0 translated into Enteprise 2.0, will eventually be built into and around normal workflow systems (blackberry & email (blogging, reading blogs, RSS), home pages (personalize spaces), corporate directories (online networking), office applications (content publishing), etc.). That sounds good!

Elicit customer input: Many people love to offer their own expertise, and often it’s pretty darn useful. Mars asked people to vote on a new M&M candy color, drawing 10 million votes—and a lot of attention.

I would say, elicit employee contribution: ‘Many people love to offer their own expertise, and often it’s pretty darn useful’ (agreed!) – I say, allow people to ‘share’ their expertise and in return benefit from everyone’s collective knowledge.

DON’T

Assume Web 2.0 is just for consumers: The online customer-management service Salesforce.com just did $105 million in sales, up 63%. Even the college social network Facebook recently allowed companies to create profiles.

Enterprise 2.0!

Put up walls: Resist strict limits on employees’ on-the-job Web use. The more they can connect the innovation in Web 2.0 with their own jobs, the better off your company will be.

The key is to harness the willingness to ‘participate’ that is being demonstrated outside of the Intranet (if that makes sense; LinkedIn)…and benefit from using the same tools at the Enterprise level! (internal networking)

Take it personally: Opening up blogs to comments from customers inevitably will attract complaints and criticism. That’s OK. Consider it market research. Respond honestly, and watch your company’s credibility soar.

In Enteprise 2.0, this comment is directed at managers (at ANY level) and ‘organizations’. The key is to being open to change and new ways of doing things, both at the individual AND the enterprise level. If you can harness Enterprise 2.0 as a manager (there will surely be a few bumps in the road), then you are in a natural position to retain/regain/or grow your managerial effectiveness.

Sweat the details. You can’t personally keep up on every new Web 2.0 startup on TechCrunch.com, unless you don’t need much sleep. You’re running a company, remember? But make sure someone else is paying attention to these guys.

I say, give it a try…then give it a chance…then another try…then another chance. Each time hopefully you will see the potential…at some point, it’s going to hit home just how powerful Enterprise 2.0 could be. Then you will be hooked.

Tim O’Reilly redefines Web 2.0

December 11, 2006

Tim O’Reilly re-attempts to define Web 2.0 (link to full blog post):

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.”)

He continues:

Eric Schmidt has an even briefer formulation of this rule: “Don’t fight the internet.” That’s actually a wonderful way to think about it. Think deeply about the way the internet works, and build systems and applications that use it more richly, freed from the constraints of PC-era thinking, and you’re well on your way…

Other rules (which mostly fall out of this one) include:

– Don’t treat software as an artifact, but as a process of engagement with your users. (“The perpetual beta”)

– Open your data and services for re-use by others, and re-use the data and services of others whenever possible. (“Small pieces loosely joined”)

– Don’t think of applications that reside on either client or server, but build applications that reside in the space between devices. (“Software above the level of a single device”)

– Remember that in a network environment, open APIs and standard protocols win, but this doesn’t mean that the idea of competitive advantage goes away. (Clayton Christensen: “The law of conservation of attractive profits”)

– Chief among the future sources of lock in and competitive advantage will be data, whether through increasing returns from user-generated data (eBay, Amazon reviews, audioscrobbler info in last.fm, email/IM/phone traffic data as soon as someone who owns a lot of that data figures out that’s how to use it to enable social networking apps, GPS and other location data), through owning a namespace (Gracenote/CDDB, Network Solutions), or through proprietary file formats (Microsoft Office, iTunes). (“Data is the Intel Inside”)

(I’ll note that the process of getting advantage from data isn’t necessary a case of companies being “evil.” It’s a natural outcome of network effects applied to user contribution. Being first or best, you will attract the most users, and if your application truly harnesses network effects to get better the more people use it, you will eventually build barriers to entry based purely on the difficulty of building another such database from the ground up when there’s already so much value somewhere else. (This is why no one has yet succeeded in displacing eBay. Once someone is at critical mass, it’s really hard to get people to try something else, even if the software is better.) The question of “don’t be evil” will come up when it’s clear that someone who has amassed this kind of market position has to decide what to do with it, and whether or not they stay open at that point.)

“Defining” a business model transition is always hard. We had a “personal computer” era long before the business rules were clear. A deeper understanding of the new rules of business in the PC era, and a ruthless application of them before anyone else understood them as well, is what made Microsoft the king of the hill in that era.

A lot of what I’m trying to do with my thinking on Web 2.0 is to make the rules apparent to everyone, so that the industry isn’t blindsided. Perhaps a hopeless effort, but I’ve gotten some traction…

And later on in the comments section he boils it down to:

“Web 2.0 was the moment when we stopped using computers and started using the Internet.”

I think that this statement is very indicative and leads to a broader question…will Web 2.0 move the Internet closer to a system of collective intelligence? I think so…

Enterprise 2.0 – Defined AND Explained!

December 5, 2006

Definition (HBS Professor Andrew McAfee):

Enterprise 2.0 is the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers.

Social software enables people to rendezvous, connect or collaborate through computer-mediated communication and to form online communities. (Wikipedia’s definition).

Platforms are digital environments in which contributions and interactions are globally visible and persistent over time.

Emergent means that the software is freeform, and that it contains mechanisms to let the patterns and structure inherent in people’s interactions become visible over time.

Freeform means that the software is most or all of the following:

* Optional
* Free of up-front workflow
* Egalitarian, or indifferent to formal organizational identities
* Accepting of many types of data

Explanation (me):

Enterprise 2.0 is a concept to explain how new forms of online communication / collaboration and online networking will be applied to and adopted by business. To be clear, Enterprise 2.0 is NOT a technology, but is based on technology (what isn’t these days).

Enterprise 2.0 will change that they way we interact with people and information at work.

The new online technologies that are driving Enterprises 2.0 have been around on the Internet for a while now, and are commonly referred to as Web 2.0:

– Online networking: examples are social networks like MySpace, Facebook, Friendster and also business networks like LinkedIn and Rise.

– Online communication / collaboration: tools consist of blogs (don’t cringe), wikis (don’t be scared), and RSS (don’t think I am crazy).

Together, online networking and online communication / collaboration constitute a major shift in the way that people are now using the Internet. This movement has been coined Web 2.0, but can best be described as ‘the participation culture’ (Steve Borsch).

Participation

The great thing is, the concept of ‘participation’ is already built into the Enterprise. You are ‘participating’ when you go to work each day. You read/write email, answer voice messages, attend meetings, etc. etc. In Enterprise 2.0, you will be ‘participating’ in a drastically new way.

To try to clarify illustrate this concept of Enterprise 2.0, consider the following cultural shifts in a large company:

Information shifts from being trapped to flowing freely…from being protected to collected…from being private to shared.

Interaction with people (relationships) shifts from being competitive to collaborative…from being hierarchical to flat…and also from being private to shared.

The driving force behind the ‘participation culture’ is the transition of the Internet from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0.

Web 2.0

The basic premise behind Web 2.0 is that it is delivered via ‘online applications’ instead of websites.

– Online applications are easy to use and intuitive (even for the non-tech person). Think how easy it is to search Google or use Gmail.

– Online applications are fast. They feel just like applications that you use on a regular computer.

– But most importantly, online applications are collaborative. They have been created to create, share, aggregate, analyze and distribute information. And the more people that use them, the more power they have.

Adaptation

If we go back to my initial explanation, it reads, “Enterprise 2.0 is a concept to explain how new forms of online communication / collaboration and online networking will be applied to and adopted by business.

The main challenge that business will face from in transitioning to Enterprise 2.0 is not application but adoption.

The problem is, ‘if you don’t use it, you don’t get it’. For instance, if you don’t have a profile on a social networking site (MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, LinkedIn), then you probably don’t understand them. And if you don’t read blogs, then you most likely cringe when you hear the word.

However, the good news is that the opposite is also true, ‘if you use it, then you get it’. If you read blogs and network with friends online, then hopefully you understand how powerful Enterprise 2.0 can be.

A little more bad news though for most of us in business…the best correlation between people who ‘get it’ and people who ‘don’t get it’ is age.

– If you grew up with with the Internet and cell phones, then this comes naturally to you. By the way, you are under the age of 25.

– If you grew up without the internet, you never emailed in high school or college, then this is probably all a little bit scary. Oh, and you are most likely over the age of 30.

And then there are the lucky ones between the ages of 25 and 30 who understand life both with AND without technology. This generation was introduced to the internet somewhere between middle school and college. They learned the technology while they were still learning!

– Of course there are also those of you over 30 who have adapted well to technology and are ahead of the curve.

But all hope is not lost for those of you who ‘don’t get it’. I believe that anyone who can use email, search Google and read news on the internet can learn how to ‘participate’ and empower Enterprise 2.0.

Adoption of Enterprise 2.0 for a business is more cultural than anything else. The technology is simple and cheap, so the barriers to entry of Enterprise 2.0 are extremely low. Buy some blogging software, install it, and let people blog. But the barriers to success of Enterprise 2.0 are extremely high.

There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical that a large company will be able to successfully implement Enterprise 2.0:

– Adoption issues
– Information security issues
– Compliance issues
– Privacy issues
– Information overload (noise) issues
– Cultural issues

But there are plenty of solutions to many of these issues already built into Enterprise 2.0 technology. Remember, that Web 2.0 (participation) has been going on for a while now on the Internet…we are only now realizing that it is ready for the Intranet.

Timing

Another thing going for Enterprise 2.0: timing

I would bet that Enterprise 2.0 would be 10 times harder to implement in a bad economic market than in a good economic market. In bad times, people are worried about losing their jobs – they are inherently more ‘private’ – the things they are doing, who they are talking to, where the next piece of business is going to come from. But in good markets, the opposite is true, people are more willing to share and collaborate – they are looking for ways to work together, to come up with new ideas, and to make more money.

If you are over 30, I believe that you are inherently more ‘private’ than someone who is under 25. And conversely, if you are under the age of 25, I believe that you are inherently more willing to ‘share’ than someone who is over 30.

Enterprise 2.0 will depend on the ability for the people who ‘don’t get it’ to adapt (just like many of you at one point had to adapt to email). But in a bad market, forget about it.

Summary

So I have tried to explain a little bit about Enterprise 2.0. If you are still scratching you head, that’s okay.

If you have a desire to ‘get it,’ then you can learn, and the good thing is that technology is making it easier and easier everyday.

I’m sure that it would also be helpful to read about some real life examples or case studies. I realize that up until now, I have written mostly about theory. Going forward, I will focus much more on Enterprise 2.0 examples in the real world

In conclusion, I see Enterprise 2.0 as inevitable. For me, it’s not a question of ‘if’ but a question of ‘when’.

Lots more to come…