Thursday, 3 May 2007

'Social Computing' versus Enterprise 2.0

A couple of recent experiences have prompted me to think about definitions, or, more interestingly, what someone might have in mind when they use one of the many terms for Web 2.0 etc.

The first was my getting involved in a tender for a contract with a public sector archive organisation. Perhaps not the stuff of Web 2.0, you might think. But this organisation is keen to investigate applying 'social computing' to its archives website. In their case their definition of social computing is broad, which is fine, because what they want done is a survey of the field. But if they had simply decided to award a contract to build a 'social computing' facility, the wise contractor would have taken quite a lot of trouble to pin down the definition. Otherwise, how long is a piece or string?

The second was an interesting chat with an information manager in a firm of headhunters. She wasn't hunting my head, just kicking a few ideas around with me. My knee-jerk assumption when talking about Enterprise 2.0 is that it'll be about internal knowledge-sharing via blogs and wikis, loosely structured and 'socialised' via tagging and RSS. She was skeptical about the chances of this taking off in her organisation. People don't have time, incentives don't support sharing, culturally information is something that has to be 'pushed'. On the other hand, there is great interest in social networks of the LinkedIn kind, because a headhunter's business is people and the relationships between them. Nirvana would be to be able to integrate information from external sources and the internal contacts database to give an overview of connections, LinkedIn-style.

I have learnt that when I start talking about "Web 2.0 / Enterprise 2.0 / Social Computing etc etc" I need to make sure we're both on the same wavelength. And probably each organisation will have a subtly different need.

1 comment:

Matt Moore said...

So there's the regular menu that's trotted out:
- Blogs
- Wikis
- Tagging / Folksonomies
- Social Networks
- Podcasts

Also Search, Mashups, Collaborative filtering (e.g. Amazon recommendations).

BTW Here is a post from Ross Dawson on the corporate social networks market: