Monday 18 May 2009

Time for an upgrade? Wiki 2.0

It probably won't come as any surprise to hear that I agree with this point made by Gil Yehuda in a recent post* about the take up and maturity of Enterprise 2.0:

"For me at least, having a wiki, forum, blogs, etc. on the intranet and using a wiki, forum, blog effectively to improve the transparency and productivity of collaboration are very different indicators of progress."

I'm just waiting for other people to 'get it' that not only does simply installing the odd social computing application mean very little, but they can also be used in very different ways - a while ago I called this the grey area problem. It doesn't mean using social computing tools this way is useful or beneficial, its just not really what we imagined Enterprsie 2.0 would be like.

Similarly, Yehuda also points to a new wiki case study on Boxes and Arrows, where Matthew C. Clarke draws distinction between public, team and enterprise wikis. Yehuda chips in his two cents worth again and puts forwards an alternative break down of:

"1. enterprise-wide transparency 2. departmental-wide unity 3. team-wide coordination 4. project-wide activity (which may or may not be the same as team) 5. individual productivity enhancement tools (profile, streams, bookmarks, etc.)".

These are nice break downs, even if some what two-dimensional, but I'll support any kind of thinking that takes us beyond thinking that a wiki is a wiki is a wiki. What I mean is that its a combination what (is the tool), how (are they using it) and who (is using it).

Clarke also makes a good point about wikis disappearing:

"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."

Really what he is saying that wiki will become more of a verb and less a noun. However, again I'm not sure its good enough to add wiki-like page editing functionality to an information tool and expect it to behave like a social computing tool suddenly (if that's your intent). I think what's more interesting is the evolution of enterprise wikis, as they add other types of social computing features. Other social computing platforms may also threaten these wiki-based solutions by adding the capability to manage pages and documents. But in the race to be all things to all people, I really hope that the social computing technology thought leaders don't lose their way.

Hmm. Wiki 2.0 anyone?

*Hat tip to Greg Lloyd on the Social Media Today blog.

UPDATE: Nice response post from Mark Gould.

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