In Who's afraid of Web 2.0? Who's even heard of it?
A short time spent searching Wikipedia (itself a Web 2.0 phenomenon, as it turns out) gives one a somewhat cryptic idea that something's been developing for several years but wasn't named till 2004. Thus, when called to a day-long seminar September 20 ("The New New Internet," sponsored by Executive Biz), a group from AIA staff went and grappled with a concept apparently understood well by only a handful of in-the-know computer programmers and business cognoscenti.
In short (and I depend on you to correct me, here):
- There are a whole lot of clever people out there stitching together existing programs (the result are called mashups) - or writing their own - that mine and manipulate information
- They make these new applications available on the Web (e.g., MySpace, Flickr, del.icio.us, Photobucket, Digg, or Pickspal)
- With millions of Web users and hundreds of thousands of programmers, applications morph rapidly in ways the original code writers never imagined
- Sometime the sponsors of these sites make serious money but, unlike in the dot.com days, don't spend tons of it in development
- Users are typically drawn to the social-interaction aspects of the tool; word spreads via the Web, too (aka, viral marketing)
- The platform isn't Windows or OS, it is the Internet itself.
As Wikepedia found out, strong central control is anathema to Web 2.0 development. It was only when their developers gave control of content development to Web users that it experienced the incredible growth it did ... organization emerged almost of its own accord.
And, so, here's the message from the Harvard business professor who wrapped up the session:
Successful business enterprises will soon find a way to use this seemingly disorganized applications platform to beat out their less-adroit competition. The key is being creative, accepting innovation, relaxing a little, and allowing others within the organization to do the same.
What do you think?