Back when emekáeme was young (well, yes, that was not quite long ago) I quoted Tom Davenport in an article that tried to deflate the «web-2.0-technology-will-change-the-word,-save-the-whales,-and-eradicate-alopecia» camp, a position defended by his fellow professor Andrew McAfee (with a somewhat better argumentation, granted), by stressing that people and organisations change more slowly than the web gets glitzier, and questioning the real novelty of it all. They’ve spun the topic for all it’s worth, so you should be able to find ample references to their positions :-).
During the just-unwinding Enterprise 2.0 conference, the organisers were wily enough to set up a moderated public debate between the two of them. It was interesting, it fed both camps of followers, and it’s got a video recording here (found it through Jason Wood).
As usual, I won’t spoil your video pleasure. Let’s just say that this debate starts to look more and more artificial:
- Everyone can agree that Web 2.0 is nothing more than a market name for the latest batch of internet related technologies, especially those that allow widespread participation. The division is arbitrary, and the borders fuzzy.
- Everyone can agree that Web 2.0 will exponientially increase the influence of web technologies on corporations, by making it simple and cheap.
- The «emergence» paradigm is the real change generator: the realization that ideas, knowledge, strategies, models, emerge from the rows of the knowledge workers (and beyond into the public) instead of descending from on high… when you let them. And that this is good.
Integrating this «emergence» paradigm into the management methods of modern business is darn hard. It will take time, it will take experiments and failures. It’s not just a technology awareness issue (as the previous implementations of e-business and other disruptive technologies), it’s a cultural issue. A business-practices issue.
Web 2.0 is just another enabler for a cultural change that was already under way with Web 1.0. Witness forums, online collaboration tools (not invented with tags et al), and the emergence of the idea of the knowledge worker. Witness the whole latest generation of Knowledge Management as a discipline.
And the rest of the debate… sells tickets and draws eyeballs. And plays in the hands of smoke sellers to cloud the real issues.