Saturday, May 20, 2006

Navigating the Waters of "Social Computing"

See the Interview with President & CEO Chris ProulxIt turns out that all that talk in the early days of the Internet about an electronically driven "free market of ideas" wasn't just a lot of bunk.

Nothing exemplifies the new idea marketplace better than two Web-based innovations that have gained headway in the last couple of years: blogs and wikis. Blogs are Web sites designed to let people post communication about events and other information, usually in chronological order. Wikis are sites that allow users to add and edit content on a given set of subjects.

Businesses shouldn't feel obligated to deploy blogs or wikis, but if they ignore them—and the trends they represent—they do so at their peril. And companies can, in fact, use blogs and wikis to their advantage. But not without risks.

As Forrester Research explained in a February paper on the blog and wiki phenomenon—which it calls "social computing"—individuals are increasingly taking their cues from one another online rather than from "institutional sources like corporations, media outlets, religions and political bodies." Inexpensive hardware, modular content and shared computing resources are making connections between people easier. The changes those connections bring are having an impact on both larger society and the business marketplace itself.

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