Web 2.0 and intranets

In my post on “The Death of Internal Communications” I mentioned the fact that “Web 2.0” technologies are altering the way that intranets are governed. In a recent article, Colin White discusses something similar. Usefully, he separates out two elements of Web 2.0 – “information collaboration” and “application development”. For me, these two are at the heart of everything 2.0’y.

The collaboration piece addresses the function of 2.0 – it aims to bring people together, to democratize information, and distribute the governance.

The development piece addresses some of the technical benefits – providing easy ways to integrate disparate applications (mashups) and rapid development of server based applications that run like desktop apps (AJAX et al).

I find it helpful to have a clear distinction between the two. The first is about the site vision, the second is about implementation. They are separate but equally important to define.

For any particular project I might want to deploy a web 2.0 vision (collaborative spaces) without the web 2.0 implementation (ajax), or conversely a web 1.0 vision (publishing company info) in a 2.0 implementation (a mashup). Understanding which elements the project calls for (if any) helps me to avoid getting caught in a sticky 2.0 web just for the sake of it.

One final thing, I’m convinced that for an enterprise deployment such as an intranet, the 2.0 vision doesn’t work in isolation. You always need the traditional top-down publishing piece to support it. So the Razorfish example in Colin White’s post only works if there is an “official intranet” to support it.

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