The Grey Chronicles

2008.December.23

What’s the Fuss About Web 2.0?


How business are using Web 2.0Web 2.0, or the second version of the Web, are technologies that rely on user collaboration. The more popular services include MySpace, Wikipedia, and YouTube.

The McKinsey Global Survey (2007) on Web 2.0 found that the more than three-fourths of respondents plan to maintain or increase their investments in technology trends that encourage user collaboration, such as peer-to-peer networking, social networks, and Web services. . . [Respondents] also offered insights into how and why their companies are using Web 2.0 and where these technologies may offer a sustained competitive edge.

Here’s an overview of what are these Web 2.0 technologies:

Blogs [short for Web logs] “are online journals or diaries hosted on a Web site and often distributed to other sites or readers using RSS.”

Collective intelligence “refers to any system that attempts to tap the expertise of a group rather than an individual to make decisions. Technologies that contribute to collective intelligence include collaborative publishing and common databases for sharing knowledge.”

Mash-ups “are aggregations of content from different online sources to create a new service.”

Peer-to-peer networking [sometimes called P2P] “is a technique for efficiently sharing files [music, videos, or text) either over the Internet or within a closed set of users. . . P2P distributes files across many machines . . . Some systems retrieve files by gathering and assembling pieces of them from many machines.”

Podcasts “are audio or video recordings—a multimedia form of a blog or other content. They are often distributed through an aggregator, such as iTunes.” [Note: Microsoft called these as webcasts.]

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) “allows people to subscribe to online distribution of news, blogs, podcasts, or other information.”

Social networking “refers to systems that allow members of a specific site to learn about other members’ skills, talents, knowledge, or preferences. Commercial examples include Facebook and MySpace. Some companies use these systems internally to help identify experts.”

Web services “are software systems that make it easier for different systems to communicate with one another automatically in order to pass information or conduct transactions.”

Wikis, such as Wikipedia “are systems for collaborative publishing. They allow many authors to contribute to an online document or discussion.”

Web 2.0 technologies are used to communicate with business partners, suppliers, customers and to help manage knowledge internally. Large, high tech and Asian companies are more focused on networking and collective intelligence technologies than the global average; while North American media and telecommunication industries, tend to invest more in RSS, blogs, and podcasts than others.

In the case of adoption and barriers, the study found:

“Most Web 2.0 tools are simple-to-use applications that are hosted offsite, which makes them easy to implement. Given that ease, it’s not surprising that . . . grassroots efforts are often as effective as formal pilot programs. . .The old shareholders do not understand the use of IT and they think of it as a cost, not an opportunity. . . . Web 2.0 tools . . . may lead to a long-term [competitive] advantage”

Personally, of these Web 2.0 technologies I used blogs, RSS, Podcasts, Web services, Social networking, and Wikis. I employed RSS, during my stint as Analyst, Business Strategy. Using an aggregator, news about the steel industry was filtered, summarized and delivered to me each day, which gave me more time doing other important studies on the steel industry rather than searching all those other steel-related websites for relevant news. Considering the time difference, podcasts are useful for virtual attendance to online seminars. I attended several video seminars, from meetings with the defunt GeoCities’ community leaders, to lectures on using emerging technologies, such as ASP. In the Philippines the most popular web services is Chikka.com, which enable the user to send SMS using the computer to any registered cellphone. Another one is Yahoo Messenger, and one could even hold a exclusive chatroom with one’s contacts. For social networking, I am a contributor to Yahoo!Answers, presently on Level 6 and a top contributor to Computer Security questions. Tried Wikis, too; but my write-ups there are on-hold for the time being until I find a simple software with a small footprint which I could use and write wikis off-line. Tried to use P2P in the past, but security issues in this technology defeats its usability.


Notes:

McKinsey & Company (2007). How business are using Web 2.0. New Ontario: The McKinsey Quarterly, January 2007. back to text

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