Monday 28 April 2008

Social Connecting in Business

This post refers to my new survey on HR 2.0. I don’t want to influence anyone’s answers to this, either one way or the other. So you may want to take this survey before continuing to read on. The survey is available at:

Referring to the CIPD’s current research, the elearning network define web 2.0 as ‘the second generation of web-based 'social and sociable' technologies that gives people more voice in matters that affect them, encourage conversations, interpersonal networking, personalisation and individualism’.

The term ‘web 2.0’ was introduced by Tim O’Reilly at an internet conference in 2004, in reference to data, voice and video applications that use the ‘internet as a platform’, enabling non-technical people to easily build their own programs with user friendly interfaces.

It is the fact that web 2.0 allows lots of people to easily use the web to communicate and to share information with many other people in real-time that leads to another definition of web 2.0 as the ‘participatory web’.

So, whereas the first boom in internet usage (what has now become known as web 1.0) was about broadcasting information, web 2.0 is about collaborating, participating and exchanging information between people. There may be truth in the point that this is what the web was supposed to be about all along (and some internet sites have encouraged it for a long time, for example users have been able to write book reviews in since1995). However, web 2.0 put interactions rather than transactions at its very heart.

In fact, to me, web 2.0 is about these interactions, not the technology that supports them. Google’s Blogger may be a web 2.0 application, but it is my blog: my posts and your comments, which are at the heart of much of my experience of web 2.0.

And in fact, although web 2.0 may have been defined as ‘internet as a platform’ in 2004, at the second conference a year later, its meaning had already changed to refer to the new ways of working this technology was enabling.

To me, the fundamental focus of web 2.0 is about connecting, which then enables empowerment, collaboration, collective intelligence, organisational democracy and all the other benefits that are often seen to result from the technology.

So to understand the importance of web 2.0, we need to understand the process and benefits that organisations see in connecting, not just how they are using the technology.

And we need to remember that connecting can be done in the real as well as the virtual world.

These are a couple of my beliefs about web 2.0 which underpin my current survey.


  1. Well put - what are the benefits of connecting?

    Then what connections can we facilitate more easily with technology.


  2. John, I urge you to jump off the bandwagon before the bubble bursts. And if the kids on Digg are any indication of the future, you can bet it will burst soon.

    Try this: pontificate new collaboration / interaction models in HR without bringing up web 2.0.

  3. Jo, yes, that's the hypothesis I want to test through the survey, although I'd update your last point to read 'what connections can we facilitate more easily with technology, and other approaches'.

    Anonyomous, I'd be really interested in your answers to the survey questions. I do ask about whether and which technological or other colaboration / interaction approaches are likely to see more growth over the next fie years.

    And I'm trying to ensure that these answers are grounded in organisations' current strategies, rather than whether individual respondents are 'revolutionaries' or 'wait-and-sees' etc.

    I actually don't mind which - I'm not trying to sell social media. But I do believe in the value of connecting, and I suspect web 2.0 is going to remaining a powerful enabler to helping employees connect effectively.


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