Saturday, 1st December 2007
On the evolutionary scale, 10 years isn't even a blip, not a blink,
not a breath in. It's hardly anything at all. But on the information
scale, especially in the years from 1997 to 2007, a decade is a new
mountain range, a new species, a new world.
FreePint has been covering this evolution revolution from tip to tail,
keeping up with changes in the business information industry as
they've happened. Now, as we celebrate our 10th birthday, we've
invited four top experts in their fields of finding, using, managing
and sharing information to explain what these changes mean from a
By the time you read this, the landscape is likely to have evolved
again - who knows what earthshaking ideas are rippling forth? Until
then, here are the hottest trends in the last 10 years. We'll keep an
eye on the seismograph while you read.
Share By Jessica Lipnack
Though born half a century ago for the very purpose of sharing, the
Internet's contribution to collaboration only began to flower in the
virtual recent past.
In 1997, going online still was new in many places, including most
developed countries. Dial-up meant that people ran mental meters while
online (the faster you got off, the less it cost); being on the Web at
work was highly suspicious; and it was still reasonable to ask, 'Are
you on e-mail?'
'You had to go to IT to negotiate projects for massive systems if you
wanted to collaborate', says Michael Sampson, principal at
Collaboration Success Advisors. 'Now it's a credit card and
$49.99/month for Confluence. Collaboration was an add-on-you did stuff
then thought about how to share. Now it's core to products.'
Collaborative Strategies' David Coleman marks 1997 as the formative
year for 'real-time collaboration'. With the advent of
Web-conferencing companies like Centra and WebEx, screen-sharing
across distance turned simple. Everyone could look at the same
information simultaneously without having to be in the same location.
We take it for granted now but remote screen sharing was a
breakthrough for conference calls.
Just as the dot-com bubble inflated, online team rooms sprouted across
corporate networks. Products like Lotus Notes and eRoomwere standard
bearers for a new way of working asynchronously. Though their
forebears (EIES, c. 1975 and MetaNet, c. 1982) had been providing
online collaboration environments for decades, the late-1990s team
room made work-at-a-distance significantly easier. (Disclosure: My
company, NetAge, designed Livelink virtualteams for Open Text).
Fast-forward to the year 2000 bubble-burst and the birth of the
supernova: Wikipedia. Many global experiments in massive numbers of
people working together preceded the Wikipedians but none matched
their collaborative heft. The electronic encyclopedia of eight million
pages in 250 languages arising from voluntary collaboration was a
landmark in human cooperation.
Peer-to-peer computing, the ultimate in you-me and me-you
collaboration (or stealing, depending on your perspective) made
headlines then too. And, lest we forget, instant messaging, another
early Internet feature, and text messaging also burst onto the scene
at the dawn of the 21st century, radically transforming quick
Advance the clock to now, when we're in the middle of the Web 2.0 era.
Over the past few years, a lifetime in collaboration, the underlying
technology that allows us to share everything in multiple media with a
few clicks is so good that it's 'our bad' if we can't work together
'I could go on poetically for hours about the 'prince of social
software - the wiki,' says Loretta Donovan, Adjunct Assistant
Professor at Columbia University. 'Its ability to allow co-creation
both synchronously and asynchronously ... [and] retain archives is the
essence of collaboration.'
Wikis, blogs, and social networking have radically altered
collaboration. The just-for-kids nature of online social networks is
growing up even as I type.
What's next? Haven't even mentioned Second Life and the other virtual
environments yet, again with deep roots, but now they're going
mainstream. Increased bandwidth, better compression algorithms, and
faster transmission speeds will bring these 3-D collaborative
technologies inside companies, Coleman says. And, before long,
holography will be a commodity, real-time language translators will be
commonplace-and our skill in dissolving distance itself will morph
into something we can barely imagine.
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