Launching the Web 2.0 Framework

[UPDATE:] We have taken the Web 2.0 Framework and applied it to the enterprise in our Implementing Enterprise 2.0 report – You can download Chapter 2 on Web 2.0 and the Enterprise here.

Alongside our corporate strategy consulting and research work in the media and technology space, Future Exploration Network has created a Web 2.0 Framework to share openly. Click here or on any of the images below to download the Framework as a pdf (713KB).

The intention of the Web 2.0 Framework is to provide a clear, concise view of the nature of Web 2.0, particularly for senior executives or other non-technical people who are trying to grasp the scope of Web 2.0, and the implications and opportunities for their organizations.

There are three key parts to the Web 2.0 Framework, as shown below:

Web 2.0 Framework

Web 2.0 Framework

* Web 2.0 is founded on seven key Characteristics: Participation, Standards, Decentralization, Openness, Modularity, User Control, and Identity.

* Web 2.0 is expressed in two key Domains: the Open web, and the Enterprise.

* The heart of Web 2.0 is how it converts Inputs (User Generated Content, Opinions, Applications), through a series of Mechanisms (Technologies, Recombination, Collaborative Filtering, Structures, Syndication) to Emergent Outcomes that are of value to the entire community.

Web 2.0 Definitions

Web 2.0 Definitions

* We define the Web 2.0 Characteristics, Domains, and Technologies referred to in the Framework.

* Ten definitions for Web 2.0 are provided, including the one I use to pull together the ideas in the Framework: “Distributed technologies built to integrate, that collectively transform mass participation into valuable emergent outcomes.”

Web 2.0 Landscape

Web 2.0 Landscape

* Sixty two prominent Web 2.0 companies and applications are mapped out across two major dimensions: Content Sharing to Recommendations/ Filtering; and Web Application to Social Network. The four spaces that emerge at the junctions of these dimensions are Widget/ component; Rating/ tagging; Aggregation/ Recombination; and Collaborative filtering. Collectively these cover the primary landscape of Web 2.0.

As with all our frameworks, the Web 2.0 Framework is released on a Creative Commons license, which allows anyone to use it and build on it as they please, as long as there is attribution with a link to this blog post and/ or Future Exploration Network. The framework is intended to be a stimulus to conversation and further thinking, so if you disagree on any aspect, or think you can improve on it, please take what is useful, leave the rest, and create something better.

In the Framework document we also mention our forthcoming Future of Media Summit 2007, which will be held simultaneously in Sydney and San Francisco this July 18/17. In the same spirit as this Web 2.0 Framework, we will be releasing substantial research, framework, and other content on the Future of Media in the lead-up to our event, continuing the tradition from the Future of Media Strategic Framework and Future of Media Report 2006 that we released last year. Hope this is all useful!

Particls switches on the power of RSS

In the last few days I’ve made a couple of references to Particls, first in writing about our Web 2.0 in Australia event next week, where we had invited Particls to present as one of the most interesting applications on the scene, and an hour ago in my Top 60 Web 2.0 Applications in Australia list posted on Read/Write Web. As of earlier today, Particls has moved to public beta, and deservedly attracted substantial attention. The best reviews out so far are from Read/Write Web, Techcrunch, Mashable!, and StartupSquad – best to go there for a full rundown on Particls.

I think Particls is important for two reasons. First, it provides a completely friendly interface to RSS with far superior functionality to your usual feed aggregators. RSS is one of the most important foundations to Web 2.0 and the promise of the Internet, yet a minority of people really understand what it is, and use it well. Particls is the first of what I hope are a whole generation of tools that embed RSS in ways that make it invisible and provide access to the information people want.

Second, it is a solid and useable implementation of information filtering that shows how this landscape may unfold moving forward. Active filtering is an issue I’ve been strongly interested in for the last decade. For example, back in 2001 a company called Worldstreet was using XML-based document tagging to improve the flow of research documents from investment banks to funds managers, allowing high priority and relevant information to cut through to the users from the myriad of information they were receiving. The company was bought by Thomson Financial and incorporated into their Thomson Connect product, with its best features ultimately disappearing. Now that we are all experiencing the same degree of information overload as the funds managers of yesteryear, the world is now ready for sophisticated multi-tier filtering of information.

Having had the Particls toolbar installed for just a day now, I can confirm that the content streaming through is highly relevant to me, and I have better access to the information that’s relevant to me. Those that can use these kinds of tools well will be highly advantaged in our intensely knowledge-based economy moving forward.

Click on the image here to download Particls, including a feed to this blog (which you can delete if you wish):

Particls InTouch

Prepaid mobile airtime becomes currency in Africa – what happened to e-cash?

Om Malik has a very interesting article on how pre-paid mobile minutes are effectively becoming a currency across Africa. I visited South Africa three times late last year while helping a large African media conglomerate to develop its long-term strategy. At the time I wrote about how mobiles are allowing Africa to leapfrog the fixed internet, and also about the potential and challenges of South Africa.

The majority of services in Africa are shifting to mobile phone interfaces, as close to a majority of people now have mobile phones – these are no longer luxuries for most people – while there are few other interfaces available for commerce. Even landline phones are often not available, let alone fixed internet or other interactive devices. As a result, mobile banking and a vast array of mobile services are taking off fast.

One of the greatest values of anything prepaid is that it can be exchanged. When local currencies have problems with inflation, availability of currency, institutional trust and so on, alternatives swiftly come to the fore. I certainly find it interesting that talk of e-cash, all the rage in the late 1990s, has now largely disappeared. One of the major uncertainties in the future is whether we ever finally get rid of the bits of paper and metal in our wallets that we exchange for goods and services. This is a major inefficiency in our lives. It would be so much easier to swipe or approve something. While there are potential privacy issues, it is possible to create completely untraceable e-cash. The primary reason e-cash went no further was that there were major vested interests stamping on the various alternative standards being proposed. It’s possible that something will emerge that people start using of their own accord, just as is happening with mobile airtime in Africa. Yet there are better ways of doing it. I think that within a decade e-cash will be firmly back on the agenda.

The latest on Web 2.0 in Australia: Showcasing the best

[POST-EVENT:] Also see post-event comments and release of Web 2.0 Framework.

The Web 2.0 in Australia event on 6 June is turning out pretty much exactly as designed. It will be a compact, senior executive, invitation-only event covering topics including frameworks for thinking about Web 2.0, why progress has been slow in Australia, current leading examples of Web 2.0 in Australia, and implications and opportunities for corporates, start-ups and marketing.

Sponsors and partners include BEA Systems, KPMG, Australian Venture Capital Assocation, Australian Information Industry Association, Department of State and Regional Development, Australian Interactive Media Industry Assocation, Smart Internet Technology CRC, and Innovation Bay. The latest information on the event is here.

Web2cover.jpg

The final speaker line-up is absolutely fantastic, including:

* Richard MacManus, Editor, Read/ Write Web

* Allan Aaron, General Partner, Technology Venture Partners

* David Backley, Chief Technology Officer, Westpac

* Brad Howarth, Journalist and Director, LaGrange Communications

* Randal Leeb-du Toit, CEO, Yoick

* Adrian McDermott, Vice President of Engineering, BEA Systems

* Chris Smith, General Manager, Sensis Interactive

I’ll also present our Web 2.0 framework (which will be released next week) and chair the event. Richard and Adrian are flying in from New Zealand and Silicon Valley respectively. Richard’s been keen to get over to Australia to get a better feel for the local Web 2.0 community. The event is partly intended to help Richard – and of course others! – to do this. We have a fantastic audience of some of the most senior executives from the corporate and technology sector in Australia coming along on the day.

The main reason for this post is to announce the companies we’re showcasing as “five leading examples of Web 2.0 in Australia” at the event. These have been selected purely on merit. We did a good scour of what’s out there in this space to make the selection. The results of our research, giving a quick rundown on the top 50 or so Web 2.0 companies in Australia, will be released in the next few days, appearing first on Richard’s Read/Write Web, which is one of the top few technology blogs in the world. I’ll post it on this blog shortly afterwards.

In the meantime, the leading five companies that are being showcased at the event are (in alphabetical order):

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Web 2.0 helps us transcend the tyranny of the email inbox

The Sydney Morning Herald has a very interesting full-page article today by Brad Howarth titled It’s web take 2.0, which delves into some of the business applications of Web 2.0. It covers a broad range of technologies and companies, including social search engine Swicki, scalable virtual world Outback Online, community space Tangler, and Web 2.0 initiatives from Kimberly-Clark and World Wildlife Fund. The article links to this blog among a few other Web 2.0 references, and quotes me on the enterprise applications of Web 2.0:

According to social technologies researcher Ross Dawson, some information-intensive organisations, including law firms and banks, are the most active in investigating the benefits of web 2.0 technology, as an extension of ongoing knowledge management developments.

“Web 2.0 in the enterprise is about enabling people to better find information and work with it,” Mr Dawson says. “There are some sweet spots, which are very natural applications for blogs and wikis where it makes a lot of sense. And these are projects, competitive intelligence, and many other things where you are trying to get broad information and input on a specific topic.”

In the case of competitive intelligence, for instance, a wiki can be set up to allow employees to input information they may have learnt about their organisation’s competitors, and rely on their colleagues to collaborate or correct their entries. The same can be true of corporate blogs.

“There’s a lot of cynicism around whether it is worth doing or not, but done well, in the right sort of organisation, it is a way to get greater visibility and awareness of capabilities across the organisation.”

Mr Dawson also believes that blogs and wikis can become an alternative to email.

“Email as a communication platform is experiencing breakdown because people have too many emails. If you can start to shift activity outside of email, that’s enormously valuable and more effective and more productive.”

Many years ago I was already referring to “communication breakdown” in the corporate use of email (at the time about financial markets participants, whose email inboxes overflowed before anyone else’s…). The next phase of evolution of corporate communication and work processes must be about moving beyond email as a tool. People are familiar with it, and it provides a single portal to communication, but it is a massively ineffective tool for many business communication needs. Web 2.0 tools offer a ready-made, easy to use alternative for some business applications. Most projects, for example, would function far better using blogs or wikis instead of email for communication. There are certainly other approaches to transcending the email inbox as our primary communication tool. However Web 2.0 tools are already at hand to vastly improve corporate communication, if we choose to use them.

I’ve written at length before about these issues, including some of the investment banks’ initiatives and successes in moving beyond email, initiatives from IBM, blogging shifting into Enterprise 2.0, and so on.

In the next couple of weeks I’ll be releasing a Web 2.0 framework which will put into context both the consumer web and enterprise applications.

Exhibitionism drives the power of Web 2.0

The power of Web 2.0 is driven by mass participation. High-value outcomes emerge from tapping our collective use of the web. Clicks, links, ratings, tags, and social connections are all used as fodder to “teach the machine” how to give us relevant and personalized information, entertainment, interaction, and applications. Without that rich input from all of us, there would be no way for the whole new wonderful world of the web to be created by the “power of us”. I often use the example of del.icio.us. We all used to bookmark what interested us on our web browser, so only we could use that information. As soon as we start bookmarking publicly, it is not just other individuals who can gain value from what we find interesting, but far more importantly, collectively the millions of bookmarks compiled allow the most compelling information on the web to become visible to the people who find it most relevant.

It is important to understand that this power is only unleashed when people choose to publicly disclose, in this case, their bookmarks. If everyone preferred to keep their bookmarks to themselves, there would be no value. One of the most interesting insights of the last few years is how open people have proved to have been, in disclosing bookmarks, profiles, preferences, thoughts, behaviors, and far more. Twitter, a “micro-blogging” service, allows tens of thousands of people to disclose the minutiae of their lives. Justin.tv seems to have been the catalyst for many more who are opening out their lives on video for all to see. We are finding ourselves to be exhibitionists. And that is a wonderful thing, because without it, we would not be able to create collective value in the information economy.

Into this world Cluztr has launched a new service that allows you to share your clickstream (everything you do on the web) with your friends. In their words:

Cluztr lets you share your web-browsing with your friends and discover new sites and people relevant to you and your interests.

• See who’s on the same web page as you.

• Find out what sites your friends are visiting and follow them around the web.

• Chat and leave messages on any website you visit.

This is a pretty high level of exhibitionism – it’s like having all of your friends (or everyone in the world if you so choose) looking over your shoulder as your browse the web. Yet there are also solid privacy provisions in place, allowing full control over disclosure of web browsing behaviors. Cluztr can use aggregated data to create valuable insights into what’s hot on the web for any particular individual, without disclosing individual clickstreams. There is real value in social bookmarking, as it shows an explicit opinion about value, but tracking clickstreams arguably has the potential to gain richer insights into behaviors and interests, and thus greater value to all of us.

Mark Evans suggests that Facebook should consider acquiring or copying Cluztr. I suspect that this kind of service will do better initially as a stand-alone, as long as it has sufficient perceived trust. After that, certainly it will be a target.

Duncan Riley at Techcrunch calls Cluztr “social bookmarking meets Big Brother. It’s the Del.icio.us Homer Simpson would use… I should be horrified by a service that tracks and publicly exposes every site you visit, and yet for some reason this one stands out. Perhaps like much of society as a whole I’ve become engulfed by a wave of voyeurism, and Cluztr wets my appetite.” However voyeurism – individual and collective – requires exhibitionism. Fortunately, many of us are proving to exhibitionists.

Geocloning and the globalization of media

The other day I was having a conversation with a senior executive of Reed Elsevier about the future of media, and in discussing their inititiatives he used the word “geocloning”. I immediately took up on this neat and intriguing neologism, which obviously means taking a business and duplicating it in its entirety in another country. I later Googled the term, and found that geocloning seems at this stage to be a word used exclusively by Reed Elsevier, however it uses it freely in its investor communication.

The word interests me because it immediately evokes many of the issues in the globalization of media. One of the key themes of the Future of Media Summit 2007 (as last year) is Global Strategies for Media:

New distribution channels allow content creators anywhere to access global markets. A useful way to identify some of the variables across media markets is to compare key features of the US and Australian media markets, including industry structure, ownership concentration, scale, demographic, and technology platforms. This helps to identify appropriate global strategies for media industry participants.

The core issue is that while the Internet allows global distribution for digital content, localization is often required. At the highest level, language and format may need to be changed. Entertainment in some cases benefits from localization, such as country versions of Big Brother or American Idol, or Russian imitations of American soap operas or Latin American telenovelas. Global syndicated news is often localized with currency translations and addition of local relevance or commentary. Local niche media is a growing space, however it requires a judicious mix of local and broader customized content.

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