Boris Mann

Open Source. Community. Decentralized Web. Building dev tools at Fission. Cooks & eats.


Nova Spivack: The Pattern of Online Technology Fads

Nova Spivack does a very good job of tracing some themes/memes of online technology development in four areas: content, communication, collaboration, and community. Some of his thoughts closely parallel many of the things that I have been saying (privately) about social networking applications:

The key lesson here is that mere "Community Platform" companies did not become big businesses in their own right -- those that survived had to either verticalize or focus on enterprise collaboration. The same will be true of companies that provide platforms for social networking in the enterprise.

Minding the Planet: The Pattern of Online Technology Fads

Yes, absolutely: as I stated in my recent post to Scoble, neither blogging personal publishing nor social networking are an end goal in and of themselves -- they are merely new features. I feel even more strongly that all four areas that Nova mentions are headed on a direct collision course…

I crossed out "blogging" because it is not a good term. It is understandable to the industry, to those that self-identify with this new label, but it is not a good description of what it actually is. To me, it's personal publishing. I need to (consciously) start using this label, because it's important.

As Nova does, I see big parallels to the birth of desktop publishing. Actually, I think personal publishing hasn't really arrive yet: everyone can/does desktop publish, very few people (relatively speaking) are involved in personal publishing. In dealing with businesses, I still see lots of problems with basic website publishing: the belief that it is hard, coupled with the belief that paying your neighbour's kid's friends a few bucks is the end goal of establishing a good web presence.

Similarly, we're halfway through the 2000's and Nova's current identification of "Wikis, Decentralized Collaboration & Semantic Webs" as the status-quo for collaboration really doesn't seem to measure up with reality. His list of technologies for the previous step are "Groupware, KM, and Intranets". To which I offer some counterpoints: most small businesses don't have any one of those tools, and even large companies struggle with all three of those items.

Whew! This is starting to get long. Nova: as I recently said to Roland, I do well in a "devil's advocate" role -- I love being able to think about what you've presented in this post.

Nova has "persistent identity and relationship management" in the communication category, whereas I would place those functions squarely in community. I would say that boundaries between "Content, Communication, Collaboration, and Community" are becoming very blurry (if indeed there were any to begin with).

There is lots more to think about here. To sum up, I think that "not quite there yet" applies to a lot of these categories -- best practices are only now starting to emerge, and the current crop of "new" technologies have arisen out of identified failures in the current best practices.