Saturday, August 4, 2007

Enterprise 2.0

I have worked in informatics for the same giant multi-national pharmaceutical company for the last 6 or 7 years. In that time I have come to take it for granted that the corporation is highly resistant to change, that experimenting with new technologies is not generally seen as a high value activity* (or at least there are enormous barriers), and that technologies and conveniences I have come to take for granted outside the firewall are simply not going to exist inside the firewall.

Web 2.0 is one of those things I take for granted doesn't exist. What blogs there are inside the corporation are announced via email (!), don't have advertised RSS feeds (!), aren't generally searchable (!), and if you can find the hidden RSS feed it is often out of sync with the blog (!) and the RSS alert comes long after the email alert (!). I don't even know where to start with how craptastic that is. As an application architect I have often thought of exposing useful alerts and information as RSS or Atom, but the masses have tightly controlled desktops with no RSS reader, so really, what's the point? One of the applications that I work on at the moment has a huge mashup of RSS feeds as one of its key features, but everything remotely "web 2.0ish" about it is carefully hidden from view, so as not to frighten the poor user.

Well, one aspect about working for a giant corporation is that there are always things going on that I would be interested in if only I knew about them.

It turns out there is a fairly large underground web 2.0 movement that I had no idea existed. Simon Revell and Jason Marshall are colleagues of mine from across the pond and they are leading the charge. Yay!

There are tons of challenges though. I don't think critical mass will ever be reached if we don't have RSS readers on LOTS of desktops, means of exploring the blogs that exist (by searching, by directories with page rank ability, whatever), important feeds that carry extremely useful or critical information (whether from applications or individuals doesn't matter), means of searching blogs, including the ability to search for blogs that LINK to my blog (Joel has a long discussion about why this is better than blog comments here and here), good blogging software that supports not only individual blogs, but group blogs (and that doesn't require reams of paperwork to get started), and good mashup software that works inside the firewall (e.g. yahoo pipes).


* I am talking about large scale experimentation. Individual experimentation is, in many circumstances including my own, encouraged. Very large scale experimentation is required, though, to try out any kind of social software.


Simon said...

Hi David. Thanks for the discussion on RSS both here and during our face-to-face. I revisited it with our senior IT leadership and urged for the need to educate about RSS, starting within IT itself. I'll share more with you via our internal email!

Jason Marshall said...

Hi David,It was great meeting you as well!!! I totally agree about the RSS issue its the glue that binds E2.0 together!!