Experiment Finds Web 1.0 Beats Web 2.0 - InformationWeek

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6/18/2008
06:33 PM
Doug Henschen
Doug Henschen
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Experiment Finds Web 1.0 Beats Web 2.0

I wouldn't have thought of this experiment had I not been goaded into it. You see, Carl and Dan had this "Odd Couple" repartee going throughout their presentation. Wearing a suit and tie, Carl said, "As a Baby Boomer... you can also reach me via email." Dan, wearing an un-tucked shirt and jeans, said, "I'm a Millennial… If you insist, I suppose I will take an e-mail address, but I'd rather that you use Twitter..."

Last week I shared a post about an AIIM study that revealed (among many points) that receptivity to Web 2.0-style social networking is highest among "Knowledge Management-Inclined" organizations. The study didn't say what percentage of firms fit that description, so I tried to get in touch with one of the report authors to find out. As an experiment, I tried Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 tools for this bit of collaboration, and good old e-mail, a decidedly Web 1.0 tool, won the race.

I wouldn't have thought of this experiment had I not been practically goaded into it. You see, AIIM's Carl Frappaolo and Dan Keldsen had this Odd Couple repartee going throughout their presentation. Wearing a suit and tie, Carl said, "As a Baby Boomer, I have very carefully established, serious online communities where we can collaborate… but you can also reach me via email."

Dan, wearing an un-tucked shirt and jeans, said, "I'm a Millennial… If you insist, I suppose I will take an e-mail address from you, but I'd rather that you use Twitter."Having heard a lot about Twitter in recent months, it just so happens I had opened my own account to get a first-hand taste of the experience. So I became a "follower" of Dan Keldsen's (and, soon, he of dhenschen) and on June 12 at 5:06 pm, I "tweeted," as they call it in Twitter vernacular, "I'm wondering what percentage of respondents in the E20 study where 'KM-Inclined'?"

As Sandy Kemsley explains in this post, Twitter is the leading example of micro blogging. Posts are limited to 140 characters, and the idea to relay very immediate, moment-to-moment updates, thoughts and observations to your followers, like, "This poison ivy is driving me nuts," or "the CEO's fly is down," or, using your smart phone, "I just landed at LAX… The movie was lousy."

I also tried the online community Frappaolo touted, posting much the same question on Dan Keldsen's Page on the Enterprise 2.0 discussion boards at AIIM's Information Zen online community site.

One day later, after checking back at both these exemplars of Web 2.0 collaboration, I was frustrated to find no answers, so I scoured around looking for an e-mail address for Dan. I couldn't find one on Dan's blog, BizTechTalk, or at AIIM.org, so I just copied the address format for other AIIM employees and sent an e-mail message directly to Dan at 3:35 pm on Friday, June 13.

Finally, on Monday, June 16 at 11:35, I had an answer via e-mail. "The KM-Inclined percentage is 24 percent, which was 105 out of the 441 respondents," Dan replied, adding many pleasantries and additional info that would have never fit into a Twitter tweet. I quickly checked Twitter and Information Zen after receiving this email and found nothing, but within a couple of hours, Dan had posted answers on these public collaboration forums as well.

Okay, the point is not that Dan is a Web 2.0 poser (though he did admit, during the presentation, that he's actually a GenXer, not a Millennial). I can think of all sorts of reasons why e-mail "won" in this scenario (if speed-to-answer is what's valued). For one thing, Dan has lots of followers and he follows lots of people on Twitter, so my question was surely lost in the weeds until I discovered and used (on 6/16) Twitter's "in reply to" feature (a newby mistake). The nature of the exchange was also well suited to e-mail and not a classic use of Twitter - though the answer was certainly relevant to many of Dan's Twitter followers and to the Enterprise 2.0 group at Information Zen. And for all I know, maybe Dan went on a sans-electronics vacation on Thursday night and didn't see my Tweet or my online community comment before he left. But the fact remains that his go-to tool on Monday morning ("if you insist") was e-mail.

Plenty of vendors, analysts and pundits at Enterprise 2.0 had nothing good to say about e-mail - its "back-and-forth attachment volley ball" and "version-control nightmare" - but my point is that e-mail remains the killer collaboration app and business productivity tool with good reason; it's fast, direct, archiveable, traceable, personal as well as public, easy-to-use and it follows one of the most venerable and proven models of communication and collaboration going - mail. The medium certainly has its flaws, but I don't see anything in the Web 2.0/Enterprise 2.0 bag of tricks that will displace it.

As for Twitter and other forms of micro blogging, it seems like archived IM chatter to me, and I agree with Loren Feldman that it will "never take hold in the enterprise."I wouldn't have thought of this experiment had I not been goaded into it. You see, Carl and Dan had this "Odd Couple" repartee going throughout their presentation. Wearing a suit and tie, Carl said, "As a Baby Boomer... you can also reach me via email." Dan, wearing an un-tucked shirt and jeans, said, "I'm a Millennial… If you insist, I suppose I will take an e-mail address, but I'd rather that you use Twitter..."

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