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Our cover story this week, "Enterprise 2.0," describes the increasing use of Web 2.0 technologies in business computing, technologies that are particularly popular among college students these days. What lessons are today's students learning from Web 2.0, and what outcomes can we expect as they move into the corporate world?
Wikipedia defines a wiki as "a Web site that allows the visitors themselves to easily add, remove, and otherwise edit and change available content, typically without the need for registration." And what's the mother of all wikis? Wikipedia, the online collaborative encyclopedia. Most people are aware that Wikipedia can be self-serving and is less than reliable as a research source. Worse yet, it can be damaging. Golfer Fuzzy Zoeller recently filed a lawsuit against a Miami law firm alleging defamatory edits to his Wikipedia page, and in 2005 journalist John Seigenthaler Sr. complained in an editorial in USA Today about a Wikipedia entry that linked him to the Kennedy assassination.
It hasn't deterred college students. According to Sorin Matei, a professor of communications at Purdue University, in a release explaining his concern, teachers are fighting a losing battle against students using Wikipedia as a reference source. "Students are addicted to Wikipedia," he said.
Lesson: Believe everything you read on the Internet. Outcome: Corporate reports that cite trivia buffs, spiritual therapists, and experts in the secret history of the United States.
Technology: File sharing
Despite continued admonitions (and litigation) by the Recording Industry Association of America, illegal downloads of recorded music over campus networks are increasing. The RIAA has stepped up its campaign against them and last week, at the request of The Associated Press, published a list of the 25 colleges to which it has sent the most copyright-violation notices so far this school year. Top of the list: Ohio University (my alma mater). Last year, the RIAA sent OU administrators 232 letters of complaint; so far this year, it's sent 1,287.
Lesson: Content is free. Outcome: An explosion of corporate presentations using theme music from Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance.
Technology: Social networking.
The popularity of social networking sites, especially among young people, is a social phenomenon: MySpace has more than 50 million visitors a month and Facebook, the student-oriented site, more than 10 million, according to comScore Media Metrix, an Internet research firm.
Lesson: There's no such thing as privacy. Outcome: More information on the corporate network about your co-workers than you wanted to know.
Traffic to the Web sites run by newspapers increased 9% in 2006 over 2005, but traffic to the blogs on those sites increased 210%, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, another Web research firm.
Lesson: See lesson No. 1. Outcome: "I haven't done much research on this project yet, but my opinion is that it will work out fine."
Technology: Streaming video
Last October, Google announced plans to acquire YouTube for $1.6 billion. In December, YouTube had 120 million worldwide visitors, up 1,972% over the previous December, according to comScore.
Lesson: Video rules. Outcome: Corporate video newsletters, Jackass style.
I'm waiting for Web 3.0: implantable computing. Let's network over an industry tip: email@example.com or phone 516-562-5326.
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