Does Web 2.0 Add To Information Overload? - InformationWeek
IoT
IoT
Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
2/23/2007
02:30 PM
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
Commentary
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Does Web 2.0 Add To Information Overload?

My efforts to adopt Web 2.0 collaboration tools within InformationWeek last year were thwarted by a very simple question. I suggested we move a lot of the administrative stuff for IW.com to the Basecamp project-management tool. But a colleague put up a roadblock by asking, "Mitch, wouldn't that be just another thing I have to remember to check?"

My efforts to adopt Web 2.0 collaboration tools within InformationWeek last year were thwarted by a very simple question. I suggested we move a lot of the administrative stuff for IW.com to the Basecamp project-management tool. But a colleague put up a roadblock by asking, "Mitch, wouldn't that be just another thing I have to remember to check?"

Great question. Since I didn't -- and don't -- have a good answer to that, we just left things alone.

Here at InformationWeek we were, and are, swapping schedules, newsletter templates, phone directories, and other internal documents by e-mail. Moving all that to a Web-based collaboration tool like Basecamp would have cut down on e-mail overload, as well as solving the occasional problem when somebody accidentally uses the obsolete version of something.

But, if we moved to a Web-based collaboration tool, it'd mean that I and my colleagues would have to keep track of changes on that tool.

I know that I'm already spread pretty thin by the communications channels I have to keep on top of. There's my work e-mail account, of course. My personal e-mail account. One hundred sixty-six RSS feeds. Three instant message accounts. My office phone, my cell phone, and my work phone. A whole mess of Yahoo Groups, Google Groups, and discussion forums. Two internal workplace blogs. Second Life instant messages.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something.

Oh, yeah: Snail mail, I forgot to mention that.

How do I keep up? Consolidating helps, and prioritizing is essential. All three of my instant message accounts are accessible from a single client, Adium on the Mac, or, on Windows, Gaim. The Yahoo Groups and Google Groups all feed into my personal mail account, as do the Second Life instant messages when I'm not actually in SL. I've been slowly transitioning to Grand Central, a service which provides a single phone number to ring work, home, cell, and other phones. I only keep up with three or four RSS feeds on a daily basis; the rest I read only occasionally.

But, still, I have a lot of communications channels to keep up with, and sometimes I miss stuff. I leave my cell phone on the bookshelf by the front door at home for a week at a time, and when I pick it up I find I missed a message. I'm always feeling guilty about not keeping up with tech blogs and news, not to mention mainstream newspapers.

And it's only going to get worse. Recently, I'm finding that many of the people I need to contact for articles are on Skype. I really don't want to have to start using Skype regularly. I already have a perfectly good phone, and I don't need to add headphones to the clutter already overwhelming my desk.

Watch for an upcoming cover story in InformationWeek looking at Enterprise 2.0, how big business is adopting Web 2.0 collaboration tools such as blogs, wikis, and RSS. The story goes live on this site early in the morning Saturday, and appears in print Monday.

For the Enterprise 2.0 strategy to work, it's essential that Web collaboration tools be used to streamline communications. If they just add another channel, they'll only make the communication and collaboration problem worse.

How do you use Web 2.0 collaboration tools? How do you keep up with all the communications channels in your work and personal life? And don't forget to monitor the blog for replies to your message.

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