07 November 2010

Behaviour in the Virtual World - Can Enterprise 2.0 Ever Succeed?

I've been researching social behaviour on the internet. Originally I intended to take a closer at a concept from a previous post, how people change their virtual personae depending upon the website. While I was surfing I came across a couple good videos that got me thinking about online behaviour and how it would impact Enterprise 2.0 initiatives?

The first video was by Clay Shirky at the Gov2.0 Summit, Clay Shirky on Technology Insight. In this video Clay goes through two case studies around participative sites: Apps for Democracy and Wikitorial. Apps for Democracy was able to engage the community by providing data sets and then asking the community to surprise them. This is contrasted by Wikitorial, which the Los Angeles Times needed to take down due to "a few readers ...flooding the site with inappropriate material".

Clay maintains that the success/failure of a collaborative/participatorial site is not dependent upon the technology but is dependent upon the type of social contract the participants feel they have. He cautions that the users motivations are unpredictable and they need to be given space to participate. He also cautions that the more "success" is predicted and advertised in advanced the more likely people are to rebel and display rogue behaviour, like those described in this second video which is a bit crude but does nicely depict differences in the way many people behave online then when in a face to face conversation.

So what does this mean for Enterprise 2.0? Will rogue behaviour undermine the conversation channels? Or will the reduced anonymity and increased connectedness (being part of the same company/agency) cause people to restrain from participating, reducing Enterprise 2.0 to little more than bulletin boards where people post information but there is little engagement in conversation?

Is there Enterprise 2.0 initiatives at your workplace? What has been your experience?

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