Collaboration Beyond Content

NetSquared's picture

Communication on the web and evolving fast in diverse forms.   Collaboration, meanwhile, has fewer variants; it's mostly about editing content together.   True, there are many ways to collaborate on content (simultaneous editors are making strides), the variety of content is growing beyond simple text (online spreadsheets are blossoming), and the great communication tools facilitate all sorts of collaboration at a distance.   But -- with important exceptions like Second Life -- when people are building things other than content, chances are the creation isn't happening live on the web in the Wiki Way.

I think that will start to shift in 2009.   More and more people will collaborate on the web to cultivate not just content together, but also form and functionality.   Where teams now innovate locally and then promote their innovations online, they will increasingly do their creation together right on the web.   Our project Wagn (wiki on wheels), will take part in the shift, as will many other projects helping "content management" grow into "community creation."   Web conference software will grow and flourish as cost-cutting companies look to improve collaboration at a distance, and virtual world partnerships will both broaden and deepen.

All this will be fueled - as usual - by finding ways to make scary things less scary.   Wikis knocked many steps out of the process of publishing and linking content.   The same simplification is awaiting us for data structures, design, and even programming.

Trickier than the tools is building understanding of collaborative processes.   2009 will show us some new ones, but it will only be the beginning.