Wikis, Weblogs and RSS

Knowledge@Whartonhas an interview with Philip Evans, a senior vice president at Boston Consulting Group, Janice Fraser, CEO of Adaptive Path, and Ross Mayfield, CEO of SocialText, by Kevin Werbach:

Fraser: When you look at the trends in web development, you will see a shift from what I call host-provided value — such as CitySearch (where publishers provide local events listings in different cities) — to user-provided value in websites such as (a global events calendar managed by users). There is a giving up of control. The new web applications are lightweight, single function and focused on a specific problem or interaction. When you combine that trend with creative developers who are beginning to have the energy and insight to recombine technologies in new ways, you get not the explosive growth of the 1990s, but you get something more relevant. I can’t anticipate exactly what that will be, but I see the potential for businesses to change the way they think about developing and deploying technologies…When you combine applications like blogs, Wikis and RSS feeds and put a front end on them, that’s a different vision for the Internet and knowledge-sharing and management.

Evans: Now we are seeing companies choose to work in ways that’s much closer to the original vision of the Internet being a medium that is genuinely peer-to-peer, is loosely coupled and sparks different kinds of interactions. The great step forward is not the technology itself — the blogs, etc. are wonderful, but technologically minor — but rather one of new perceptions or how people see fresh possibilities and may be willing to invest in them in new ways. We have come full circle.

Mayfield: As more and more people are on the web longer, they have more access to tools and discover new ways to interact. This means you end up with a phenomenon that is as disruptive as the open source phenomenon in software — but now you see it in the media, with blogs, with communities like Wikipedia, in politics (as evidenced by the Howard Dean campaign) and many other sectors. I think such interactions have now reached a critical mass. There may be some value to letting these tools evolve in almost a Darwinian fashion on the public Internet.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.