Getting to the bottom of online collaboration
Help us plumb the depths
Reg Technology Panel According to that fount of all online knowledge Wikipedia, the first online bulletin board system was created in 1973 in Berkeley, California. Appropriately enough (for the purposes of this article anyway), it was called Community Memory, in recognition that its raison d’être was to serve those who accessed it.
Over three decades later, we have the Internet to thank for a veritable smörgåsbord of communications and collaboration technologies. Email may be dominant but it is only one of many mechanisms, from SMS on mobile phones to the newer kids on the online block, such as blogs and social sites like Myspace, Bebo and indeed Wikipedia.
Trouble with such communities is, what happens when you disconnect? As the holiday season draws to a close, I don’t need to explain the concept of email backlog fatigue – but at least emails sit and wait for your return. Online message boards show no such respect, however, and collaborative environments like Facebook and Second Life almost demand that you check in from time to time, else you might be considered dead. Twitter is perhaps the ultimate in online engagement technology, but is not for the faint hearted – you can send “what I’m doing right now” messages (that’s “tweets”, folks) in a variety of ways, to your own merry band of seemingly always-connected twitterati.
Which leads to our latest mini-survey. Whether you think the Internet is an immersive environment in itself, or all such mechanisms are “just a tool” depending on where you are and what access technology you’re using, we’d love to hear from you.