With the 2004 U.S. Presidential elections, blogs' growth accelerated dramatically as nearly every news network, candidate in both U.S. Senate and House of Representative races, and political pundit has their own blog competing for the publics' attention. The era of 2004 to today in fact has created a blogging industry that is pervasive in its availability of publishing platforms (USC Annenberg School of Journalism) and also in its readers for organizing and aggregating content of interest (Boeri, 2007).
Since 2004, technologies have emerged for completing text mining of blogs to find linguistic patterns in the mass of posts and also build linguistic models that represent public opinion. The use of latent semantic indexing as a technology has become prevalent as a result.
Wikis are also a form of consumer-generated media and were initially developed in 1994 with the first Wiki being introduced in 1995.
The term Wiki was chosen as it means quick in Hawaiian when one of the initial developers of this technology was visiting when he heard the term. Wikis are actually semi-structured content management systems that make it possible for organizations to quickly share content across departments in real-time. Wikis also are created to organize content hierarchically as conversation threads are defined and therefore make for content management system that records events and knowledge as they are created (Cronin, 2009). Wikis are predominantly used behind company's firewalls as the information published in them is highly sensitive. The best known publicly known Wiki is Wikipedia.Org and online dictionary anyone who opts in to the site can contribute content to. Wikipedia.org is currently published in ten languages. Another highly visited site is craigslist.org which operates on the same Wiki-based approach to posting more commercially oriented content including selling, buying, trading and job placements. Both blogs and Wikis are predicated more on the fundamentals of HTML and HTTP protocols, with the latest generations of both technologies relying increasingly on AJAX-oriented technologies for the best possible performance of their user interfaces of these technologies.
Pros and Cons of these Blogs and Wikis
There are many benefits of relying on blogs and Wikis for communicating both inside and outside an organization. The pros and cons of blogs are presented, followed by the pros and cons of Wikis (Cronin, 2009).
Encourages knowledge sharing and collaboration both with customers when used outside the company, and with employees and contributors when used inside the company.
Fosters greater internal team building
Can be upgraded more frequently and easier than newsletters at a greatly reduced cost
Relies on thin-client technology to make it possible to create entries at any time, from any location
Possible to syndicate content in a blog using syndication and blog readers to make it more valuable over time
Companies can use blogs to engage with customers on new product development ideas, solicit feedback on new products, and improve product designs
Many companies struggle with governance issues relating to the use of blogs as there have been incidents where company secrets and also company criticisms involving confidential information are aired in public.
Once a blog has been created it takes significant time commitments to keep it up and running. The creation and maintenance of a blog take an inordinate amount of time to keep fresh with valid and usable content.
Blogs can quickly degenerate into complaint sessions with customers if not monitored closely and managed well.
Blogging has become so popular that Microsoft has over 1,200 employees blogging today and requires governance and the same time a concentrated effort to make sure blogging efforts remain balanced yet do not compromise the organizations many trade secrets and technological advantages.
Low cost content management system that is easily implemented through open source components.
Thin client that can be deployed on any laptop.
Chronological order of comments allows for replicating how knowledge is created.
Consistent with AJAX-based programming and J2EE programming standards (Cronin, 2009).
Can be configured to operate behind a firewall.
While the content is chronological in structure it is not easily tagged or analyzed as traditional and more robust structured content management systems do.
Lack of support for advanced syndication technologies.
Numerous reports of "spoofing" and spurious comments on public Wikis claiming accomplishments not earned and lack of validity to Wiki posts overall has this form of collaboration on public sites under scrutiny and at times lacking credibility.
The use of blogs and Wikis needs to be considered in the context of a broader Web 2.0-based communications and collaboration strategy. Web 2.0 refers to the second generation of services available on the Interne to enable enhanced online collaboration and information sharing.
Table 1 provides an overview of all Web 2.0 technologies. It is the recommendation of this report to look at blogs not only as a collaboration platform inside an organization, but more importantly, the building of collaborative relationships with customers outside the company as well. Standards and governance would also need to be defined as would be use guidelines, yet the use of blogs as a means of communicating both inside and outside companies needs to be seriously considered. Wikis on the other hand need to be considered purely internally-focused collaborative applications for organizing and cataloging knowledge as it is created. Wikis, given the spurious and often low credibility of postings on public sites, needs to only be used in those scenarios where the posters can be verified and their contributions validated
Integrating User-Generated Content into Web 2.0 Applications
Inherent in the user dynamics of the map completed by O'Reilly and Battelle are the theoretical foundations of social networking (O'Reilly, 2005).
Specifically the architecture of participation, remixable data sources and data transformations (also known as mash-ups in Web 2.0 vernacular), and the harnessing of collective intelligence are the user-defined taxonomies are factors that have collectively served as the catalyst for the growth of social networking.
Social networking is bringing an entirely new level of participation and interactive feedback to nearly every task completed online. With the growth in social networking participation through the variety of websites and applications, the impacts to society are starting to be seen, mostly from gaps in the existing collaborative platform that supports these applications (Hatala, Lutta, 2009). First, there is the issue of authenticity and validating the true identity of someone within a social networking context. Facebook and MySpace both do not today have a highly reliable identity authentication process in place; hence the concern of many parents regarding their children participating on these sites and the risk of interacting with strangers who may or may not be who they present themselves as online. Second, social networking is bringing an entirely new level of immediate transparency to the online communication process, inviting thousands if not millions of people to communicate with one another (Jones, 2008). Blogs and Wikis were the precursor to this aspect of social networking's impact on society today. These three factors of blogs, Wikis and the emerging set of social networking applications are forcing transparency to the forefront of what is considered credible online behavior; to be oblique or not forthcoming about ones' true intentions online is to not be trusted at the least and ostracized at the worst. Third, the complex issue of how relationships are created, sustained, and how trust is eventually created is also one of the main issues that is impacting the adoption of social networking globally. Fourth, there are the concerns within organizations that their proprietary and confidential information will be either intentionally or accidentally shared through social networking sites. There are also the concerns over what is said about an organization by its employees on blogs, Wikis and through sessions on social networking sites. Google, IBM, Intel, Oracle, Microsoft and many other technology-related companies have been quick to define standards for their employees to follow for blogging specifically and social networking in general. These guidelines look to both protect valuable intellectual property and proprietary data, yet also give employees the flexibility of promoting the company and their contributions. The potential for conflicts of interest and the ethical dichotomy of having employees participate in social networking and media, known to be the new framework of global free speech, yet monitoring them either loosely through policies or rigorously by filtering, is one of the emerging paradoxes society is going to have to deal with well into the future as well (Hauser, Tappeiner, Walde, 2007).
Contrary to these limitations that the gaps in the collaborative platform that social networking is based on are the many advantages and advances in collaboration within and between organizations and companies of all types. While the initial direction of social networking vendors and sites was to seek balkanization of the global social networking user base by segmenting using their own technologies and processes for communicating, there's an increasing pressure to make all forms of social networking communicate with one another. As…