If you’ve spent any time in front of a computer in the last two years you’re likely to have come across a variety of new tools being touted, sometimes loudly, as the ultimate solution for any business. Often under the dubious moniker Web 2.0, this menu of tools ranges from blogs and podcasts to RSS feeds and Wikis.
If these gadgets bring to mind images of giddy teenagers and personal diaries you’re not alone. A recent Information Week survey found “half of business technology pros are either skeptical about blogs, wikis, online social networks, and other new Web tools, or willing — but wary — about adopting them.”
In an effort to shed some light on this area, we drafted a brief Web 2.0 lexicon of sorts. Use the links and examples in these definitions as stepping stones to explore these tools. But, as with any Web 2.0 application, we’d like to collaborate with our readers to add and refine this list. What new Web 2.0 tools is your business using?
Blog: short for “weblog”, a blog is simply defined as a web page that contains time stamped entries in reverse chronological order, with the most recent entry on top. Blogging’s main appeal is in the software services like WordPress, TypePad, etc. These services are usually free and dont’ require a great deal of computer expirence. No longer reserved for computer programmers with knowledge of HTML, now anyone with an Internet connection can join in the conversation.
Blogroll: a list of blogs or websites recommended by the blog’s author. Be sure to visit these sites; you’ll get a sense for the what blogger regularly reads and these sites are typically related to the authors’ topic in one way or another.
News aggregation: think of it as your inbox to the Internet. Aggregators gather information from multiple web sites, typically via RSS (see below). An aggregator can you save you time as you surf the web. Rather than constantly visiting your favorite websites individually and checking for new content, and aggregator can pull unread content from an infinite number of sources and compile the relevant materials into one, easily managed source. Visit Bloglines and Google Reader for examples of popular RSS aggregators. Setting up an aggregator is as easy as creating an email address and it’s the best way to monitor what’s being said about you, your company, topic, or industry.
Podcasts: Podcasts are simply the audio version of text-heavy blogs, with regularly updated clips, usually available via a podcast catcher like Itunes. Despite the name, you don’t need an Ipod to listen to podcasts. You can play podcasts directly through your desktop speakers.
RSS: stands for Really Simply Syndication. A universal format that allows other websites, such a news aggregator, read and compile information. Take a look at CNN’s RSS page for an example of this tool in action. This allows users to track new content on the Internet based on keywords or topics.
Social bookmarking: just like you’d bookmark your favorite webpage, social bookmarking is the collective equivalent of adding your favorite webpage to your personal bookmarks. Sites like DIGG and del.icio.us allow users to see what websites and blogs are popular among a large pool of people. Click here for a full list of social networks sites.
Tagging: keywords that describe the content of a particular blog post, podcast, or website. Tagging helps organize web 2.0 content so that it’s easily searchable. An example of tagging is right here on this blog. At the end of every post, we categorize the topics within the post – as seen on the categories list on the right hand column.
Wikis: any system that allows for collaborative editing and publishing. Google Docs, which allows for multiple users to edit the a document at the same is an example of a Wiki in its most basic form. Wikipedia is the shinning example and likely the reason the World Book Encyclopedia sales are falling flat. A word of caution though, Wikis can be created and edited by anyone. Generally, the wisdom of the crowds theory holds true, but it’s important to check the content against scholarly journals, news outlets, etc.
Does your company use social networking sites to share ideas? Do you allow employees to blog on behalf of the company? How about a weekly podcast from the CEO? If you have a Web 2.0 story to share, join the conversation by posting a comment.