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October 5, 2009

Enterprise 2.0: The phrase, the concept, the time scale

Terrific post by Euan Semple (responding to a post by Stowe Boyd) about why he does not love the phrase “Enterprise 2.0”: “…it’s too narrow, too corporate and too managerial!”

The name will work itself out, as names do. I have problems with entire “2.0” meme — I like that it calls attention to important changes, but am uncomfortable about its implication of discontinuity. But, the phrase has stuck, and it has had the advantage of unsticking lots of thinking. The same for “Enterprise 2.0.” I understand Stowe and Euan’s discomfort, but all names are inadequate, and “Enterprise 2.0” gives some businesses a frame and a justification for thinking about changing. The phrase’s author, Andrew McAfee, probably agrees the name is imperfect, and probably agrees with much of what Euan says about the changes awaiting business. [Disclosure: Andrew is a Berkman Fellow. And Euan, Stowe, and Andrew are all friends of mine. And, while I’m at it, Euan’s post positively cites something I once said.]

Beyond Euan’s discussion of the phrase itself, he maintains a Web Exceptionalist and Web Utopian position, albeit he is a Slow Utopian. Not that Euan’s slow. On the contrary. But he believes the changes businesses are going through are deep and will take decades to accomplish. After all, as he says, “‘the Internet has been around for the best part of 30 years and most people don’t know what the back button on their browser is for!”

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