Sunday, August 12, 2007

Enterprise 2.0, Wikipedia and Facism

(I've become quieter than usual because my employer unleashed a bombshell: blogs for the entire staff!! That's well over 1,000 people! So I've focusing on (internal) blogging for my institution (sorry - not visible to the public), but hope to get back here more often.)

I began noticing the phrase Enterprise 2.0 before I realized it was used by Professor Andrew McAfee of the Harvard Business School. (He thought he invented the term in 2006, only realizing later that it was first used in 2001.) I began taking notice with a good article in Harvard Business School's weekly ezine Working Knowledge. Entitled How Wikipedia Works (or Doesn't), author Sean Silverthone succinctly recounted McAfee's experience dealing with Wikipedia and how it serves as a model for collaboration - with both positive and negative attributes.

It fascinated me, so I headed to Wikipedia's (now-defunct) article on Enterprise 2.0. Seeing it incomplete, I added several links, expanded the definition, and made a few more corrections, while arguing on the talk page about why the decision for deletion should be rescinded.

Despite McAfee's credentials as an author of serious work, his and others' arguments could not withstand the fury of anonymous Wikipedians, who wielded their power (which ultimately was more important than factual data) in eradicating the Enterprise 2.0 article by merging it with the more generic article on Enterprise Social Software. In his summary, Silverthorne pointed out that this represents top-down administration on the part of Wikipedia, ironically a type of adminisration which is the opposite of what Wikipedia represents. I call it fascism. :) It reminds me of what happens in certain countries which give the illusion of democracy until it becomes uncomfortable - and then take top-heavy action to roll back the uncomfortable attitudes.

What does this have to do with librarianship? It's about the hurdles of library administration in a 2.o world. For example, if a library adopts a 2.0 attitudes, adopting a flatter way of communicating, allowing decisions to be made from the botttom, but then suddenly issues a top-down ultimatum, that would really quash the functioning of the institution.

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