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Society 3.0: Section 3.6 Excerpt - Collaborative Technologies

Following is an excerpt from excerpt from "Society 3.0", by Tracey Wilen-Daugenti
Collaborative Technologies

The water cooler of the past has shifted to new virtual venues. We have dis- cussed how people have become less PC-oriented and more mobile- friendly, but another change is also tangentially occurring. Individuals are moving away from being “place-centric”—that is, being focused on meeting people at a given location—to being more “people-centric,” or having a focus on connecting with each other online and in virtual space. People increasingly expect to be able to engage with others regardless of location and geographic boundaries.

When technology-based platform concepts were first introduced in the late 1980s, experts predicted that not only would it make a difference in productivity in the future, but the very definition of an office would be transformed (Cox, 2011). At workplaces today, technology-enabled collaborations have been made possible by uniting communications and computing technologies, such as voice mail, instant messaging, chat forums, blogs, microblogging, wikis, social networking sites, voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) telephony, and video conferencing and telepresence. Collaborative technologies provide a unique virtual platform for an unprecedented range of options and media, from personal expression via the sharing of ideas, information, videos, links, images, and audio content, to global business management and information sharing through telepresence, virtual teams, and cloud computing.

“As more people interconnect online, we increase our capacity for both independence and interdependence. Competition and cooperation both thrive in our new culture. The global Internet fosters numberless combinations of groups of every size, sponsoring mass individuality and massive participation. Cyberspace is a vast new civilization, containing both places of commerce and an already deep social life mirrored in countless conversations.”

—Jessica Lipnack and Jeffrey Stamps, Virtual Teams: People Working across Boundaries with Technology

While collaborative technologies are creating a highly networked world, often supplanting face-to-face interactions with digital alternatives, issues of “trust” and the individual, in relation to work, professional networking, and education, have arisen. Trust, privacy, and security have also become important Internet and social networking concerns. To what extent does trust factor into how new technologies impact peoples’ relationships, day-to-day work environments, and educational settings? How should higher education institutions prepare for peoples’ expectation and adoption of these technologies for learning? To answer these questions, we begin with a brief overview of some of the popular tools in the modern-day communication toolbox.

Tools of the Trade

The tools commonly used today for collaborating across time zones, cultures, and geographical boundaries have gone far beyond the familiar options of voicemail, email, and fax. Information is now exchanged using a combination of Web applications, mobile devices, and the Internet commonly referred to as Web 2.0: wikis, blogs, online publishing, Internet forums and discussion boards, instant messaging, online chats, and Internet-based TV and telephones. We also communicate through social networking sites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, LinkedIn, and YouTube); virtual environments (e.g., Web conferencing and telepresence); and cloud computing, in which remote servers execute computing, software management, and Web-based functions to provide on-demand and potentially limitless application and storage possibilities for individuals and companies.

Web 2.0: Growth and Adoption

The term Web 2.0 was coined by Tim O’Reilly, CEO of the computer book publishing company that bears his name, and Media Live International as they reassessed the state of the computer industry in the wake of the dot-com bust during the autumn of 2001. At the time, Web 2.0 was meant to explain the shift from the relatively static nature of existing Internet applications and information-gathering activities to the next leap in communication to a more dynamic and interactive Internet, where information is gathered quickly and readily accessible. The term has since evolved into a marketing buzzword to encompass a broad range of commonly used Web applications and services, such as wikis, blogs, podcasting, and the like (O’Reilly, 2005).

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