Politics of the 2.0 Meme Courtesy of Wikipedia

July 25th, 2007

Just when “Web 2.0” lost all meaning and people stopped saying it, along comes “Enterprise 2.0”. Brad Feld grudgingly acknowledged that the latter term has become entrenched, but not everyone agrees, as shown by a really interesting piece in Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge e-newsletter both about the term and the mechanics/politics of Wikipedia itself.

Harvard professor Andrew McAfee used (coined, says Working Knowledge) the term Enterprise 2.0 and a reader posted a stub about it on Wikipedia. Someone else nominated the stub for deletion as a “neologism of dubious utility” (as if that’s ever stopped anyone).

The stub was deleted by an administrator, then re-added as a longer article. That article was also tagged for deletion despite conforming (again according to HBS) to Wikipedia’s editorial and content standards. After heated discussion among Wikipedians during which Prof. McAfee came to believe that the pro-deletion camp simply didn’t like the 2.0 name, an administrator determined that the article met all standards and should be kept.

We can hope that Enterprise 2.0 avoids the pitfalls of Web 2.0, because the end result was that after re-posting, a Wikipedian heavily truncated the article and changed the title, saying to McAfee “It’s a free-form, open environment. If you don’t like my changes, make your own”.

Enterprise can certainly benefit from the wisdom of crowds approach (check out Atul Gawande’s book Better for an example of what happens when a hospital asks its staff how to enforce hand-washing practices), so the “2.0” approach makes a lot of sense. It’s still a tired name, though.

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