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Web 2.0/3.0 – Enabling The New Artisan Workforce?

[photopress:aura_sm.jpg,full,alignright]While most people haven’t really yet grasped the meaning and the potential impact of the web 2.0, some are already trying to define the Web 3.0, and along with that comes the usual litany of buzzwords – let go of control, more pervasive, more intelligent, always on, we are in control, etc. (Stephen Baker from Business Week talks about it here and here, Valeria Maltoni has a very eloquent post with a great discussion here, and then of course Phil Wainewright and John Hagel were already having this debate two years ago).

One of the things that most people forget is that we always overestimate the amount of change in the short term and underestimate the amount of change in the long term.

Let’s start by taking a look at the short term. The adoption of web 2.0 is not anywhere near a done deal – with very powerful barriers to adoption standing in the way of success. Many of those barriers were the same that the web 1.0 tools and even pre-web tools faced. In fact many of those barriers are the same as the ones described in the context of innovations as far fledged as agricultural innovations in third world countries by Everett Rogers in his seminal book on adoption of innovations – Diffusion of Innovations.

Most of those barriers are from people, culture and political nature – the hardest of all to overcome (I like how Valeria calls it the Human 1.0 ability). Web 2.0 tools and processes have the potential to change organizational structures and to overhaul existing hierarchies, causing people in charge to resist those tools and come up with smoke-screens to defeat them – think security and compliance. Web 2.0 tools are social and collaborative in nature and many organizations just do not have a collaborative or social culture. And because of the collaborative nature of the tools, even self-organized groups face the classic collaboration conundrums – the white screen syndrome (how do we get started and who in the group decides how we organize ourselves in this collaborative space), and the fact that the value of the tools goes down to zero for all team members even if only one of them decides not to adopt the tools.

So with that in mind, trying to extract what the web 3.0 will look like based on what is currently happening with the web 2.0 is an exercise in futility. In fact, many of the extrapolations have been part of the innovator’s toolbox or vocabulary for a long time. Are we not overestimating the amount of change in the short term?

On the flip side, the web 3.0 could come with new forms of organizational structures, new political realities, and a new workforce – one where a new class of artisans bring their own tools to “the” work at hand. Some thinkers have painted big picture futures, including many great sci-fi authors, but also some business thinkers and magazines like Kevin Kelly, or FAST Company, just to name a few.

So, aren’t most of us underestimating the amount of change in the long term?

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