A great article by Jim Stogdill about what really makes the difference between the web environment and the enterprise environment. As we keep on hearing web 2.0 prophets announcing the coming doom of hierarchies (« The web is great and the enterprise sucks »), this is refreshing because it replaces collaboration modes into their original context
[…] the IT enterprise is about control because large businesses in mature industries are about control. On the other hand, the web is about emergence because in this time, place, and with this technology discontinuity, emergence is the low energy state.
(emphasis mine). I think this is exactly right. The web is the place where new ideas emerge from chaos, and the entreprise is the place where those new ideas can scale up into products for the many. The culture of control that we tend to shun a little too easily, putting the blame on « middle management » or « French people », follows from the contraints of large scale economics. Communities are key because they are precisely the intermediary places where emergence meets control. As such they are the natural interfaces between the low energy state of interpersonal links on the web and the high energy state of large scale systems. What they provide is a new form of economies which I like to call « economies of sense », because sensemaking is precisely the meeting point of emergence and control.
The newly published video published by Alstom on community building illustrates this point (Thanks Walfa)