Detente

The most recent issue of EMC‘s ON Magazine includes an interview with me and Tom Davenport. As the article’s subhead states, "One year after debating whether Enterprise 2.0 is truly a transformative technology or just an incremental evolution of collaborative tools, Andrew McAfee and Tom Davenport resume the conversation."

Conversation is exactly the right word. Previous debates between me and Tom have featured a fair amount of disagreement, and perhaps a bit of talking past each other. This one felt different, even though he and I continue to view the ‘toolkit’ of Enterprise 2.0 in dissimiar ways. I see the constituent technologies as someting new under the sun, and Tom sees them more as incremental improvements to the digital collaboration tools that have available to companies for a long time. 

That difference in viewpoint, however, didn’t matter much. Tom and I agreed pretty violently on a few important points: the need to be circumspect about the power of these technologies to transform organizations and render obsolete traditional notions of ‘management’ and ‘hierarchy,’ the benefits of emergent over imposed approaches to communicating knowledge and expertise, and the need for ‘gardeners’ or ‘curators’ who keep the digital environments tidy and usable over time. 

I’m not exactly sure why we’re agreeing so much more now than in the past, but it’s a welcome development. As I wrote in my first blog post about Tom’s views, he is one of the most insightful and experienced thinkers about technology’s impact. It’s been a little uncomfortable finding myself on the opposite side from him on an issue I find important. So I was glad to find myself nodding my head a lot as he spoke during the interview.

After the notebooks were put away and the tape recorder turned off, Tom said to me "This was a lot more fun than disagreeing." I couldn’t agree more. 

The same issue of ON magazine also has some interesting stats on E2.0 viewpoints and penetration rates collected by AIIM International and summarized by Carl Frappaolo. Check them out and tell us what you think of them. And/or leave a comment telling us what you think of the state of the debate between on Enterprise 2.0.