A Guide to the Reinvented Net

By Joe Dysart

Technologists busily reinventing the Web say schools can look forward to an Internet in which it will be much easier to collaborate, much easier to innovate, and much easier to manipulate data and software on a wide variety of Net-friendly devices.

Driving this change—a trend loosely referred to as Web 2.0—will be the rapid and widespread adoption of social networks, which schools will seize on to collaborate internally, and students and parents will use to play an active part in their school community.

Indeed, technology market research firm Forrester (www.forrester.com) predicts that organization investment in social networks will reach nearly a billion dollars annually by 2013, as schools and organizations capitalize on a trend first recognized by companies like MySpace and Facebook. Initially, schools will be able to source software for building these social networks from small and nimble boutique providers like Neighborhood America (www.neighborhoodamerica.com) and Leverage Software (www.leveragesoftware.com). Both offer tool suites that bundle the most popular facets of social networking, such as profile creation, blogs, discussion forums, and content uploading and sharing, according to Forrester.

But by 2013, expect the biggest guns in the software industry—SAP, IBM, and Microsoft—to have fully incorporated Web 2.0 tools into their product lines, says G. Oliver Young, author of the April 2008 Forrester report, Global Enterprise Web 2.0 Market Forecast: 2007 to 2013.

“SAP, IBM, Microsoft and others are already beginning to give away Web 2.0 functionality for free to drive use of their core applications and add value to engines,” Young says. “Microsoft’s SharePoint has a lightweight wiki (a network-based collaboration tool), while IBM is now offering social networking mashup technology through its Lotus Connections and Lotus mashups products, respectively.

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