>Web 2.0 and Enterprise Architecture

>Web 2.0─”a perceived second generation of web-based communities and hosted services — such as social-networking sites, wikis, and folksonomies — which aim to facilitate creativity, collaboration, and sharing between users. The term gained currency following the first O’Reilly Media Web 2.0 conference in 2004. Although the term suggests a new version of the World Wide Web, it does not refer to an update to any technical specifications, but to changes in the ways software developers and end-users use webs.”

“Web 2.0 websites allow users to do more than just retrieve information. They can build on the interactive facilities of “Web 1.0” to provide “Network as platform” computing, allowing users to run software-applications entirely through a browser. Users can own the data on a Web 2.0 site and exercise control over that data. These sites may have an “Architecture of participation” that encourages users to add value to the application as they use it. This stands in contrast to very old traditional websites, the sort which limited visitors to viewing and whose content only the site’s owner could modify. Web 2.0 sites often feature a rich, user-friendly interface based on Ajax, Flex or similar rich media. The sites may also have social-networking aspects.”

“The concept of Web-as-participation-platform captures many of these characteristics. Bart Decrem, a founder and former CEO of Flock, calls Web 2.0 the “participatory Web” and regards the Web-as-information-source as Web 1.0.” (Wikipedia, including Tim O’Reilly and Dion Hinchcliffe)

From a User-centric EA perspective, Web 2.0 has implications for all perspectives of the architecture:

  • Performance—enterprise’s results of operations will be enhanced by the ability to do more (in terms of automation, applications, and collaboration) over the web.
  • Business—they way organizations conduct their process and activities will be simpler and more collaborative through a more user-friendly web and participatory web (for example, many business are developing in-house blogs, wikis, and web portals, like SharePoint.).
  • Information—the web is transformed from a source of information to a mechanism for controlling, updating, and even analyzing information (for example, viewing financial information, updating account information, and running portfolio analysis tools).
  • Services—applications are available on demand on the web and are available as interoperable services rather than monolithic stovepipe systems (i.e. SOA); additionally, user can participate in the development of the applications themselves (for example, Linux).
  • Technology—while Web 2.0 itself is not based on new technologies, the new participatory uses of the web are spurring technology advances in accessing the web and its more profound social networking and collaborative capabilities (for example with mobile media devices such as PDAs and cell phones).
  • Security—with greater user participation on the web and the ability to control data and applications, there of course is greater security vulnerabilities (for example, identity theft).

Architects need to recognize and build the power of Web 2.0 and its participatory and collaboration capabilities into their target architectures and transition plans.

>The Dunbar 150 and Enterprise Architecture

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We need a network of people in our life (family, friends, and colleagues) to accomplish most anything meaningful, including building an enterprise architecture to grow and mature an organization.

But is there a limit to how many significant others we can have?

The Wall Street Journal, 16 November 2007 reports that “several commentators and news articles have cautioned that there is a natural limit to a friendship circle. They typically cite the so-called Dunbar number, 150, as the ceiling on our personal contacts.”

However, with social networking sites and other technological means of keeping in contact (cell phones, email, instant messaging, and so on), we are looking at an expansion of our ability to connect with others and the numbers of others we can stay in contact with.

Some have questioned, whether as you increase the number of casual relationships, it comes at the expense of those closest to you—“those you turn to when in severe distress.”

Others have questioned whether technology really enables close relationships. In other words, technology helps communicate and stay in contact with larger numbers of people, but to be close “you really do need to be touchy-feely with people.”

What social networking sites do help with is “less-close friendships and acquaintances,” those “at the outer edges of your friend group…people who you don’t talk to regularly…but your likely to swap tales, or more, should your paths cross…you have a history.”

The Dunbar 150 limit on effective social interactions seems more limited to a time when people were less mobile and were confined to a single village or a lifetime job. “But modern man moves among several groups in a fragmented world.” New ranges for maintaining effective relationships are between 100 to 300.

In the end, while cheap and readily available communication can “enrich your life wih more contacts,” real relationships require more than just communication, such as mutual investments of time, giving (sacrifice), trust, and respect to name a few,

Clearly, a large undertaking like building and maintaining an enterprise architecture (that influences organization-wide decision-making, serves as a true planning mechanism, and is utilized for IT governance, cannot be done by a single architect or by a staff of architects. It is an endeavor that requires outreach and communication up and down and across the organization as well as reaching outside for best-practices and looking at market trends. To build an EA for large organization, I think the Dunbar 150 may be a limit easily exceedable by a good chief enterprise architect.