Friday, October 06, 2006

Why people don't use collaboration tools

Here's an interesting post about why people have not actively adopted web-based collaborative tools. Anecdote: Why people don't use collaboration tools. I think the bottom line is similar to what I alluded to on Wednesday when I commented on the surprise most people are having regarding Mark Foley and/or the subject of his attention saving their instant messages.

Web 2.0 and collaborative software adoption is not something that happens overnight. There has to be a tipping point. In the post that started the discussion, Social Networking: Why are Conversationa and Collaboration Tools so Underused?, Dave Pollard suggests that unless there is an active push to have users adopt these tools now they will never be adopted.
Many people seem to believe the answer is to make the tools better and wait for the rest of the world (or the next generation) to catch up with the 2% or 20%. But I'm not so sure. The digital divide seems to grow ever wider, not narrower, and if a tool as simple, free and intuitive as Skype can't replace the telephone even for tech-savvy users, what hope is there for more complicated, sophisticated tools?
Frankly, I'm not convinced. I've always been an early adapter and based on Dave's table on Web 2.0 tool usage I fall within the 2% who use tools within the far right column (wikis, sophisticated collaboration & coordination tools and 'spaces,' etc.). Thirty years ago when desktop computers were first making their appearance the powers that be said only a few people, mostly accounting types, were ever going to need computers. Now they are everywhere. The digital divide was way wider then than it is now and yet computers are everywhere nowadays.

It's only a matter of time that collaboration tools that are only now entering into the workforace. I think those of us who are early adapters have to be prepared to help those who follow behind us. Give them a chance, they'll catch up.

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