The Web 2.0 Collaboration Tools Every Knowledge Worker Should Know

A tag cloud (a typical Web 2.0 phenomenon in itself) presenting Web 2.0 themes. From Wikipedia.Web 2.0” has matured to a stage where it can be seen which products have “won” or “lost” in the marketplace (although as I write this, I realize there are usually a few tools in each category that are prevalent).  Much of Web 2.0 has been about social media, including social networking services and blogs, but it has also offered many different tools that can be used to collaborate on projects, and the Free Culture / Open Content movement (including Free/Libre/Open Source Software) has been leading the way on improving methods of collaboration.

It would behoove any “white collar” job seeker to learn these tools.

1. Cloud Storage & Synchronization Services – like Google Drive, DropBox, iCloud, or OneDrive.  These all work very similar, so if you learn any one of them, you can generally switch to another fairly easily.  These have the advantage of being easy to use, if you already understand file management, and they integrate very easily with Microsoft Office and other local file-based software.

2. Content Management Systems: WordPress & Joomla.  While WordPress has the greatest CMS market share, Joomla is designed more for multiple users to be able to edit a website together, whether it is for the internet or an intranet.

3. For collaborating on documentation, learning MediaWiki and Microsoft Word’s collaboration tools are important.  Microsoft Word is still dominant, but Microsoft has not truly allowed it to become a Web 2.0 tool, because they keep it tied too closely to Microsoft Windows.  On the opposite side is MediaWiki, which is what Wikipedia uses.  MediaWiki is stronger in the areas of being able to have revision control, and the ability to talk through revisions before making them. But it has been weaker in its user interface.  The good news is if you learn the MediaWiki markup language, you will be able to use much of what you learn with other wikis.  I highly recommend using Wikipedia’s Tutorial, and contributing to Wikipedia to learn how to do Wikis.

4. For software development (coding), you must learn Git, and GitHub has the most market share. One of the better tutorials for learning to use this is a series of blog entries about GitHub for Beginners.

5. For academic research (or web research in general), I highly recommend Zotero.  I describe Zotero as “bookmarks on steroids”.  It automatically takes snapshots of webpages that you add to it, so you can look at them offline, or see the old revision if they change.  It also makes creating a works cited section or bibliography of a document a breeze.  It also can handle storage of files, although its interface is not as easy as other cloud storage services.  And it doesn’t have built-in revision control.  But even with these limitations, its strengths make it a must-learn tool.

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