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At last the internet lives up to its early promise


When the first web site built at CERN was put on line on 6 August 1991 its aim was to enable participants to create real-time collaboration, potentially forging more open communication.

Since then, we’ve been having lots of fun creating masses of content for this beast, it has enabled more open access to information and there is no doubt that it has helped save a lot of people a fair amount of money on their car insurance.

But has it lived up to its promise?

Arguably no, because although the Internet has allowed everyone to become a publisher and a spectator, the collaborative element has been very much the poor relation.  While there are social networking sites and intranets which do, to some extent enable two-way interaction, the difficulty is that these are all micro conversations happening in splendid isolation.

Good business, medical science, research and project management of course do not run like this.  The conversations need to be linked, decisions made on sound judgement and a clear intelligence trail left behind should steps need to be retraced.  While there are many technologies that do individual bits, like TelePresence, online conferencing and networking groups, these hoover up precious time rather than creating it.

But the virtual solutions created by companies such as 6Connex, Ubivent, On24 and InXpo finally address this issue.  They bring all of the communication and social networking tools together in a single, easy to use interface that mean at last the idea that Tim Berners-Lee had nearly 20 years ago of transparent collaboration is now a reality.

The best things are always worth waiting for.

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