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Microsoft SharePoint the world’s leading business collaboration software with over a million users. However, its Web 2.0 capabilities– that is, its integration with social media and blog/wiki tools– are scrutinized.

The quality of its 2.0 tools are most commonly critiqued. That’s not what I’m writing about today. I’d like to instead discuss the difference in how people interact with Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 interfaces; I argue that SharePoint 2007’s 1.0-esque interface may be a stumbling block to 2.0-literate users.

For starters, brief definitions of “Web 1.0” and “Web 2.0.” You should know these terms are not exactly official, but they’re widely used and accepted to describe the “old and new internetz.” The web is currently transitioning from a 1.0 to a 2.0 environment.

  • Web 1.0: When the web was used as a monologue. A business gets a site and communicates TO their customers– but the online communication is one-way, from site to reader. Commenting and other types of reader-to-site or reader-to-reader communication (social networking) didn’t exist– unless you were playing Yahoo! Games. Interfaces lacked a lot of conveniences. For example, there were very few mouse-over windows or drop-down menus, and clicking on anything usually meant the page had to reload.
  • Web 2.0: It’s all about the dialogue. Collaboration and social networking (user-generated content) drive Web 2.0. A business gets a site and communicates WITH their customers via two-way communication using multiple networks. Customers use Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and company sites to interact and comment to the business and to other customers about problems or praises. Interfaces are widely functional, and usually include drop-down menus, click-and-drag functions, etc. Clicking on things usually doesn’t require the entire page to reload.

Now that you have a general picture of the two kinds of interfaces, I’ll elaborate on my concern with SharePoint. The software operates in a Web 1.0-esque interface. Clicking on anything within SharePoint requires a page reload. Lists of business tasks cannot be checked off with a simple click, but rather a series of reloads. Likewise, documents cannot be dragged to different folders, but also require a series of reloads. Microsoft Outlook, the email system integrated with SharePoint, still lists each email reply as a separate message (RE: Polka-Dot Umbrellas) instead of conglomerating them into a single thread.

To a person used to 2.0 interaction, using a 1.0-type SharePoint can be frustrating. The same can be said of recording a TV show with a VCR– most of us are no longer familiar with operating a VCR, and doing so can be frustrating. While SharePoint is still arguably the best in its enterprise collaboration class, I believe it has a growing disadvantage due to its interface. I’d love to hear feedback on this claim. As I’ve stated, different individuals have different levels of experience with 1.0 and 2.0 technology. Since I’m mainly literate in 2.0, I realize my concern is partially backed by personal frustration.

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