Chapter 7. Choosing and Using Technology

Physically scattered groups that need to converse have many options today. This chapter describes some of the networked technologies that can be used to fit the descriptions and serve the purposes of different teams, business units, and populations. These technologies are, indeed, tools that must answer the needs of the groups and their individual members if they're going to be used by them. Knowledge networks exist to get things done, and once they have set their goals and agreed on their common motivation, they need the conversation-enabling tools that will best fit their particular needs.

The tools that support group conversation on the Net fall into familiar genres: email, chat, instant messaging, message boards, and the more recent arrivals of real-time meeting interfaces and peer-to-peer (P2P) applications. Intranets and portals are the underlying technical structures through which these communications tools are often provided within the organization. It's through intranets and portals that access to relevant information is also provided. The tools we describe in this chapter will be used in combinations. They will be configured differently for different groups. They will be customized by individuals, and as more power comes to portals and P2P applications, they will be adapted constantly to the changing needs of their user populations. Our descriptions here are but snapshots of a fast-evolving marketplace of communications software. ...

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