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Technology What to Know About Web 2.0 "Web 2.0" has been a big story for business lately. The term, now frequently used in the media, refers to the Internet as a growing constellation of sites where users can share a variety of information, whether they're exchang- ing videos on YouTube, building a common base of knowledge on Wiki- pedia, networking on MySpace or LinkedIn, or sharing knowledge via blogs and podcasts. In its Web 2.0 incarnation, the Internet has become a prominent medium for personal interaction. Web 2.0 phenomena are trends that business schools can't afford to ignore, says Andrew McAfee, an associate professor at Harvard Business School. McAfee's research focuses on technology, including the effects Web 2.0 promises to have on business. Younger students have become reflexive users of social net- working sites and will expect to use these tools to facilitate their interac- tions with faculty and employers, says McAfee. They will want to read faculty blogs and use collaborative technologies, such as wikis, to build and share knowledge. Business schools that don't embrace this technology "may make students feel as if they're in the Dark Ages," he says. In fact, given the increasing use of online social networking sites, McAfee sees many student users turning away from "private channel technologies," like e-mail, and more to "public channel technologies" 64 BizEd JULY/AUGUST 2007 business education. In March, INSEAD—which has campuses in Fon- tainebleau, France, and Singapore—announced that it would be open- ing a virtual campus on SecondLife (www.second SecondLife is a three-dimensional virtual world, built and owned by its now more than 6 million residents. SecondLife residents A class in session at INSEAD's virtual SecondLife campus. like MySpace. "In e-mail, you send a message and it's gone; afterwards, no one knows what you were e- mailing about," says McAfee. "Users of sites like MySpace are turning to public platforms, where you broad- cast to the world your activities and intentions. I know I'm not comfort- able with that, but the younger gen- eration has grown up with it." At least one business school has tapped into this phenomenon to find out where it might lead create online personali- ties, or avatars, to inhabit Linden, SecondLife's virtual con- tinent. While there, they can meet with other residents at virtual gath- erings. They also can spend virtual Linden dollars to purchase virtual property and build virtual houses. Companies such as Wal-Mart, Intel, and American Express have even opened SecondLife stores to serve Linden residents. Toyota has opened a Scion dealership on the site; the Reuters Group has established a vir- tual SecondLife news bureau. Conference Board Holds Virtual Meeting on SecondLife In June, The Conference Board Council of Telecommunications Executives, in coop- eration with Columbia Business School's Institute for Tele-Information, held its first "virtual" meeting on SecondLife, a three-dimensional online continent. The meet- ing was a hybrid—half was held in real space, half in virtual space. To set up the meeting, the Council was assisted by IBM, which has held its own employee retreat on the site and is building a business helping companies such as Sears and Circuit City develop virtual stores to serve SecondLife "residents." The Conference Board took part in this experiment in response to the growing number of businesses that are establishing a presence in the SecondLife environ- ment, says Edward Roche, manager of The Conference Board Council of Tele- communications Executives. The meeting featured presentations from a variety of speakers, including SecondLife creator John Lester of Linden Labs. Because half the meeting was held online, the council was able to invite experts to participate from as far away as Finland, Japan, Malaysia, Scotland, Germany, Chile, and France.

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