Web 2.0 and Social Networking for the Enterprise

Author: Joey Bernal
Publisher: IBM Press
Pages: 312
ISBN: 978-0137004898
Aimed at: Business and IT decision makers
Rating: 2
Pros: Written in a clear style
Cons: Only useful if you are committed to range of IBM products discussed
Reviewed by: Sue Gee

Chapter One opens with a discussion how Web 2.0 differs from Web 1.0, pointing out that in Web 2.0 users can actively participate and contribute to a website and that this fosters the establishment of a community. It goes on to discuss the technology behind this development, briefly introducing Ajax, the Dojo toolkit, JSON (compared with XML), REST, Atom and RSS and mashups. Most of these topics are covered at greater length later in the book.

Still in Chapter One, Bernal's first comment in the section Social Networking is "The lines between Web 2.0 and Social Networking are easy to blur here in the real world". I found this somewhat surprising but in view of his restricted view of Web 2.0 it does make sense. He goes on to briefly review file sharing and content collaboration, bookmarking and tagging, blogging and Wikis, and Instant Messaging.

There follows the first of the book's several IBM-specific case studies – the choice being explained by Bernal's position within IBM where he "helps to lead the IBM Software Services for the Lotus WebSphere Portal Team". The initial case study is of the GBS (Global Business Services) Practitioner Portal and how has evolved with IBM's knowledge management needs. Chapter One then rounds out with a short section on external social networking sites, including Facebook and Flickr.

The topic of the second chapter is portals and portlets and IBM's company intranet w3 and the Websphere Portal are discussed extensively. Explanations are provided of how portlets work and of portlet language options. The conclusion recommends adopting WebSphere.

Although this book is aimed at decision makers the next chapter, on Ajax, Portlets and Patterns, goes into the practicalities of writing a data service and a portlet and includes a good deal of code. This may be to indicate how straightforward it is but it still seemed an odd inclusion.

Chapter 4 "Social Software for the Enterprise" seems a more reasonable. However, it covers IBM Lotus Connections exclusively so isn't very helpful if you want to use anything else. Similarly Chapter 5, "Team Collaboration and Content Sharing" is about the portal version of Lotus Quickr and Chapter 6 on Mashups is about more proprietary software. Chapter 7, "Enterprise Search Strategies" starts with a section "Why not use Google" , which dismisses this idea, and proceeds to look at IBM OmniFind.

There follows two chapters that are more general - one on security and performance (even here IBM Rational Performance Tester gets some limelight) and the other on managing social networking and
issues of governance and book concludes with a chapter of case studies – "IBM Case Studies", of course.
I would not object so strongly to the partisan nature of the book if it was made explicit in the title or subtitle (Guidelines and examples for the implementation and management within your organisation) or the back jacket blurb. But it is only when start to read it or look carefully at the table of contents do you appreciate just how IBM-specific this book is.