Socialtext is one of the smarter companies we cover in the enterprise space. The people there have an intellectual bent. Co-Founder Ross Mayfield is a thought leader and one of the original pioneers of the social Web. He's one of the thought leaders. And the CEO, Eugene Lee, is one of the more eloquent people we run across in the interviews we do.
Socialtext came into the market in 2002, long before blogs bloomed and years ahead of what we know of as the real-time web.
As a result, they have an established client base. They were one of the first, if not the very first, to offer wiki technology as an enterprise product.
Today, they announced a new version of its software: Socialtext 4.0. It's a far cry from its original technology. This is the era of the real-time web. And Socialtext has had to adapt.
Socialtext has done a pretty decent job of keeping up with the pace, which seems to be quickening in the Enterprise 2.0 space. Most noteworthy is its new group capabilities. It's like a threaded, real-time stream. Groups can be organized so there are main group hubs with additional groups that come out of it. Group can be public or private. We are seeing this kind of approach more often from companies like Yammer, Socialcast and Jive Software.
It just makes sense. A real-time stream is useless if it is one river of news. You need to channel the real-time flow so you can see its context. It's why people use desktop products like Tweetdeck to follow Twitter. By setting up channels, you can follow specific communities and keep in context the real-time stream flowing by you at any one moment. In the enterprise, the needs are different. You need more capabilities so groups can interact and people can move quickly between conversations.
Mayfield takes it a step further. He says Socialtext is making it ridiculously easy to add groups. Of course he has a vested interest in promoting Socialtext. But true to his roots, he traces the concept back to the early days of the social Web, providing context for where we are today:
"Back around the time in which social software was defined and when we started enterprise social software, Seb Paquet introduced the notion of Ridiculously Easy Group-Forming.
Weblogs have a potential for group-forming like no other medium. However I'm convinced that much of it to this day remains untapped. I'd like to explain an idea that I have been bouncing around for a while. It might well be a reformulation of what others have said previously. I believe that implementing this properly would give a nice boost to the blogosphere's social aggregation capability.
Basically the goal is to push the threshold for group creation to an unprecedented low. I think Reed's Law should be refined to state:
The value of a group-forming network increases exponentially with the number of people in the network, and in inverse proportion to the effort required to start a group."
That's a context for anyone to consider in the enterprise space these days.