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There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch‘ – this is an old adage. The acronym ‘free lunch’ was popularized by the mid 19th century American Saloon keepers who would offer free food to anyone who bought drinks from them. This inducement was merely to attract drinkers as customers would end up paying much more than the price of the food by the way of the price of drinks that they were obliged to consume.

This fits very well to our age as well. Everything that is touted as free these days isn’t really free. You’re always exchanging something for it, whether be it your time or inflated prices for something else. There is always a hidden cost attached to the freebie.

Let us look at a few examples here.

The local grocery store gives you free product samples. This is actually an enticement for the customer to try new products and a great product test for the company. So as a consumer you are actually giving away product familiarity in exchange.

When you fill out a form and get some product freebie in the mail, you not only get some free stuff but also whole lot of advertisement for the product, numerous discount coupons for the product and several reminders to buy the product. The reason a business gives away a freebie is to get repeat business and you are actually giving away some of your mindspace to the product.

Looking at World Wide Web, we find that every minute thousands of searches are carried out on Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines for free. Through these searches, the search engines are able to gather search terms that they use to refine their business model and advertising system.

Millions of hours are put into facebook for free by users worldwide. All the users’ personal information is used by Facebook to direct advertisements to these users. So this is serving as a great advertising revenue for the company. As a consumer we are trading our personal information and privacy.

Nothing is free, there is a cost of free and you are definitely paying the cost, though not directly out of your purse.

The concept of Minimalism always seems to intrigue me.

Minimalism describes movements in various forms of art and design, especially visual art and music, where the work is set out to expose the essence, essentials or identity of a subject through eliminating all non-essential forms, features or concepts. (from Wikipedia)

This philosophy and principle of Minimalism can ideally be extended to possibly everything. And so we have Minimalism in art and design, Minimalism in music, Literary Minimalism, Minimalism in living, Minimalism in structured writing, Judicial Minimalism, Minimalism in computing and many others.

The underlying thread in all of these is the need for Simplicity. The idea is to strip everything down to its essential quality and achieve simplicity. The Minimalism in living is something that always catches my attention. This concept can sometimes be confusing. I’ve seen people get rid of their stuff as an attempt to adopt minimalism into their lives, then get sad and lonely without their things and then just end up buying new versions of them. Reducing your physical possessions will not achieve everything. Minimalism really is all about assessment of your priorities so that you can strip away the excess stuff – whether it is the possessions or the ideas or the relationships or even any activities – that don’t bring value to your life.

The goal should be to adopt the practices that work for you and help you live a happier life. Minimalism should be approached thoughtfully and in accordance with your aspirations.

Over the past decades, a whole set of new technologies have appeared on the internet. These allow the users to do more than just retrieve information, they have changed the face of world wide web by allowing information sharing and collaboration. The term Web 2.0 was created to describe these tools and technologies.

Andrew McAfee coined the term Enterprise 2.0 to highlight how these same technologies could be used in business organizations to track and share the ever growing amount of enterprise content. The emerging social software platforms are being now widely used within companies or between companies and their partners or customers.

Enterprise 2.0 technologies include the following:

  • Social Networking
  • Blogs
  • Wikis
  • Social Bookmarking
  • Really Simple Syndication (RSS)
  • Podcasting
  • Mashups
  • Social Voting/Ranking
  • Web Services

Businesses can accomplish a lot through Enterprise 2.0. A few examples include the following:

  • Increase Collaboration
  • Raise Awareness
  • Increase Agility/Responsiveness
  • Faster Communication
  • Increase Innovation
  • Reduction of IT Costs
  • Accelerate Brokering of People

There is risk associated with adopting any new technology, and Enterprise 2.0 is no different. These are some of the associated risks:

  • Security Threats – When you open up your enterprise to share information, you also expose your infrastructure to rogues, misfits and malcontents.
  • Losing control of content
  • Losing IT control – Enterprise 2.0 is decentralized and ad hoc, it puts more control in the hands of the user and less in the IT department. Some vendors are addressing control concerns by providing a dashboard that gives you control over which employees can access and use which tools, and this could help reduce IT fears.

The fact is, Enterprise 2.0 concepts are gaining credibility. More than 800 people attended the recent Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston, which included speakers from IBM, Microsoft and Cisco, and a host of other smaller players. Enterprise 2.0 is definitely getting a lot of recognition and supporters across companies and will go a long way in optimizing the businesses.

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