Read an interesting post by Shel Hotlz, who suggests that corporate websites (using Fast Company as an example) are adopting many of the social network tools into their sites – in essence becoming a mash-up of network and website. No surprise there, really, but what is interesting about this trend is how organizations seeking to foster an online conversation with fans and customers are trying to broaden their net. It’s pretty clear most companies can benefit from having a site that allows their customers to provide input, comments and ideas – and even to vote on what companies should focus on (like Dell’s Ideastorm crowd-sourcing site.) But does it make sense to open the door even wider and encourage casual fans and observers to share their ideas and opinions. To do that, you need a website that is easy to find – rather than a specific corporate web address – and compelling. This takes us back to two of the unsolved conundrums of the Web 2.0 environment – do you build your own network or do you try to piggy-back on existing networks? And do you remain exclusive in an effort to drive relevance and focus, or do you open the doors wide to avoid insularity and irrelevance? We’ll have to wait and see.

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