It’s going to be really, really good to have the CBC back. But I’ll miss the highly personal style of CBCUnlocked. The corporation’s web team would do well to take a close look at what made that site work so well.

And I’ll also miss the extraordinary efforts of Tod Maffin and the CBC Unplugged crew (who scooped the country on the tentative settlement in the very early hours of October 3).

Looking back years from now, we may well recognize this as the very first Web 2.0 labour communications campaign (although hopefully, along with personal jetpacks and in-brain TiVO, the future will also bring us a better name than “Web 2.0”).

From concepts such as aggregation, decentralized control and many-to-many communication to the actual technologies being used (including podcasting, Flickr, streaming video and – of course – blogs), CMG members deployed a staggering distributed network that knocked the corporation’s efforts flat.

What makes that fact truly remarkable is those corporate efforts were, in traditional PR terms, nothing to sneeze at: full-page ads in the Globe and Mail, regular newsletters, a dedicated web site… it had all the makings of a perfectly well-run campaign.

But it paled next to the spontaneity, authenticity and diversity of its opposition. This may be one of the biggest successes to date of the dictum “give up control to get control”.

Grad students casting about for thesis topics in industrial relations, political science or technology and society could do far worse than glomming onto the events of the past few months. And labour communicators should be even more avid.

These tools and strategies can be adopted far more easily by a grassroots, distributed organization like a large union than by the vertically structured institutions they usually bargain with. Not just for communications, either; the potential for organizing and collaborating is enormous. Web 2.0 may just point the way to Labour 2.0.

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