23 September 2008

Is blogging for everyone?

Blogging is an interesting tool with many applications. Even when just looking at it in the Enterprise sense, there are different ways to get value from it.

Two of the main ones are:
  1. As in internal communication of a teams or individuals current work focus, or
  2. As a way for a CEO or Marketing team to connect with the companies stakeholders and customer base.
This second one is sometimes seen as troublesome because of the two-way nature of blogs and the ability to have disgruntled customers comment their opinions publicly. Surprisingly though, this very openness seems to build a trust with readers. They see a blog with healthy debates as a sign of transparency and honesty, something many marketing executives pay millions in traditional advertising to generate for the brand.

So much so that management guru Tom Peters recently announced at the Inc 5000 Conference that "If you're not blogging, you're an idiot". Click here for a short video of Tom's thoughts, including the fact that he is probably going to stop writing books due to the success of his own blog.

Thanks to Cheiftech on twitter and Debbie Weil's blog for the reference.

Iconic Icons

Just a quick post about a great set of free icons I just found.

Mark James, a web developer from Birmingham, UK has developed a whole bunch of icons and released them under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License, so they can be used for free and even modified so long as there is a reference back to him as the creator. Nice.

You can download version 1.3 here.

Well done Mark.

12 September 2008

Enterprise 2.0...in a nutshell

I have just come across the best overview of Enterprise 2.0 that I have seen so far. It is written as a presentation by Stephen Collins at acidlabs. This is a man I need to learn more about.

His article could probably have mentioned the way the implementation of Web 2.0 tools into an organisation needs to be more organic and adaptive to the needs of the company in an evolutionary fashion, but apart from that I am very impressed.

It's a long read, but well worth it. Go on...you know you want to!

11 September 2008

Getting Web 2.0 right in Government

In the recently released National Innovation Review, Web 2.0 was mentioned as part of a slew of recommendations to encourage Government to invest with renewed effort into innovation initiatives to prepare Australia to better handle the changing global economies. Tom Worthington mentioned the report in his blog a little while ago.

It begins with an over-view of the falling R&D and Higher education investments over the last 12 years to below the OECD average of 5%.

Among the may recommendations to move Australia back into the game, page 25 of the summary document details an advisory committee be set up to help government organisations as they experiment and implement Web 2.0 technologies. It goes on to suggest that 5 significant Web 2.0 experiments should be undertaken over the next two years and be evaluated under the auspices of the Minister for Finance and Deregulation.

A good step forward I think. Several people at the ARK conference I spoke at yesterday said their department would happily do an experiment, and I imagine there will be quite a line of people with their hands up for a place on that committee. I hope the key components of Enterprise 2.0 are addressed as well as the implications of Government participating in the more public side of Web 2.0. Time will tell.

07 September 2008

Is Collaboration an emergent property?

Stephen Bounds and Frank Guerino have been discussing Cutting out KM on ActKM for the last few days, and in a recent reply to me, Stephen answered my question about collaboration as a KM technique with the definition "collaboration is simply working together to learn and create new knowledge and/or information assets". My response to him made me put some thoughts to paper that I hadn't recently tied down so I post them below so they won't be forgotten.
I used to have pretty much the same definition for collaboration until I read an article about Collaboration, Cooperation and Communucation. It started me thinking about the intersection of Collaboration and Culture and my old definition started to break down. I thought hard about what was left after one took cooperation and communication out, and decided that collaboration is actually hundreds or thousands of little decisions about why, when, how and who to communicate with and cooperate with from task to task to acheive a greater goal.

This left me a little in the wilderness until I recently read a book called Collaboration 2.0 when they declared it was an emergent property of the system of complex relationships we refer to as an organisation's culture. Not sure how robust this little theory is (my definition of culture is a little deeper than that) and I would love to hear Joe Firestone's take on it, however it did make sense in my own cases. For me alone to collaborate, I need to do so with another. To build an environment when individuals are motivated to collaborate requires far more than a management dictate, or the execution of a checklist. It requires the type of "gardening" or fine-tuning that a wiki community often benefits from. The ingredient often missing from case studies of wiki failures.
This may all sound like gibberish (and it may well be), but it is important to me because it builds the foundation for how we should actually approach Collaboration from a management perspective. I have blogged about some of these management principles in a previous post about what makes Enterprise 2.0 work.

Got an opinion about Collaboration as an emergent proprty of culture? How do you get your team/department/organisation to collaborate? Post a comment and let me know. Iron sharpens iron!

06 September 2008

Blogs as a study tool

This public blog is just one of four tools I am using to pull my Masters research together.

I started with a private wiki and then began blogging also, but was worried about anonymity issues so had access locked down to just myself and my research supervisor.

The real research is happening in NVivo, but I find that I do a lot of my thinking better in a blog than a analytic memo, so I started interchanging the two. If a memo was about a specific data or participant then in went into NVivo and was linked, but the more general thoughts about underlying cause/efect relationships, theories in the literature and in use by the participants to make sense of their environments...they end up in the blog.

More and more though, I find the challenge of writing for public consumption adds something of an edge to the process of analysis so many of the recent posts have been to this blog rather than my private one.

Today I found somebody also using blogs for research. Lilia Efimova is completing her PhD and using a blog to do it. I commented today on her post about how the messiness of blogs can help a researcher conduct their work. I will have to visit her blog more often.

Culture in rotating thirds

Today while listening to while listening to Bill Hempell's ENTC 3020 Technology & Society - Audio Podcast from the University of Tennessee, he mentioned that culture has three components:

  1. Ideological or belief systems,
  2. Social,
  3. Technological.

I am interested in these sorts of claims because they may help me build (or apply) a theory of how wikis effect the user community and vice-versa.

He posited that the Ideological always subjugates the other two, and often very quickly (ie. Pope Gregory over-riding Galileo's findings).

But he also said that over time, the Social and Technological wore away at the Ideological (ie. everyone was against cloning embryos, but once Scientists cloned Dolly the sheep from mammary tissues they were proclaimed heros in the scientific community).

He claimed that in this way, cultural systems evolved.

I'm not sure where he got this idea and how much scientific merit it has in social research, however he defined culture as a social group with manifested, symbolic knowledge. This may give me a starting point for finding out, and to be honest it is a pretty limited definition of culture.

In terms of Cultural Materialism he also said:

Technology helps to share and define cultures. They are a fundamental condition underlying the pattern of social organisation and these technical developments are the soul or prime antecedent causes of changes in society.

Just life the rest of us, technologists tend to kidnap terms for their own use and can cite a general term like "culture" in a more narrow or constrained sense without warning you they are doing so.

In response to this we can tend to start thinking these definitions lack comprehensiveness and are therefore not to be trusted. Cynicism. In some cases this has merit, especially in the physical sciences where new discoveries often refine, rather than overthrow old ones. But in the social sciences, concepts like Culture are the emergent properties of highly complex relationships between innumerable sentient individuals. Until we can map every neuron in real time (and even that isn't enough) we don't even have a handle on the basic building blocks to understand the concept of an individual, let alone culture. As a result, I think the key is to look at these theories of culture with an open and sceptical mind. Always questioning the pragmatic implications, but not ignoring the chance of higher patterns coming to bear.

I know Einstein's theory of gravity is more correct, but for most of my tasks, the Newtonian theory works just fine. To be fair, Bill Hempell's theory is talking about Cultural Systems and he doesn't define this particularly well, but I will add this to my sort list of theories encompassing technologies and culture. If you know of any others, please drop me a line!