From this tool, it looks like Lila's Mathemagenic is 8 times more popular on the web than my $ 9 billion company's public web site. This mopsos site is 6 times less, but only 6 times less. Not bad, if you compare the investments behind.
February 2004 Archives
The Declaration of Interdependence at headmap is definitely worth reading. For headmap, the Internet has been misunderstood. Most view it as an economic engine which basically increases productivity, and early "marketplaces" on the web actually replicated marketplaces in the physical world. This was indeed my own view when I started working on "knowledge marktplaces" back in 2000.
It's an economy engine, rather than an economic engine. It hosts markets. Link economies, file sharing economies and one particular world wide garage sale. It can bring a whole complex market infrastructure to any given physical transaction. Rather than looking for cash replacements, for some mythical ecash, consider the internet itself as the exchange facilitating mechanism.
For headmap, the trend is towards less centralized eBay-type markets and more "decentralized, structured, logically interconnected, people centered and increasingly location aware" systems announced by peer-to-peer platforms like Gnutella or Napster. Hence, cash is no longer the sole exchange mechanism in a more and more interdependent world.
I basically agree. A lot of human interactions that used to be handled in a transactional mode for lack of a better way can now be handled in a community mode as it happens for example within a family. Paradoxically, the web makes you more visible, and does a much better job at managing your reputation than the physical world, because the web never forgets. I am always surprised when I type my name on Google to realize that what is out there really shows who I am and what my thoughts are, at least in the professional arena (I have the chance of having a unique name)
But headmap seems to ignore that there is a dark side to that. In the physical world, you can be relatively anonymous. If something bad happens to you, you can always move to another place and start another life. On the web, there is no such thing. Either you are present in cyberspace, and your reputation is apparent, or you are not there, and you are an alien or a suspect. I tremble when I imagine that all these data concerning me can be manipulated. They can, and they have.
An article published by Harry Scarbrough of the Warwick Business School in KM Review called "Why employees don't share what they know" (unfortunately only available online for subscribers) elaborates on four typical employee behaviors that characterize the way they share knowledge, and derives some recommendations for KM program managers.
The following table summarizes the key findings of the article:
This is interesting. I realize that I have been spending most of my time on recommended intervention #1 and to a lesser extent #2, though my company is currently concerned by #3 and #4 mostly. Like many global companies, Schneider Electric is a kind of feudal organization where the influence of country managers and department managers on the behaviors of employees under their responsibility is very high. This is especially true in periods of uncertainty like the one we are going through since the lattest reorg. in December. Employees are so scared to lose their job that their natural behavior is to bet on one particular manager they expect will be promoted, and do whatever it takes to be part of his inner circle of trusted servants. So you see communities of practice built around a core group of expert practitioners officially "on hold" while their members run around like headless chicken trying to establish one to one relationships with key managers, in the hope of obtaining a good position in the new organization.
Now I have a problem, and a big one. I don't see any executive in this company who would accept to be a role model for knowledge sharing in the current situation. This is no longer a period of peace - a time to learn together how to satisfy customers. This is a period of war - a time to execute orders from managers who already know what to do.
Please tell me I'm wrong.
Again from Sebastien, a very interesting post about the collective delusion of the Dean campaign, and the role played by technology.
Their fundamental mistake was to think that the exalted atmosphere they were breathing resulted from a generalized enthusiasm rather than from the newly lowered cost of communication with like minds.Users of social software can easily become overenthusiastic about new forms of global communication and social gathering spaces, whereas ruling elites often fantasize about monitoring the world and managing information flows as a new source of power.
On one side of the coin, those who use technology to escape control. On the other side, those who use technology to reinforce control. Both are wrong if they remain on the surface of things, but both are right if they go deeper in technology.
A gold nugget I extracted from this paper:
One of the problems we've got with social software is that it relies on a large architectural model. But this doesn't serve goal-oriented groups terribly well. I'm beginning to think that a better model is shipbuilding, where the goal is to provide groups with a place to gather and go somewhere together. It provides a way to say "We're going to use this medium, this vessel, to accomplish this goal." Ships are part space and part tool. The ways they work are quite obvious: They divide roles among the people on them. So it's much less of a generic idea than architecture. it assumes, among other things, that in many cases the group is going to come together, use the tool and then leave.What is wrong with current KM software, I believe, is their business focus -because this is where the money is. They are basically sold as power tools to managers with a budget. They emphasize the "user" side at the expense of the governance side - the "core group" who actually runs the knowledge sharing show- and implicitely or explicitely assume that the manager who pays for the software (the "client") should also be in a central position (a.k.a. "super-administrator") to control the users and store their collective knowledge. That's why there is so much emphasis on workflow design. Very clever workflows (how people should work) are wired in the software, and reinforce the idea (illusion) that software can be used to enforce new behaviors, presented as generic, but in reality decided by the management. The underlyng philosophy is that knowledge is context-independent: what has worked well in a given context (e.g. consulting firm) should work in another (e.g. medical research). This has proven wrong many times, because in knowledge related work, people vote with their feet. But control-driven managers don't see this, and software companies are unlikely to tell them. A typical example of such a business-focused strategy is described in a previous post
What these approaches fail to understand is both technical and social. Technically, there is now far more storage capability at the edges of the network than there is at the center, as P2P software has taught us, yet vendors keep on designing server-centric systems because this is more easy to sell to companies (control!). Socially, the framework and governance rules of a group, whether team or community, is not something that can be pre-designed without their involvement.
The argument over whether a community has the right to self-govern is, in many ways, the very catalyst that creates a community