I blog when I have an idea and nobody to talk to.
October 2005 Archives
Every people puts its own scent on its food, and it accepts change only if it can conceal the change from itself, by smothering each novelty in its scent. Optimism about change, whether in politics, economics or culture, is only possible if this premise is accepted.
A blog is definitely something you put your "scent" on. So could could we infer that corporate blogging could be a vector for change, not only for the organization but also for the author of the blog? I definitely believe so.
Shoot. I already quoted this last year! Well, never mind.
Just browsed though the Canadian EnergyInet website. In essence, it is a community of interest aimed at boosting R&D programs related to Energy. It is also a program to select the right projects to fund, which suggests a legitimate community of practice as well. And it is a social network, with casual meetings now and then. Interesting...
Just went back to visit Stowe Boyd at Corante. It was strange to see so many RSS feeds organized by topics and none by author. Strange concept. I met with Stowe, and I'm interested to know what he is up to. I read brilliant articles by Clay Shirky's, and I'd like to see his latest publications. I can't. I thought blogging was about people, and here we are with just another online magazine :...(
Richard Collin's "KM et Efficacité Collective" was a great seminar. Not only did I learn a lot from the presenters (especially the folks or Devoteam, who run a truly superb KM program), but I was very honored to host a round table discussion on the topic of social tools for collective effectiveness. My heavy weight guests were:
- Alain Lefebre, founder and CEO of 6nergies, a French social networking platform
- Yann Mauchamp, VP of OpenBC
- Stéphane Gigandet, founder of Joueb and Viabloga, two French blogging services
- Loïc Le Meur, serial entrepreneur and VP Europe of SixApart and permanent blogger, who blogged three lines on the event/li>
- Luc Fayard, VP of Groupe Test, Chief Editor of 01 Informatique , assistant professor of journalism and occasional blogger
It was real fun because those guys are so passionate about what they do and so knowledgeable about social technology that I felt like like I was back in the Internet years when I travelled back and forth from Boston to San Francisco, meeting start-up CEOs and VCs; Same people, same energy, same edge, ...and same rivalry. It's kind of refreshening, because I really was wondering where those guys had gone after all these years. Well, it looks like they're back. And they sure know how to attract attention, which is undoubtedly the key success factor for technology entrepreneurs today, and probably for all business professionals in the years ahead.
Our discussion was really interesting, and touched on some of the successes of blogs, wikis and social networking for group work. However I was a little frustrated. First because I was hosting the event and thus could not talk about my personal experience, and second, because I thought we were missing the important point, which is how these various technologies position themselves in relation to one another to increase collective effectiveness. For lack of time, also because entrepreneurs are so focused on their baby that they have a hard time taking a different perspective, we did not elaborate enough on the social context in which these tools are used. All KM-enlightened people know that it's not about document management, but few understand that it's not about people either. What it's about is social relationships. Good social tools manage feeds and links, not content.
Social networking tools manage the relationships between people expressed in simple ways. We know each other. We work in the same company. We come from the same school. We live in the same city. We both would like to get laid etc. It's pretty static altogether. When I connect with somebody on LinkedIn or OpenBC, I am in fact just stating that I would like to stay in touch with him or her, and be updated once a year or so on what he or she is doing. It's like something running in the background of my daily tasks. I use it very occasionally to ping old friends or to reach people I don't know, usually in close connection with the job market, either to hire someone, or to ask someone about a job position she might know about. The question is: how do you capture the attention of people so that they regularly update their profile. How do you bring a background tool in the foreground? I know only three answers. If by doing so the probability of finding a new job, a new date or a new client is high enough, users will do it. That's why those tools are more likely to be used in the context of a community of interest. Dating (Match.com) is one of them, but finding a job or a client is just too broad, and should be narrowed down to something that makes sense: an industry, a function or a practice (which by the way suggests that my standard résumé should be sitting somewhere on a shared file of MY server and not on the server of LinkedIn, OpenBC or whatever)
Blogs manage the relationships between people expressed in a very different way. The social network analysis of the blogosphere does not just show who knows who, but shows where the conversations take place, and what they are about. The reason that they are so successful is that blogging takes place in the foreground. If I want to engage into a conversation with someone about what I learned during Richard's conference, I do it here, because my wife or my colleagues at work don't give a damn and yet I do. Connecting with people for the simple purpose of having a conversation on something meaningful is what blogging is about. No more no less. And that's why it's such a powerful concept.
Wikis manage the relationship between people who are already engaged into a common project. So it's in essence a basic collaborative space like Microsoft Sharepoint for example. But what Wikis "do" and Sharepoint does not is to force those people to start from a blank sheet, and not from a predefined process. It forces them to think collectively, to negotiate the terms under which the project will be conducted, to elaborate their own vocabulary etc. That's why the value of a wiki is often to be found in its very structure, which models the shared vision of all participants.
The world of KM will dramatically change when those tools -as well as others- start to interoperate with one another and use most widely used editing tools like Word, e-mail or Mind Manager. I dream of the day when I will be able to use a mindmapping tool and post one branch as a public blog post, the second as an instant message to my boss, the third as a wiki page, and the fourth as an urgent request for support on a domain specific social networking platform, and all in a reasonable number of clicks. Then, collective effectiveness will no longer be questioned by anyone.