Blogs, Wikis and Blokis
Denham, others and I have discussed the pros and cons of blogging in relation to wikis before, and I feel the need to respond to this thread as well. The comment I posted on KnowledgeBoard was:
Wiki's seem to need a centralized point of access and thus, by implication, control. Especially the control part, and the resulting questions of (group)-ownership are an issue to me. Basically this is a question of trust. Is the group contributing to a Wiki a community or not?
So I can see localized teamwikis, but no real collaborative structures of a larger size. I think the Wikis on the internet now, in part feel way to anonymous to me (no community feel --> no collaborative feel) or seem dominated or maintained by only one or two people, usually the ones that started the wiki. For example I think of KmWiki as "Denhams Wiki", not because Denham is too dominating, but because he's the only visible exponent of the Wiki I know of.
Trust is also an issue in using the information contained in a Wiki. I do not know who contributed what, nor what the group of contributors looks like. How am I to judge/place trust in the information in the Wiki. And how do I judge then that there is reason enough for me to edit that information. Again this is due to lack of community feel.
That this trust issue (who is part of the 'team'?) is very important to me, maybe because of a Dutch cultural trait: compromise. Basically everything in the Netherlands is arrived at through compromise. This due to population density, no one group ever to be able to set the political agenda alone for even a very limited period of time, and because of the history of watermanagement. However big the rewards of compromise (one would be a consistent and stable foreign policy no matter who's in the government) it also often means, especially in matters of less significance, that no-one recognizes themselves anymore in the outcome. And as a result no-one feels responsible anymore either.
The distinction between watering down to a situation of compromise with no-one feeling attached to the outcome, and reaching a collaborative result of shared understanding, all contributors feel attached to, is the community factor and the trust within it. Visibility of the originators of contributions might help along this way.
As to blogs. To me the main value of my blog is a) charting my own learning process, along with the sources and voices that contributed to it b) the new social networks and structures that result from the conversations around blogposts and c) thinking out loud in front of a public. So blogs conform to a very personal agenda, even though it sparks collaborative spin-offs. Wikis on the other hand seem to imply that none of the contributors holds such a personal agenda, but only a collaborative agenda. I think that is never the case. Blogs showcase 'unfinished products', the threshold for me to contribute to a Wiki would be having some sort of 'finished product', at least from my personal viewpoint. And then have the other participants in a Wiki augment, change, alter or delete that. Then again that would probably be more like discussion then like collaboration.
So a blog/wiki hybrid seems like an interesting idea to me. On the one hand I get to keep my own learning history and get to keep my on-line identity, on the other hand I get to contribute to collaborative projects. My visibility and those of others would be a step to seeing me as a part of community with enough trust build up to view the results as something we all have a stake in. And it also recognizes that everybody still holds a personal agenda. One on which collaboratory work is one of the items. That would to me reflect how collaboration goes on in the 'real world' more as well.
A perfect example of the latter would be the CEN-Workshop to write the Guide to Good Practice in KM. There I feel part of a community and therefore have no reservations in contributing to the collaborative process. My own personal agenda is that this guide will help me with getting clients to understand what KM could do for them, and what it takes and does not take to get there. Also I am sure that all other participants have their own personal agendas on this as well. That they have such a personal agenda also reassures me that they will contribute to the whole: I can see that they have a stake in the end-result.2 Comments and 1 Trackbacks | Permalink
I've made a decision. I want to get rid of Microsoft on the system here at home that functions as a server. Now I have no clue as to how to get from A (running Microsoft) to B (running no Microsoft), but I decided that ignorance should be no excuse. And that's where I hope you come in.
I've created a new blog, called Jettison, where I will try to chronicle my way from Microsoft to Linux. Certainly at the start I will post a lot of questions there. In the hope that some of you are able to provide answers, or at least clues and pointers towards answers.2 Comments and 2 Trackbacks | Permalink
Blogging Beyond Branding
I've written about Beyond Branding before (and before), and do so now again. Why? Because this group of people tries to actively bring about change in the corporate world, emphasizing the things that I care about in Knowledge Management. And because they now have a blog as well:0 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
That post was based on an article I read in Filosofie Magazine. In the last days I've read the actual dissertation, and this brings me to some more reflection.
First of all the book gave some more clues as to what Monsters are. I've described Monsters here as (technological) innovations that conflicted with or crossed existing cultural boundaries. This picture now needs refining. Monsters are those things that seem to belong to two cultural (sub)categories that are regarded as mutual exclusive within a culture. (e.g. nature and culture)
Important here is the notion that being a Monster is not something that is a property of the Monster, but the side-effect of having a set of symbols and categories that make up your picture of the world.
We all need such a categorized worldview, to be able to recognize patterns and learn from experiences. This has two side-effects. These categorisations tend to be conservative (otherwise you would have to change your worldview with every incident), and second it draws lines between things. These lines help identify risks. If something fits into your picture, it is likely you know how to handle it (with the rituals or habits connected to the corresponding category). If it does not, it might be something dangerous.
Basically, as soon as you draw lines somewhere (this is a tree, this is a shrub) you get into trouble when you encounter things that are on the border of such categories (is it a small tree, or a large shrub). Often these anomalies can be easily put into an existing category after some consideration (being put in their place), but sometimes this does not work: a Monster is born. Cultural categories spawn these monsters. (This also means that preventing monsters is not possible, yes might even be equivalent of stifling innovation and creativity for it predetermines that only things that fit within existing categories can be safely done)
Smits concludes that her theory works very well in typecasting ongoing discussions around new technologies into one of her four responses to monsters, but that this does not immediately give us a clue on how to act.
She also concludes that the most feasable approach to monsters is the route of assimilation, where both the monster and the cultural categories are changed to make place for the monster.
The other routes (the dogmatic style of monster killing, the ritualistic style of monster adaption, and the romantic style of monster embracing) have two disadvantages. The first is not being able to view a monster from another position than your own because all these routes stick to their existing set of categories. The second is that these routes deny themselves a whole range of possible solutions because categories cannot be changed or altered.
Assimilation, which Smits dubs the pragmatic route, thus has a broader spectrum of possible reactions. It is also the route that requires improvisation and creativity. Its ontological scepsis also leaves room to look at different points of view, and even of the recognition of multiple monsters at the same time and their mutual relations.
The effect to be avoided here is cultural relativism, where the reconstructability of cultural categories becomes absolute. This does away with all that makes categories useful (see above).
Reading this book gave me a access to a model which makes it possible to take another look at debates around innovation that seem to be going nowhere and where the parties involved are stuck in trenches. By identifying and exposing the underlying cultural categories that are at stake, you can then search for a way forward. This can now be done without discounting different positions as too emotional or too rational.0 Comments and 4 Trackbacks | Permalink
Interdependent Thoughts now a business
Today was a day of symbolic significance. I registered Interdependent Thoughts as a company. Elmine and I went down to the local Chamber of Commerce where I completed the necessary paperwork. After that the ritual of paying a fistful of Euro's at the cashier was completed, and I left with a sheet of paper proving that the company is in my name.
No immediate plans or products yet, no customers either, so for the time being I'm the proud owner of an empty shell. But the first step has been made.
Illustrated templates1 Comments and 1 Trackbacks | Permalink
Well connected, but the line's dead
Gary writes a great piece about new research indicating, that while we can chart our connectedness and six degrees of seperation to anyone anywhere, we can almost never leverage it: the throughput of the network is extremely low.
Just a link for now, will probably comment later.0 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
Thomas Burg picks up on my thoughts on KM as a Monster, and applies Smits monster-theory to blogs. The result, called Monstermedia, is in German but very worthwile. Feedback explicitly appreciated by Thomas.0 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
Company blogs / k-logs
Phil brings together several links to postings concerning the question why and how blogging is good for companies. From the M-E-X-blog (in German) comes this list of 10 points why companies won't blog: (any translation mistakes are purely mine)
1) Possible publication of company secrets
2) Too much effort to get the blog in sync with both PR-people and the Legal-people
3) Conversational style of the blog might clash with corporate branding (e.g. with a top bank.)
4) The blog might turn into a blatant PR channel, turning readership away, being an one-sided, or even untrustworthy source
5) Employees or departments becoming dissatisfied due to jealousy and politics. (I think internal differences being fought out in blogs is primarily meant here, and dissenters within the company becoming more visible: both often unwanted by management)
6) No clear distinction between news and blogs (Why read the news if you can read blogs)
7) Too much time spent on replying to customer feedback on blogs
8) Blogsilence will cause suspicion of something being wrong amongst readership
9) Politics again: company seldom have one (management) voice inside the company. Likewise it will be difficult to find one blogging voice to the outside
10) As long as the competition doesn't blog, why should we?
These 10 objections sound like very likely to be brought up when introducing blogs in a company. But the reasoning behind these objections has nothing to do with blogging as such, but everything to do with such a company having missed the cluetrain.
The list exudes the fear of talking to people. And also of fear of letting your people talk. That's fear of self-reflection.
The Dean campaign team for the next elections for the US Presidency, have embraced blogging and have stated that they accepted that with creating the blog, and the community of readers that flocked to it, meant giving up some control of the message. But the rewards have been astounding. The blog-triggered grass roots movement has changed the chances of Dean for the Democratic candidacy.
Blogs as a way of communicating of course are only useful in some situations, and as an answer to some business needs or problems. But usefulness is not inversely proportional to fear. Business should not be conducted on the basis of fear, as it so often is. It should be conducted on the basis of vision and self-belief, as it so often is not.