Category Archives: Blogging

On information research

The latest issue of the e-journal, Information Research, is now available.

There are some really interesting papers, especially the paper by Marcia Bates on browsing behaviour and the paper by Judit Bar-Ilan on librarian blogs.

There are several book reviews too, including this one on David Weinberger’s book, Everything is miscellaneous (a book I am currently reading).

 All in all, a range of articles and reviews well worth a look!

On blog action day

The 15th October was designated blog action day (yes, I know I’m a day late but, as I write, it’s still the 15th in the Galapogas Islands). Andy Roberts writes that the theme this year for blog action day is the environment and distributed collaborative action – “The important thing is that the mass action can become self-conscious”.

In Australia, we have an upcoming federal election (24th November) in which individuals can have an impact in collaborative mass action for the environment. The election is the opportunity to put self-awareness about the environment onto the national agenda. 

Individuals can exercise real power by voting for the candidates (in the House of Representatives and the Senate) that will actually take up the environmental challenge and actively work towards lowering our national carbon emissions. Globally, Australia could also join the Kyoto Protocol (Australia and the US are the two recalcitrant nations) and engage with the world on active climate change policies.

Australian voters should check out this recent CSIRO report on climate change to gauge the impact of climate change at home – nothing here to be complacent about!

On knowledge management – Dave Pollard

Every now and then I want to highlight a blog post that I have read that has really made me think. First up is Dave Pollard.

I first met Dave Pollard after a presentation he gave last year at the Online Information conference in London (Online Information is on again later this year). The presentation was a keynote, entitled “A whirlwind tour of social networking”. I see from my notes that his presentation title was very apt! I was pretty impressed with what he had to say then and still impressed with what he has to say now. He is a passionate writer and engenders that feeling in his work and his blog posts.

I am not going to give a summary because I couldn’t do it justice. However, I will include this quote: “The only sustainable value you bring to an organization is what you show and teach and inspire in other people you work with”.

See what Dave Pollard has to say about knowledge management, blogging, and what it means for people and organisations.

On tailoring content in the world of Web 2.0

I gave my talk and presentation yesterday in Sydney at the Ark Group conference, Collaboration in the world of Web 2.0. My topic was on “tailoring content for Web 2.0″. The focus was on setting the scene for content within a Web 2.0 world (blogs, online collaboration, podcasting, wikis, and social networking) within the enterprise. Instead of just posting the slides, that are not particularly informative without the full text, I thought I’d run through some of the key points.

Firstly, I emphasised the importance of establishing a well constructed launching pad – the intranet – based on the fact that most organisations already have an intranet. A well planned and thoughtfully constructed intranet architecture, with relevant and useful content, is imperative in providing the basic foundation from which to launch a range of Web 2.0 applications. Intranets must avoid the dumping ground mentality. The intranet launching pad is essentially about providing a platform for publishing, but with access points (perhaps from a portal) provided for additional Web 2.0 applications. An intranet that gives useful and timely information in an easy to access fashion will give a great deal of confidence to an organisation.

Moving forward, some organisations have the people and the capability for emergent Web 2.0 activities, and we often hear about them at conferences and from reading articles and books. Generation x,y, and z are all likely to be Web 2.0 savvy and may act as prime movers for collaborative technologies within organisations. However, there are many other organisations that are unsure and require some preliminary thinking – a practical reality for senior management.

Let’s say that the senior management team have found out from a staff survey that there is general disengagement within the organisation, that staff believe that communication and visibility from senior management is poor, and that staff feel they are not being listened to. Add the fact that management wants to encourage ideas from staff to improve organisational efficiency and effectiveness, and what are the options? The answer might be to start a senior management blog, personalising the senior management team, and giving a communication platform for two-way interaction and idea generation.

And what about a project team working on documenting the most effective process for a complex IT installation? Perhaps a wiki may be the answer…

And since communities of practice had been featured at the conference already, I referred people to my previously published paper from the 2003 IAMA Conference.

Some considerations on Web 2.0 for management will include:

  •  mission or purpose (why are we doing this? or what is the problem? or how do we fix this?)
  • context (organisational, physical, and individual and group work processes)
  • organisational culture (work with existing culture if possible, supported with appropriate tools and processes, rather than enforcing revolutionary change)
  • select the most appropriate applications for the culture, context, and purpose

And what about the actual content – “it’s not always about you…or is it?”

  • Why are you writing?
  • Who are you writing for?
  • What are you writing?
  • Does the writing style fit the context?
  • Does the writing make sense?
  • Get to the point…

The challenge in the world of Web 2.0 is now that we have many more people writing content, many more vehicles for content delivery and exchange, and even less time for content review.

In terms of managing content, you can and you can’t. Organisations can provide rules, guidelines, tip sheets, training, etc., thereby setting boundaries and standards of behaviour. In the Web 2.0 world, authorship at creation means there will be many more authors than in the previous expert-publishing domain so that managing content faces a mammoth increase in scale. Organisations can provide varying degrees of editorial or project management control, notably at final publication. Up to then, individual content creation is essentially up to the individual and the more control an organisation puts up, the less likely meaningful and interactive communication will take place. Conversely, organisations that allow for open dialogue and collaboration (certainly within the organisation) will encourage confident full expression and, hopefully, some innovative thinking. In open organisations, peer review and personal reputation profile are usually sufficient to ensure good content standards.

Lastly, there is the debate about content quality – again part of the content management issue. Is the content generated via blogs and wikis and social networking activities a waste of corporate time or do they actually provide meaningful and useful business activities? The answer will depend on the people involved, in the same way individuals choose to use the telephone or e-mail. In fact, blogs and wikis are even more transparent methods of internal communication since they are visible across the membership or organisation. Content quality will always come down to context and individual needs – whether that relates to “just the facts”, or in establishing personal networks and relationships that enhance workplace collaboration and performance, or improving levels of workplace engagement.

That was the gist of the 45 minute presentation. I would have liked to have actually delved into the different forms of content within various Web 2.0 applications and the opportunities for collaboration that such activities provide, either by themselves or in combination, but there was no time. A general overview of content considerations in the Web 2.0 world had to suffice.

And if you’re interested in finding out more about content management, check out What is Web 2.0 content management? 

On everything is miscellaneous

I have been discussing podcasts recently. I have also been doing a bit of long-distance driving. One benefit of the driving has been listening to podcasts.

One good podcast I listened to yesterday afternoon on my MP3 player was a recent interview with Dave Weinberger, author of the book, Everything is miscellaneous. Weinberger discusses web 2.o, web-based participation and user ownership, and the miscellaneous nature of knowledge in the rapidly changing digital world. Very interesting and well worth listening to (and reading the book).

On KM Australia 2007 (Part 1)

Wow. Today was the first day of the KM Australia 2007 conference in Sydney. I was very impressed with some of today’s presentations, although I must say it was sometimes difficult to hear the speakers due to the noise coming from the vendor and catering area next to the stage.

Not surprisingly, Dave Snowden was in fine form with his presentation on naturalising sense-making. Dave told me he hopes to have a podcast of the presentation up on his blog when he gets the opportunity to do so. Although I had heard much of what Dave spoke about today at another conference (including seeing the delightful basketball video), it is always refreshing to hear him challenge management orthodoxy in his initimable style.

The highlight of the day, however, was the presentation by Michel Bauwens from the P2P Foundation. Michel is quite the optimistic evangelist for peer to peer innovation creating a new mode of production for post-capitalist society.

I also enjoyed the presentation from James Price and Brian Nielsen from Adelaide-based “Experience Matters” highlighting some of the learning points from a couple of client work examples.

I am still going through my notes and thinking about many of the key issues raised at the conference today. A full report will appear later in the week – stay tuned.

Also, tomorrow evening is the next meeting of the NSW KM Forum. Our speaker will be Patrick Lambe of Green Chameleon fame. Hopefully, I will have a synopsis of Patrick’s talk when I return home later tomorrow evening.

On the cult of the amateur

I have on my “to read” list the book, The cult of the amateur, by Andrew Keen. I read the review of Keen’s book in the NY Times recently and hastily sent off for a copy of the book [the book has now arrived as at the 23rd July].

The basic premise of the book is that the internet and Web 2.0 have allowed the world to be swallowed up by amateur, superficial drivel. Keen is very dismissive of the value of content generated by amateurs, whether it originates from garage bands or budding political commentators. Keen is of the opinion that real culture is being sidelined by “just cheaper, more accessible versions of vanity presses where the untalented go to purchase the veneer of publication”. I love the imagery. I will need to read the book and follow up with a more detailed analysis in a later post.

Suffice to say, I agree that there is a lot of rubbish on the web (but then again, one person’s garbage is another person’s treasure). There’s also a lot of rubbish in the local library – those dog-eared Mills and Boon novels tell a story in themselves (at a local library I worked part-time in many, many years ago, the deputy librarian refused to purchase Mills and Boon novels based on her belief that just like fairy floss rots the teeth, Mills and Boon novels would rot the minds of the readers). And don’t get me started on the content bombarding the senses from television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and mobile phone ring tones.

On the other hand, I am not totally convinced that just because everyone can now have a say on the web that this automatically delivers value and real democracy either. Let me ruminate on this some more.

On KM, intranets, and enterprise 2.0

I have been working on a couple of projects that have taken my time and head space in recent days. So much so, that my blogging remains on the back burner.

In the meantime, I have another conference alert. The KM World & Intranets Conference and Expo 2007 will be on in San Jose, California (USA) from November 6-8. The theme is “KM 2.0: a new world for the enterprise”.

I am reminded of this post by James Dellow on enterprise 2.0 and knowledge management – a good read on the subject and something worth thinking about on the way to San Jose … if you know the way there.

On libraries and Web 2.0

I have been having an interesting online (see earlier post) and offline exchange regarding the state of libraries in the Web 2.0 world. Wired ran an article earlier this year on libraries and Web 2.0 that covered the training and awareness aspect of librarianship:

“The last thing we want is for people to come into our libraries and ask about Flickr or Second Life and be met with a blank look,” said Christine MacKensie, director of the Yarra Plenty Regional Library in Melbourne, Australia, which just finished a four-month version of Learning 2.0. “And they certainly won’t now.”

This training and awareness aspect was something that most of us agreed in our discussions was something that needed greater attention.

One library blog to follow and see what is possible in the Web 2.0 library space is LibraryBytes, authored by Helene Blowers. Helene was the person behind the establishment of Learning 2.0 mentioned in the Wired article. I recommend it to you as one way of developing Web 2.0 skills and techniques for librarians, knowledge managers, social psychologists, and any of you still uncertain about Web 2.0 capabilities.

One of my offline discussions involved my “dismissal” of the explicit knowledge already provided by libraries. Libraries, I was told in no uncertain terms, should not be underestimated because of any alleged limitations in developing and utilising new Web 2.0 tools. There are “some” people who actually just want to read a book!

Well, yes. This is true. However, I think the time has well and truly come for libraries to extend themselves and embrace the opportunities Web 2.0 tools and thinking can provide to service the needs of a changing clientele. In addition, libraries can maximise their communal benefits and enhance their own reputations as leading edge knowledge service providers. Perhaps there are more libraries out in cyberspace doing this very thing (even in Second Life?). I’d be keen to hear about them and what they are doing.

On blogs

Blog netiquette is receiving a lot of attention after the threats US blogger Kathy Sierra received on her blog site, Creating passionate users. One would hope that “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” would be a simple and timeless reminder (irrespective of any religious orientation or not) of how to relate to people, on blogs or via any other communication channel.

On trust

Catherine Sanderson has just won a court case in Paris against her employer, accountants Dixon Wilson, for sacking her over a blog she had been writing. The blog did not reveal Ms Sanderson’s name, her workplace, or indeed the type of work her firm was invlolved in. Naturally enough, the victory was well received by Ms Sanderson. She also has a book deal in the offing based on her travails as a British expatriate living and working in Paris as detailed in her blog.

This little episode highlights the sensitivity that some employers have about employees writing in the blogosphere. More importantly, it demonstrates how the issue of trust remains a fundamental fear between employer and employee, despite what a plethora of management and leadership books have to say these days about modern organisations and the collaborative work space.

Trust is a very valuable commodity. It needs to be handled with care and responsibility. Trust in the workplace is very important for positive and productive outcomes. Once broken, trust is a very difficult commodity to repair. It is therefore not surprising that Ms Sanderson is not returning to Dixon Wilson, to work there as if nothing ever happened!

On meme

I was fascinated by the meme on Dave Snowden’s blog when he listed his favourite sources of media consumption. I was surprised that one of his favourites was the television series Charmed. Now I haven’t personally met Dave Snowden, but I have seen and heard him at conferences and I have read many of his articles and posts.  I must say he doesn’t strike me as a chap who would watch such a show. Perhaps this says more about me than Dave Snowden!

Bloggers use blogs for many different reasons. Blogs can be used to record academic or employment-based work, to jot down personal thoughts and experiences and/or to actively encourage conversations with a range of people we might not necessarily know in person. Blogs can be useful as a form of personal profile, both in the blogosphere and also within organisations (company CEOs take note). Blogging offers a personality dimension because blogs are a platform to initiate and sustain relationships.

My blog has revealed some things about me, hopefully my curiousity, my interests and other activities. I’m sure more will come out in later posts. So, while not wanting to portray myself in the same dizzy heights of Snowden and corporate CEOs, I can reveal to you today that in my list of my favourite movies are Cheaper by the Dozen and the sequel, Cheaper by the Dozen 2 (playing in the background as I write).

 It’s true, despite today being April Fools’ Day.