Saving E2.0’s Soul

I’ve always been a fan of Tom Davenport and was disappointed that when he was last in Australia I ended up being elsewhere, so I didn’t get to hear him speak in person. Its also a shame that Davenport doesn’t really blog; not quite as bad as Ray Ozzie, but I feel the blogosphere doesn’t appear to hold much attraction for him. So in some respects we shouldn’t be surprised by his suggestion that Enterprise 2.0 is more likely to be the “next small thing“. Commenting on the vision put forward for E2.0, Davenport says:

Such a utopian vision can hardly be achieved through new technology alone. The absence of participative technologies in the past is not the only reason that organizations and expertise are hierarchical. Enterprise 2.0 software and the Internet won’t make organizational hierarchy and politics go away.

Mike Gotta – following Davenport and a response from Andrew McAfeeadds this analysis:

I have a slight disagreement with Andrew McAfee that these tools are radical departures from previous generations of communication and collaboration technology. I see these technologies more as a natural progression. Tools emerging under the category of social software are benefiting from common application, infrastructure and network services that were not mature in the eighties and nineties. There was a reason e-mail was the “killer app” 15 years ago. A store-forward model was the only viable design given unreliable end-to-end networks with limited bandwidth. There was a reason a platform such as Lotus Notes was such a huge hit in the market.”

I want to put a different spin on Davenport‘s perspective. Firstly, he thinks that the next big thing will really be in the area of business analytics – however, I think he failing here to see what the impact Web 2.0 and other related technologies will have in this space. More on that another time maybe, but think about mashups and “Data as the Intel inside”.

But the main issue I’m sure Davenport has is that he probably feels he has seen and written about this all before. One of my favorite Davenport pieces is his 1994 HBR article, Saving IT’s Soul: Human-Centered Information Management. In it he presents a manifesto for building information systems that focus on how people use information, rather than machines. He suggests that human centred information management should:

  • Focus on broad information types;
  • Emphasize information use and sharing;
  • Assume transience of solutions;
  • Assume multiple meanings of terms;
  • Continue until desired behaviour is achieved enterprisewide;
  • Build point-specific structures;
  • Assume compliance is gained over time through influence; and
  • Let individuals design their own information environments.

Pretty good for 1994 don’t you think? No wonder he thinks E2.0 is old hat. But Tom – don’t give up on E2.0… we need your help to save its soul too!

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You heard it here first… the online desktop vs offline Webapp debate

For a while I thought I was just some crackpot blogger questioning the value of offline Webapps, but I feel a little better now that Read/WriteWeb have entered the debate with a couple of posts today:

  • It started with this post, Adobe Apollo – On A Collision Course With Web Browsers – “It appears that, intentionally or not, Adobe is on a collision course with IE, Firefox and the rest of the Web Browsers. Firefox has already said it is looking to add support for offline applications into its next version. If this happens, it will be bad news for Apollo – because Firefox users are not going to switch. IE plans in the same space are not clear, but we can be certain that if offline mode for web applications takes off, then there will be support in IE.”
  • And was followed by this, Point/Counterpoint: Which is better, an offline Web App or an online Desktop App? – “This is a point/counterpoint argument, with John Milan taking the position that online desktop apps are better, while Richard MacManus argues for offline web apps.

Now that I don’t feel like such crackpot (at least for asking the question), I’ll put forward a couple more poorly thought out ideas for you to think about:

  • In the longterm the browser is dead, and I think the question is more about offline Webapps that work across multiple operating systems vs online operating systems – in a way I see Adobe Apollo actually challenging the value of the underlying operating system;
  • In the longterm the offline vs online doesn’t matter, the future (Web 3.0?) will be peer-to-peer – I don’t actually want to worry about synchronisation, I just want to access my data when I need it, from where ever I am and from what ever device I’m using… so lets actually separate the client from the data even further.

OK. I’ll crawl back in my cave now. Switch off the lights please.

The Seven Step Radical RSS Reading Seminar… not really ;-)

I knew this was going to happen at some point… Attensa have posted a series of posts starting here, then here, here and here providing some advice on good RSS reading practices

Its all good advice, but I particularly like this point:

Don’t be Afraid to Delete, and Don’t Feel Guilty About It

Give yourself permission to ignore things that don’t look threatening or critical. It’s ok to delete articles that aren’t relevant.

I’m sure its only a matter of time and we’ll soon see people offering courses along the lines of The Seven Step Radical RSS Reading seminar 😉

Wondering What Wiki Will Work?

All this talking and thinking about wikis over the last few days, following from a NSW KM Forum meeting on this topic, has got me looking again at some of the wiki options out there. One useful source is WikiMatrix, which currently helps you to choose and compare 84 different wiki software options.

Wandering around the different options I began to think about what would the best approach be for someone who wants to get started with exploring wikis inside the firewall, particularly if you operate in a more restrictive IT environment or simply don’t have the technical resources? Well, here are a couple of ideas:

Another issue might be that your IT department wants you to use an existing enterprise platform. An interesting discussion thread I came across in WikiMatrix is a request to add Sharepoint 2007 to the list. Apparently they need – I wonder if someone from Microsoft will step up to the plate? I wouldn’t mind seeing something about the IBM Lotus options too, as there are some wiki templates for Notes and Quickplace available too.

Have fun!

Apply for the "CoP" job

More proof that knowledge management is alive, well and succeeding in some organisations – here is a great opportunity for someone passionate about Communities of Practice (CoPs):

You will help to optimise the operation of our overall portfolio of CoP, as well as contribute to the development of the strategy, governance and operational models. Key components include providing direct assistance to CoP Coordinators and Sponsors, identifying success stories, developing education and training processes, facilitating the capture of explicit knowledge and raising the level of awareness of CoPs

You have until April 14, 2007 to apply and can work in Perth, Brisbane or Salt Lake City!

Reflections on last week’s masterclass and the learning experience

Well, I’m back in Australia again. I actually spent the weekend in Canberra and had the opportunity to visit Questacon – an “interactive science and technology Centre” – and it was a nice reminder about the importance of play and discovery in helping children and adults alike in learning about technology and science. It reminds me of a comment from one participant in last week’s masterclass about the value of attending who said it wasn’t just about hearing some new ideas, but having a chance to think and discuss the issues.

Another participant also commented on my blog that:

having an open-ended ending is interesting (though not new), but requires certain maturity (in the learners) and understanding that the learners are able to come to a sensible conclusion themselves.”

A good point. Just like Questacon, the masterclass is just the beginning of a learning experience and there maybe new skills and knowledge we need to develop along the way. I know there is interest in this already and I look forward to continuing this learning conversation online with you.

Currently in Singapore

I’m currently in Singapore with no time to blog really, respond to comments or even keep up with my RSS feeds. Very quickly: