Driving blind into a Web 2.0 storm

I’ve suggested finding a friendly geek to help you get started on Web 2.0 inside your organisation. This of course assumes the geeks in your organisation know about Web 2.0 or at least tools like wikis, blogs and RSS

How can the percentage of Web 2.0 users in a room full of IT pros be 0%, and the percentage of companies as a whole using Web 2.0 technologies hover somewhere near the 40% mark?

The answer: More and more employees are bringing Web 2.0 technologies into the enterprise without the involvement of IT. Even within IT departments, Moore said, rouge workers are experimenting with blogs and wikis for work purposes without IT managers even being aware of it.

From SearchSMB.com’s SMB Connection blog.

Blogging or just Web content?

As I’ve been saying for a while now, a blog has nothing to do with the software it runs on but how you choose to use it. Care of James Governor, Abhijit Nadgouda explains why WordPress is actually a good generic Web Content Management System (WCMS):

WordPress provides good infrastructure of web publishing and gives you tools to build an interactive web site… I will continue to recommend WordPress for many simple web sites, it really makes sense.

Some of the comment provide some examples of WordPress sites that look, well, not like blogs at all.

Now, this brings me to something that has been bothering me – Jonny Bentwood has released a league table of the top 50 English-language technology analyst blogs. This is based on a ranking system that draws on Google PageRank, Bloglines Subscribers, Technorati Ranking and his own ranking of that values “frequent, relevant, creative and high-quality content with a good number of comments.

The last part is good at least, but in practice if we look at the number 1 ranked blog, Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, then so far in June there are just 4 posts with only 2 comments (the content itself is focused on a book they are writing so hardly great analysis either). Compare this with Stowe Boyd‘s blog, which comes in at second place, where we find about 32 posts in June to date and numerous comments. So, what defines a truly popular blog – is it page rank or the conversation around it? And on that point, if you have a “blog” that doesn’t allow comments should it really be labelled as a blog? Personally, I don’t believe in one-sided conversations. What do you think?

Debating disastrous KM experiences

I’ve commented a couple of times on posts by Paula Thornton in the FAST Forward blog, so it was great to see her drop by the ChiefTech blog to challenge me a little on my own thinking about the success of knowledge management (KM). Paula asks:

Have you had to ‘live’ inside of any organization that had a KM effort/group? Mine have all been disastrous experiences. Read: A total waste of corporate dollars, for the implementation and the negative impact on productivity.

Firstly, I haven’t just consulted to organisations about information and knowledge management, but worked as employee in government and professional services areas in information/knowledge management roles (my experiences at Ernst & Young are well documented). Unlike Paula, my experiences were mostly positive and the successes have helped to shape my thinking of what knowledge management is really about, the role of information technology and how it can contribute to an organisation and the people who work in them (productivity being just one dimension of the contribution it can make).

Its hard to comment further because the devil is in the detail… so some probing questions to Paula (and anyone else with a bad experience of KM):

  • What made your experience disastrous?
  • Why was so much money spent on your KM initiative, and on what aspects?
  • Why did it have an negative impact on productivity? Was productivity one of the measures of such? Was it the only measure?
  • What specific business problem or strategy did it try to support (if any)?

And in the spirit of Voltaire, its great to have some different views on this topic! So let the real Enterprise 2.0 debate begin… tell me what you really think (I would also love to see any relevant links to interesting blogs posts about the future of KM and the relationship between KM and Enterprise 2.0).

Internal blogging is just one example of open information sharing inside an organisation

Linking to Seven Reasons for Your Company to Start an Internal Blog on CIO.com, Jack Vinson reflects on a separate discussion about the value of blogging to knowledge management:

In a recent discussion on the ACT-KM discussion list, someone mentioned that blogging is just one means of communication – that it isn’t the be-all, end-all of knowledge sharing.  I like this reminder because promoters tend to fall all over themselves with fantastic claims.  On the other side, blogging provides a means of communication that people may need and don’t currently have within their organization.

Good point, Jack. This also reminds me of some points I’ve made in the past about how blogs can be used in many different ways, and not just for knowledge sharing – I brainstormed a number of different ways a blogging can be used:

  • Data and information broadcasting
  • WCMS replacement
  • Journals
  • Groupware 2.0
  • One-To-Many blogging
  • Social blogging

With this in mind, I was also interested by this comment from Dennis McDonald on the CIO.com article, who is currently researching the use of blogs in project management, and says:

After doing just a few interviews I’m finding a wide range of perceptions. Some are using them as lightweight content management tools, some are using them as portals to organize access to and views of a variety of other tools, and others think they are inappropriate given they lack the structure and formality of dedicated PM tools. While I haven’t yet conducted enough interviews to support any real conclusions, ‘reduction in email’ is the most concrete benefit mentioned so far.

Maybe not a ground breaking reason for internal blogging, but if all we achieved with blogs is a reduction in email then I’d take that. However, I would still question if its blogging as such that provides this benefit or is it simply the action of providing open access to information (rather than the means of doing it). For example, I pointed recently to JP Rangaswami‘s approach to open email. I would also suggest that those that have never had access to platforms that enable open information sharing, would see this as revolutionary whilst those that have, might only see it as evolutionary – see my post from a few days ago about the future Enterprise 2.0.