Enterprise microblogging adds up for CPA Australia

Through some serendipity, I came across Zaana Howard’s CPA Australia case study on enterprise microblogging. In these three parts, we again see a very familiar viral and low friction adoption pattern.

From this experience, Zaana highlights the benefits (knowledge sharing, better communication and expertise location) but also a number lessons learnt, that hinge particularly on the point that “viral success is not enough“.

This reminded me that a couple of years ago I came across an organisation that was awash with enterprise social computing tools – wikis, blogs, video, rss, dashboard etc – but each tool was lost within a sea of legacy and traditional intranet and information management tools. The average user in that organisation could barely find anything on the intranet that was already there, let alone the new wave of tools.

It was a shame because the earlier adopters had embraced them and could see the future benefits, but they were actually talking about removing all the social computing tools from their systems because mixing the old and new world was completely unplanned.

BTW Have a look through my blog archives to find more case studies and examples of enterprise microblogging at work.

No one said user participation would be *easy*

User participation is now an established feature of the economy, spreading from product development and software to a much broader base of activities, such as marketing and manufacturing, and sectors, including social media, automotives and cosmetics, among others. Early analyses of user participation pointed to the importance of building large communities, creating effective incentives for participation and implementing more flexible forms of organization. Looking back a few years later, the good news is that active participation continues to spread. The bad news is that harnessing participation is more difficult than we thought. Stimulating a continuous flow of high-quality contributions should be the focus of companies that want to take advantage of user participation.

Well, actually, if you’ve been hanging around knowledge management and collaboration for a while you wouldn’t expect it to be easy 🙂

I still think Clay Shirky sums this up best – you need:

“a successful fusion of a plausible promise, an effective tool, and an acceptable bargain with the users”

Events in March 2010 – Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne

March is shaping up to be a busy month for me at Headshift. Here are some events I’m involved with that you might be interested in:

I look forward to seeing some of you at one or more these events during March!

Masterclass: Online community engagement for the public sector – 22nd March, 2010 – Canberra


We are taking advantage of the fact that Robin Hamman will be here in Sydney for our Social Business Summit to run a special half-day masterclass in Canberra on Monday 22nd March.

Featuring Robin and facilitated by Anne Bartlett-Bragg, the masterclass will address:

  • How existing government activities can be undertaken with more impact, wider reach, and effectiveness using social media;
  • Who should do it (and who shouldn’t);
  • The guidelines and roles a government agency will need; and
  • Measuring success for different stake holders.
Please contact me at james.dellow@headshift.com or call 0414 233711 for more information or if you would like to register for the masterclass.

I’ll be taking a bit of back seat at this event, but it will give you the chance to hear from two other very experienced people from the Headshift team. Robin’s profile speaks for itself, meanwhile you may not be aware that Anne was the other primary author to the Project 8 guidelines I’ve been talking about a lot recently 🙂

Anne was also the lead consultant for Taskforce Project 15, to assist the Australian Law Reform Commission to run an online engagement pilot with their stakeholders.

The Big Picture of the Internet Filter

Last week, internet activists calling themselves “Anonymous” temporarily brought down the Australian governments’ networks and they’re threatening to do it again. Anonymous, a “hacktivist” group, formed through the subculture website 4Chan. Jon Stewart speaks to 4Chan’s founder Chris “Moot” Poole.

Interesting to note that our ‘local’ Australian issue with the proposed mandatory Internet filter caught the attention of the BBC’s Digital Plant radio show, thanks in part to the DDoS attack by the ‘Anonymous’ group. The story of the relationship between 4Chan and Anonymous was also something I hadn’t heard before. They also discuss the radical idea that, perhaps one day, a DDoS might be seen as a legitimate form of protest – at least, they argue, there are no broken windows at the end of it.

Personally, I think the filter is a waste of time for all the technical reasons people have been talking about (like private dark nets) and I hope, if the legislation is successful, that we don’t see dramatic changes to cost and speed of Internet access. However, I’m much more concerned about the risk of scope creep and the message this sends to other nations about freedom of speech.

In that respect I’m happier with Kate Lundy’s position that:

“legislating to protect the presence and availability of an open Internet service would clearly solve several of the public concerns whilst also showing the world that Australia takes freedom of speech and association very seriously.”

Kate also points to Chris Zappone’s piece in the SMH where he says:

While no one would claim the intention of Australia’s filtering is political, on a technical level it puts the country in the ranks of some unseemly company, and in the process helps legitimise a heavy-handed government approach.

In fact, industry sources say that democratic governments’ seeking of restrictions on searches and web access encourage repressive governments to ask for the same.

This isn’t a local issue. In our attempts to protect one group, we actually contribute to putting others at harm.

Permatime – Helping us to overcome time zone confusion

Imagine you want to announce an event with participants across different time zones.
Simply set the time, in your time zone, and permatime.com will generate a link for it.
If you share this link with others, they will see that time in their own local time zone
(and any other zones they choose).

Use a permatime link to arrange a phone call, timestamp a blog post, announce a webinar…

Just brilliant. Now we just need it integrated in TweetDeck et al.

Nothing good can come from believing Data -> Information -> Knowledge

Talking of information being socially situated, I’ve not been a fan of the data -> information -> knowledge and sometimes -> wisdom (DIKW) model for a long time, but in way it provides a great opportunity to discuss what Knowledge Management is and isn’t about. I ‘debunked’ the DIKW model as a way to frame the focus of series of master classes on KM that I ran in Singapore in 2006 and 2007, where I discuss how technology could be used to enable KM rather an a means to its own end.

At around the same time, I also wrote an article about next generation Knowledge Management (look for ‘Knowledge Management: How to separate the wheat from the chaff’ in my list of articles) where I forward some pragmatic arguments against using this model:

“From the perspective of knowledge management this model is flawed for a number of reasons, such as:

  • It over emphasises the position of information technology in knowledge management, when in fact technology is only ever one element;
  • It suggests that “knowledge” (and perhaps the discipline of knowledge management) is superior to information and data when the comparison with tangible bits and bytes is nonsensical; and
  • It ignores the complex relationship data and information has as a resource within organisational systems (that is, its not just about the data itself but where it came from, who owns and who can access it).”

Anyway, the debate about DIKM has raised its head again and David Gurteen provides some links to some of the key discussions, including David Weinberger and Patrick Lamb most recently:

David writes in his concluding point:

“The real problem with the DIKW pyramid is that it’s a pyramid. The image that knowledge (much less wisdom) results from applying finer-grained filters at each level, paints the wrong picture. That view is natural to the Information Age which has been all about filtering noise, reducing the flow to what is clean, clear and manageable. Knowledge is more creative, messier, harder won, and far more discontinuous. “

Patrick has a good crack at giving us an overview of the whole history of the DIKW and the debates about it. He concludes:

“We need a better conceptual model, certainly, for explaining the elements of data, information and knowledge (and keeping wisdom well out of it), and how they interact. Deeper than that, we need to address the legitimising need of the players in data, information and knowledge management. We need a social model for how the disciplines interact in the service of the enterprise (or the community, or society). If we don’t address this need, we’re just children throwing stones, across lines in a pyramid, at varying levels of abstraction.”

Nikhil Sharma’s 2008 piece on the origins of DIKW (which I hadn’t read before) is also well worth reading.

However, if none of these arguments convince you perhaps I can put it another way: The DIKW model is like taking drugs – sure, it feels great the first time you use it, but ultimately its not going to be good for you.

Of course if you really want to argue about it – as Patrick points out – then go poke Dave Snowden!

Photo Credit: Star Trek – Data’s Head and other parts