‘Social’ means understanding information is socially situated, socially constructed. Now do you get it?


A couple of blog conversations by James RobertsonJane McConnell and Toby Ward (who all run an intranet competition or survey of some sort) have been touching on the change role of intranets and the meaning of the word intranet. Toby Ward kicks off by declaring:

“more organizations that are sleeping through the social media revolution will jump on the bandwagon. 2010 will be the year of the social intranet.”

However, Jane isn’t quite convinced that the social intranet is really here, well not just yet anyway. Meanwhile, James take this conversation a little further by proposing a shift from talking about ‘intranets’ to the ‘Enterprise experience’:

“Within organisations, we should start to talk about the “enterprise experience”. What experience do we want to provide to staff in their working lives? What systems should they be using, and how? How do they interact with the information and tools they need to do their jobs?”

If you see my comment on James’ post, you’ll see that I’m supportive of the direction James is taking this conversation. However, I think Mark Morrell’s comment is more to the point:

BT has an intranet. It’s called the BT Intranet. It’s what it does that has created the reputation it now has rather than what it is called.

It’s what an intranet does that it important – not what it is called.

I feel you should go further than you have. In BT we use internet tools as well as intranet tools including Facebook, Twitter and RSS feeds of internal and external news for business purposeshttp://markmorrell.wordpress.com/2009/06/30/i-now-receive-only-the-information-i-need/.

I also feel work and personal lives are blurring in being separate distinctive things we do and we are doing more of these using intranet/internet tools.

As this evolves intranets could well become a redundant term and something far more embracing takes hold.

This will because of what people are doing rather than calling an intranet by another name.

Rather than asking, “Is the social intranet really here?”, we should be asking, “When are we going to start recognising that intranets are social?”

The Social Life of Information (pictured above) was published in 2000. One (Amazon) reviewer summarised the thesis of the book as follows:

“most interesting information is socially situated, socially constructed, or otherwise impossible to tear from its human roots and package into transferrable units of “knowledge”. This has major implications for the viability of certain kinds of information systems, educational programs, and the evolution of an “information society”. Yet, most information workers and information products appear to be oblivious to these implications.”

Finally, is the intranet community taking notice? 🙂

BTW While you are over on James’ blog, check out his 2009 Intranet Innovation awards video interview with NYK, about its wiki-based internal news aggregator. NYK’s approach is pretty rudimentary – you can find some other examples of organisations using wiki-based intranet platforms for achieving the same goal in Headshift’s project files (check out the Legal and Professional Services case studies).


One thought on “‘Social’ means understanding information is socially situated, socially constructed. Now do you get it?

  1. Sounds like Headshift has some some great work with clients around wiki-based solutions. You should get some of these organistaions to enter this year’s Intranet Innovation Awards! :-)(Entries open in March, just a few weeks off.)

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