||Wednesday, May 28, 2003
Between bloggers and their employers.
A lot of thinking about problems that could happen between bloggers and their employers by Joshua Allen [via Serious Instructional Technology]
As long as your company views your blogging as "you chatting with your neighbors on your personal time", you pose little risk. But the more that co-workers, CEOs, and so on are on-record as being cool with blogs, the more that blogs take on the timbre of being "official". The more "official" that blogs are, the more perceived risk the company takes on by allowing you to blog. And neither you nor your CEO is really keen to make things more complicated than they need to be. And this is why, IMO, you see most companies and employees today still dancing around the issue of employee blogs and seemingly settling on a "don't ask, don't tell, and please for the love of God don't do anything stupid" policy.
Is it something to face?
I bet that it is - the control thing that does not see the value of interaction and "play"
I am about 50 pages into this wonderful book - I wish I had written it myself - so far I am more than impressed. This is the first OK link that I have read. It is too soon for me to comment - any other good links out therre? Any views already formed?
SOCIAL NETWORKING, SOCIAL SOFTWARE AND THE FUTURE OF KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT.
I've been trading comments and e-mails with Gary Lawrence Murphy at Teledyn about the current craze over Social Software and Network Enablement, and how that plays into the current sorry state of Knowledge big problem with KM is that, like the six blind men feeling different parts of the elephant, the term has come to mean many different things to different people, and hence nothing at all:|
In most organizations KM is epitomized by the corporate intranet, the extranet, community-of-practice tools, sales force automation tools, customer relationship management tools, data mining tools, decision support tools, databases purchased from outside vendors, and sometimes business research and analysis. In other words, it's certain specialized technologies and information processing roles, with a thin wrapper of 'knowledge creating' and 'knowledge-sharing' processes.
- Academics: KM is anything that allows us to do something better in business than we can do without it
- Consultants: KM is an aspect of business process improvement
- IT People: KM is any software that concerns itself at least vaguely with databases or content management systems
- Librarians: KM is the new name for what special librarians have always done
- HR People: KM is the process surrounding non-classroom learning curricula
Most of the organizations that have implemented KM bemoan their people's inability to find stuff, the lack of demonstrable productivity improvement, the complexity of the technology, and the absence of significant reusable 'best practice' content.
Now along comes Social Networking and Social Software, also with its adherents from academia, consultancies, and IT. Beneath the torrent of hype and theory, it may reveal an important truth about KM, business, and how we learn: Social networks can provide the essential context needed to make knowledge sharing possible, valuable, efficient and effective .
What are 'social networks'? They are the circles in which we make a living and connect with other people. They transcend strict delineation between personal and business (there's often overlap between the two). They transcend organizational boundaries and hierarchies (we often trust and share more with people outside our companies, and outside our business units, than those inside, and often get better value from the exchange to boot). We are beginning to suspect that the essential yet elusive lesson of the PC is also the essential lesson for KM: It's all about portability and connectivity, not about processing power or content.
If we were to 'reinvent' KM as, say, Social Network Enablement , what would change?
Four important unanswered questions:
- Intranet as connector and link harvester: The intranet would become a people-to-people connector instead of a content repository. It would become a 'link harvester', scanning all traffic across it and dynamically identifying connections to people and their knowledge. New tools would be needed to allow such functionality.
- Decentralized content, with blog as surrogate for the individual: Content would shift from centralized, shared databases to personally- or team-owned databases, journals and stories, where the owner(s) provide essential context. (See my post on The Weblog as Filing Cabinet ). Each individual's subscribable, personally-indexed Weblog would be a surrogate for the individual when s/he's not available personally.
- Decentralized security, organizational boundaries blurred: Organizational boundaries become irrelevant. It doesn't matter whether the person you are sharing with is a work colleague, a supplier, customer, friend or advisor, an individual or a team, inside or outside the company. You share what you know with those you trust, the same way regardless. Security would be provided at the individual level, not managed by the enterprise. The same way employees know what hard-copy documents can be shared with whom, they set up subscription access to their blog categories correspondingly.
- Greatly enhanced weblog functionality, emphasis on access: Today's blogs are not nearly enough to fully enable social networks. They need much more connectivity functionality. A user should be able to call up a visual of their own network, or the network of expertise corresponding to a particular subject. The tool that does this would operate much like a search engine except it would retrieve people (and links to people) instead of documents. It would also have to aggregate various means of access to those people: e-mail, voice-mail, video and whiteboard, meeting scheduling, IM, weblog subscriptions and commenting, and new means of access just being developed. And it would need some mechanism to create a 'biography' of the user by automatically summarizing the total content of their weblog.
- Enhanced organizational change functionality: The exhaust from the increased connectivity could be browsed and canvassed to identify organizational change opportunities. Popularity indexes could pre-sage emerging business issues needing management attention, and could be used as a key part of the performance evaluation and reward process, and to identify de facto organizational thought leaders and potential strong recruits. It could incorporate Tipping Point functionality to propagate important ideas, Power Law analysis to identify and spell employees suffering from 'network overload' , and perhaps even new "Network Traffic Analyses" to identify communication logjams and disconnects. Intriguing, and perhaps a bit scary.
- What role can Social Network Enablement and social software play in enhancing individual and organizational learning?
- How do you measure and reward contributions to a network (a) by full-time knowledge workers (people in the organization, like researchers and help desk staff whose sole value is contributing to the network) and (b) by network 'players' outside the organization?
- How do organizations equip and foster networks without unduly controlling their actions and membership and therefore crushing them?
- How do we capture summaries and abstracts of organizational conversations that occur in other than written form (voice-mail, teleconferences and meetings), so that the blog record of networks is complete?
[How to Save the World]
Thanks Dave - more great material. My class and I have been talking about what makes a team different from a group. I suspect that a team is a social structure and a group is merely an ad hoc assembly of more than one person.
If this is true then a conventional intranet merely connects individuals. All personal and play element essential for the development of team are absent.
Blogging on the other hand helps develop friendship by leveraging social connection. Social Connection seems to involve a combination of work and play. The real teams that I have belonged to in the past socialize a lot with each other as an extension of the work we do as well. They work and play together - the two start to mix into work/play. As your diagram show the lines between client and supplier start to blur and Stephen Dulaney talks about in his latest piece. The silos inside an organization which can be harder to cross than the outside boundaries are easier to cross as well.
As with Cluetrain and markets - the language of blogs is human - the language of the best blogs is conversation which is by definition personal and messy. As David Weinberger says in his latest article, you can offer trust to a person who has being real for months in public. You can see that that prick in accounting is actually someone that you share a lot with or that difficult supplier is a fellow travellor.
Blogs Opening Iranian Society?. Iran's restive youth are using Farsi-language blogs as an outlet to express repressed creativity and sexuality. But the Islamic government is slowly catching on. Michelle Delio reports from the BlogTalk conference in Vienna. [Wired News]
The power of a small tool to change a whole society!!!
REALITY CHECK FOR TEACHERS, LOVERS, WRITERS, AND LOVERS OF LANGUAGE.
| A thoughtful and provocative quote from educator John Holt (1923-1985) from How Children Learn:|
We teachers - perhaps all human beings - are in the grip of an astonishing delusion. We think that we can take a picture, a structure, a working knowledge of something, constructed in our minds out of long experience and familiarity, and by turning that model into a string of words, transplant it whole into the mind of someone else.
Perhaps once in a thousand times, when the explanation is extraordinarily good, and the listener extraordinarily experienced and skillful at turning word-strings into non-verbal reality, and when the explainer and listener share in common many of the experiences being talked about, the process may work, and some real meaning may be communicated.
Most of the time, explaining does not increase understanding, and may even lessen it.
[How to Save the World]
As an educator? teacher? I am increasingly disturbed by our idea that learning is about shoving models and words into children's heads. But then here I am using an online course where we are restricted to words. I tell myself that this is OK because the course is set up as a conversation. However, I am still not sure. I spoke yesterday to a colleague who teaches environmental studies. Don Mazer asks his students to spend up to an hour a day in nature reflecting.
His experience is that this is best done in the same place so as to deepen the connection and to see how, in just a small place, things constantly change. I find this when I mow - it takes me about 3 hours twice a week - we have a lot of grass (another project) - I see all the weeds cycle though, the leaves bud bloom, mature wither and die. I feel every bump and see every twig and branch that has fallen onto the ground. Mowing even exposes me to the seasons and the larger system. The Zen of the Ride On?
This brings me to how we learn about blogging and all the recent great posts about what it is. Dave is an exemplar in this field.
So what about blogging? For me the issue is my experience.
No matter how much I attempt to explain it - see all the posts from you all on my site that help me see it in words - nothing beats doing it. Not merely the technical aspects but the growing social aspects. How can I explain how it feels to become Known - even only as fringe player? How can I explain my excitement when I see that Dave, or someone else like Richard, Chris or Stephen that I follow, has posted another gem? How can I explain the feeling that I have when a, then stranger, such as Critt Jarvis offers technical help out of the blue? How can I explain how it feels to be talking to someone who then tells you that she regularly reads your blog?
It is this experience that deepens my own sense of connection. Blogging is changing my life in a way that no other technology has. Email allowed me access to my existing friends but blogging offers me a chance of extending my community to many that I never would have met. It constantly enriches my life and hence is addictive.
I wonder if being known to a community - where you have earned your place - is not the greatest desire that we as humans have. It is surely the feeling that Tribal people have and why expulsion fro the tribe is its most terrible punishment.
Can PEI change in time?
Here is my response to my students. We are wondering whether PEI can make the changes it needs for its long term survival without a crisis. While we talk about PEI, the isue of whether we are at the end of the industrial system and what this means is a question for all of us
I suspect that PEI will need to experience a number of profound shocks and drop into Chaos to adapt. Why? Because I fear that our state of equilibrium is so powerfully held by a number of structural elements.
Many of you talked about demography, education and politics on PEI. These are some of the structural issues that concern me. Your comments have caused me to think a bit more about this myself.
While there are many conservative young people, it is fair to say that young people are less set in their ways. The percentage of young to old on PEI is low and will get lower. On PEI, as in Atlantic Canada we have a birth rate less than replacement and many young have to leave to get work - what are your plans? Much of our immigration, PEI does relatively well here, is made up of retired Islanders returning for their Golden Years - many of who have been holding onto, I bet, a fantasy about how PEI was when they were young and wanting to find this again. Our older and homogeneous population will have strong braking effect on change.
With the majority of our population likely to be over 50 in 15 years time - this will be a powerful barrier to change. That is unless of course that having this skewed age distribution itself causes a crisis. What will we do with all those schools and teachers? What will we do to afford healthcare? Who will pay all the taxes? So I see on balance this trend as one that drives a crisis. We risk holding onto the old for dear life until it is too late and our system snaps.
Another possible future is that we open the doors on PEI for immigration from the =rest of the world. We will never be Toronto but we could do one thing here that others wont - we could open the doors for foreign professionals such as doctors who end up driving cabs in Toronto. It might only take a few thousand to shift our equilibrium of white Christian culture and expose us to more change and to a more aggressive set of people.
Education. More than 43% of adult Islanders never finished high school. It is very challenging to cope with change if you have a limited education and therefore few choices.
This is I think a key factor in PEI politics where so many voters look to a top down paternal government to solve their problems and to give them work. We have the political system that we have I think as a result.
This strong equilibrium is held more tightly because of I think two things. The well-educated tend to leave the Island, making the education skew worse and our electoral districts are so small that a hundred voters can lose you your seat. How can you consider tough change when your seat losing voters don't want it and look to you for all the answers to their life's problems?
PEI has started to think about electoral reform. My sense is that we are too sensitive a system and that larger districts and fewer MLA's would help. But I have no confidence that this will fly - do you?
I think that our Conservative mindset will therefore lead us to a crisis rather than a soft landing.
There are many sign s that our potato industry and our fishery are very vulnerable to a crisis. So is Tourism. It is easy to see how this may happen with border closing and health related excuses (Mad Cow, wart, SARs - how about Foot and Mouth?). These industries pay for our way of life - roads,schools, healthcare .
It will then be change or die and those who wanted no change will demand it - while of course blaming the last government for not acting!
So what do we do? Give up?
I don't think so. Ideas are powerful things and take time and circumstances to become accepted. What we are talking about in this course are ideas that most don't know of and have no meaning. Most people think that if we only worked harder at what we are doing now that everything will be OK. They are in the old valley. But if you are working to build a link to the next valley, it will be there when the time comes.
When a crisis happens there is a vacuum - often a vacuum of the right next idea. I suspect that, like the canary in the mine, PEI's crisis will happen earlier than most, other economies are more robust, but all industrial systems are vulnerable. If we are first and we have a critical mass of thinking going on already about using nature as our guide, we will come out of this earlier and as a leader.
We are not on our own here on PEI. What gives me most hope is that when the bifurcation comes it will shock the heartland even more than us. They will hang on longer because they are so invested in the old system. It made their success.
Deep in Islanders is a practical memory of living with nature. We are only one generation away from a group that "knew" nature because most Islanders worked directly with it and in it. Ideas about using nature a sa model will have an easier sell in a crisis her than in Ontario - what do you think?
© Copyright 2003 Robert Paterson.