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"Conversation. What is it? A Mystery! It's the art of never seeming bored, of touching everything with interest, of pleasing with trifles, of being fascinating with nothing at all. How do we define this lively darting about with words, of hitting them back and forth, this sort of brief smile of ideas which should be conversation?" Guy de Maupassant

Friday, June 27, 2003

Corporate Blogging - Serious Play - 2

And the discussion continues ....... points .... counterpoints .... more points .... more counterpoints ....

Tom picks up the thread on corporate blogging again and says at his blog 'commonplaces' :

The notion that ''blogs'' are something that in and of themselves possess magical properties to change "business as usual," or the political landscape, or much of anything else, derives, I'd venture, from a confusion of means and ends.

It is not about blogs, which are merely a means for the human -- as individual, or group, or polis -- to explore and discover and perhaps to gain some tenuous additional hold on what and where and who "we" have been, can be, and could arrive at being. What is interesting is not trackbacks or power curves or wiki or RSS or Harvardian Rules of Blog Anality and Stultification. Rather, what is interesting (to me at least) is what these curious mechanisms and their contents might (however unwittingly) reveal about the mind and the soul and the spirit and the body and the memory and the desire and the imagination and the languages of the beings who keep trying to understand blogs.

Blogs aren't an end in themselves for sure, or the 'magic mantra' that redefines business.  But they can, along with other tools like wikis and forums, provide a playground for companies to prototype and innovate.  I used the term Serious Play in the title of my earlier post on this issue - and reading Tom's views,  i'm inclined to clarify that i was alluding to the process described by Michael Schrage in his book by the name. And the basic premise of the book is his stance that innovative prototypes can infact generate innovative teams. Further, he shows why innovative firms cannot seriously plan unless they seriously play. 

Add to that the essence of this post from Jim McGee - More gifts; if you share, you learn - where he first links to Ton Zijlstra's blog post - Dropping Names, or, Who said that, and then makes two interesting observations :

"A continuation of a little snowball I started rolling a few weeks back. Courtesy of Ton I learn still more new and interesting things about the little proverb I had picked up along the way.

This little blog-thread illustrates a couple of important points. First it's a prime counter-example to offer to those who say knowledge management can't work because people won't share. Ton. David, Lilia, and I have never met face to face but they've become new colleagues in my worldwide network of people I trust. Sharing begets sharing. It only takes a few seeds planted to start the sharing. If you happen to be in an organization that has no one willing to take this kind of small risk, you've got deeper problems than I want to deal with.

I suspect that the real reason behind people raising the sharing myth is not organizational resistance. It's fear of looking stupid; not in front of your peers, but in front of whoever taught your English class back in primary school. That gets to the second point this exchange illustrates. I didn't worry about whether I had everything right when I posted the story that got this all started. I made the point I wanted to make and I fessed up to my ignorance at the same time. What I got in return for that tiny bit of risk was the opportunity to learn some neat new stuff and a couple of more strands linking me into the web that links people together. Seems like an awful big return for a tiny little risk."

Add 'if you share, you learn' to the playground and you just might have a powerful platform for innovation through collaboration. 

11:45:31 PM    comment []  trackback []

Corporate Blogging - Serious Play ?

Now isn't this a neat example of how blogging can be like a piece of jazz.  And how conversational and collaborative blogging can add value to an idea.  

Allan (among many others) picks up on the NY Times article on Corporate Blogging and does a neat analysis.

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This is built on by Stuart, in which he calls for a decentralisation and suggests "please keep it simple". 

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I add my two-bits by raising some issues a manager would need to address when considering corporate blogging, and link to Tom's review.  And add another post on how to start with small steps to get executives to recognise the power of blogs.

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Allan picks up Stuart's post, my post, and adds Jeneane's review, taking the discussion forward.  He says " ... and I know there's no magic pill, process or methodology that will give rise to the organic emergence of corporate or marketing-oriented blogs, but I'm encouraged by the discussion, debate and interest in this type of blog. I mean how many political and knitting blogs do we need? Aren't businesses, like humans, just trying to be better communicators so that everyone can have healthier and more rewarding relationships? Let's define objectives as we encourage our clients or businesses to embrace blogging.  Because blogging is here to stay. ...."

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Stuart then blogs Blogpaste Wisdom - hugely entertaining in its tone, and insightful in his vision of an Agency developing Collaborative Live Brand Communities. 

(Should have done a better diagram here to demonstrate this - but its a lazy Friday afternoon!)

This is not to exclude all the other really interesting stuff being written in this area by the bloggers mentioned above, and by many many other bloggers across the globe, only an attempt to demonstrate how an issue can be picked up and taken forward across blogs.  Am not sure i've got the chronology right - but thats not the point really. Its the conversations across blogs and the potential for building something in this area that excites me.  

I had blogged this piece written by Doug Little earlier but will do it again because it seems to encapsulate the essence of the example above so well :

"What I play will inspire the drummer to play something. The drummer might inspire me to play something. The musicians listen to one another and make spontaneous decisions. The possibilities are endless. It is always within the form and it is always interconnected with each person but it is never the same."

And taken forward,

"The joy of performing is the group sound. I can't play  whatever I want whenever I want. Jazz is democratic  music and everybody gets to solo but only within the  context of the whole. The group is what is the most important thing. Sometimes the best thing for me to do is  not to play. And to respect another's musical space. When I do solo, I still have to pay attention to what the  rhythm behind me is. I can't ignore it. I have to be a part of that. Playing in a group means giving up some of your  space for the group. If a band isn't playing with any interaction, I walk out because it is no fun."

Makes me wonder whether its time to string together all this intellectual capital into a shared space dedicated to this area of corporate blogging and evolve a working proposition.  A community blog ? A wiki ? A forum ? All three ? Anyone interested ?

6:56:00 PM    comment []  trackback []

Military uses Chat in Iraq

Thanks Clay

There's an interesting article over at Federal Computer Week on the military's use of chat in Iraq.

A Navy commander who recently returned from the Middle East said today that chat and secure telephones were the primary communications circuits Navy ships used at sea during the war.
And, in a discovery that will astonish no one whose ever seen a transcript of #hottub on irc, they came to this conclusion.
However, chat quickly became overused in some situations, including one chat room at the Combined Air Operations Center that had 900 people participating at once, said Navy Cmdr. Tim Sorber [...] Such a large number of people in a chat room "is a nightmare," Sorber said.
And, of course, exclusivity intrudes:
[...] some users were communicating privately with one another, or "whispering," during chats so that they didn't clog the main conversation. This became problematic because the whisperers were brokering important deals that cut other decision-makers out of the loop. This caused the commander to quickly outlaw the practice, Sorber said.

Given that chat has now clearly become a core tool, it will be interesting to see what regulations governing its use emerge in the post-war climate. [Corante: Social Software]

Extend it to the corporate world and IM in companies and you may have similar issues being raised, and lessons to be learned.  Regulations and monitoring the system, a complete ban on it as the Commander issued .... lets see how this evolves. 

6:39:15 PM    comment []  trackback []