I found occasion to write down initial thoughts on this for a friend which became an email. Seems more appropriate as a blog posting, so here it is. This will hopefully form the basis for subsequent thinking/blogging on this subject.
Demonstration of Valididay
See http://www.tompetersnew.com/. "The" Tom Peters of Managing for Excellence Fame as discovered blogs and has, according to his web site, "We've also become enamored of various blogs and blogging software, and so we said, "Let's bloggify Tom." I point out this site only to show the growing "acceptance" of this new wave.
See http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/3734981.stm for the BBC news report of Bill Gates telling the executives who recently attended his party that "blogs are good for business". Again, another indication of the "wave".
Interestingly, there a many blogs now done by Microsoft employees. Truly something is happening in that corporation. For example, I like reading Bob Scoble's blog from http://radio.weblogs.com/0001011/. He seems to have taken (or given?) the role of bridging inside/outside Microsoft. Another Microsoft example is Eric Rudder http://msdn.microsoft.com/blogs/ericr/ who is near the top of Microsoft.
I like reading Joel on Software http://www.joelonsoftware.com/. Very eloquent writer. Ex Microsoft and now runs his own software firm in NYC. Their product CityDesk is attractive for this stuff.
I enjoy reading Andrew Sullivan http://www.andrewsullivan.com/, Instapundant http://www.instapundit.com/, Steven Johnson http://www.stevenberlinjohnson.com/, Belgravia Dispatch http://www.belgraviadispatch.blogspot.com/ and Jeff Jarvis http://www.buzzmachine.com/. Jerry Pournelle's http://www.jerrypournelle.com/mail/ is interesting as it really is a blog, but he's been doing this for years and years, before blogs became fashionable. He's a science fiction writer with work experience in the US aerospace programme, writing for Byte, etc.
Things to Notice about Blogs
- They provide links, and attribution, to the things they are talking about. You can go see for your self.
- They provide links to other sites/blogs/etc. of interest to them. This personifies the "web" as a network of related information. There the links are high quality since they are vetted by the person doing the publishing.
- They use specialised software which provides the "standard". Tools like Moveable Type, Blogger, etc. These tools support open standards, e.g. RSS (Really Simple Syndication). Most tools are free, or very low cost if for commercial purposes.
My blog, which I'm experimenting with, is at http://www.rmschneider.com/blogger/ It has been found by the search engines and gets a growing number of hits. Not very many. Not very interesting, but it's just something I'm experimenting with not to get hits or attention, but only to explore the work process one has to adopt to be a blog "contributor" vs. a blog "consumer".
There are lots. Some ones I have experience with are:
- Movable Type (what I would probably implement in a company). http://movabletype.org/
- Blogger (what I use for my experimental blog). http://www.blogger.com/. Now owned by Google. Will be taken along for a significant "ride" with Google as they do their thing.
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and is the catalyse for a lot of this taking off. The reader can "pull" RSS feeds from where they want. I use Newsgator (www.newgator.com) with Microsoft Outlook and I pull feeds from blogs of interest which greatly simplifies my work processes. In addition, I get feeds from traditional media, e.g. New York Times, Washington Post, etc.
I can't help but think that these simple tools are the way to forward. I'm less than enthralled with buying big "Knowledge Management" applications ... even though I know that's supposed to be what is supposed to happen in big corporations but I don't think it's the way to go. Keep it simple. Do it the way the world is doing it.
I haven't yet formulated my thoughts in a manner which can easily be written down. I'm bullish on "blogs". This is based on my previous experience over many years of similar sorts of things inside my previous employer. My first exposure to a lot of this sort of stuff was in the mid 1980's with IBM's "GroupTalk" product (used in the engineering organsition to a very limited extent), and the Internet's newsgroups and mailing lists (used in the corporate research organisation to a relatively large extent even though it was before the Internet was known as "the Internet".
Accordingly, it is arguable that what's happening today with blogs is not new. True. However, for a generation of people they are new and it is the way the new generation works and expects to work. It isn't going way.
I've decided I'm going to start to write something down, and maybe even "blog" it so that you and anyone else can watch the thoughts grow. It will center around my "Noise to Knowledge" theory (see below).
As a starting point see:
Sharing knowledge in organisations through blogging?
By Jonathan Briggs http://www.reengage.org/go/Article_222.html
5 Blognet Justifications http://www.dijest.com/aka/categories/projectManagement/ Other articles at this page are also good reading. **NOTE: These 5 justifications hit at the heart of your question.**
Publishing a Project Web Log, by Jon Udell http://www.infoworld.com/article/03/03/28/13stratdev_1.html. Jon has been long involved with this and even wrote a seminal book on this which was "before it's time" http://press.oreilly.com/pub/pr/885. The technology has moved on, but the knowledge processes Jon describes in this book are very valid.
Chad Dickerson takes on using blogs for IT (project?) documentation ... something that should be of great value and I think his ideas are on mark. http://www.infoworld.com/article/04/02/27/09OPconnection_1.html
This page http://blogs.ittoolbox.com/ provides links to some blogs. I just discovered this researching the email to you. I’m going to do some further reading here. IT-related, but just translate to your own environment.
Noise to Knowledge
Finally, see http://www.rmschneider.com/writing/Noise2Knowledge.html where I have briefly outlined what I really think about all this from a higher level perspective. Basically, I feel there are three identifiable clumps of information in the knowledge workers world:
2. learnings, and
Whatever work processes or tools are used, all three "clumps@ tneed to be handled with supurb tools. I believe that those organisations that can provide world class tools and nurture world class work processes supporting all three distinct "clumps" of information as it moves between "noise to knowledge" will become and continue thereafter to be world-class organisations.
Email is dead. Long live email.