This website covers knowledge management, personal effectiveness, theory of constraints, amongst other topics. Opinions expressed here are strictly those of the owner, Jack Vinson, and those of the commenters.

BlogWalk Chicago thoughts

It has been several weeks since BlogWalk, and I still have a pile of post-its sitting at my desk.  I'm not sure that there is a single "result" to have come out of the session, though I don't think that was our goal anyway.  Many of the summary post-its are up on the Outcomes page on the wiki, and you can find other posts at TopicExchange.

Rifling through the pile inspires some memories.  Here are some themes from the conversations in which I participated.  Also, see Tom Sherman's summary, which covered some conversations that I didn't find. 

  • Bloggers are passionate people, but that doesn't seem to translate into the traditional corporate culture.  What needs to change about corporate culture to enable blogging?  What needs to change about blogging / social software to fit into the current culture?
  • How does a company start using blogs and social software?
  • We all believe in the power of blogging and social software, but how do we convince those outside the circle of the value? Where do we start?
  • The tools themselves need to work better for more adoption at the corporate level.

Below you will find brain dumps, quotes and ideas from the post-its themselves. 

  • Discussion of credibility and how it is established: blogrolls, blog ads, sponsorship.  I wonder if this is the right conversation, given that there are millions of public bloggers.  And within a company, you get credibility by the fact that you are an employee and therefore have the "right" to speak to your expertise.
  • My opml file represents the people I trust - the people I find credible.  But this is only true of my "regular reads" folder.  I also have an "ignore" folder of people I have stopped reading and don't want to re-add to my aggregator by mistake.
  • A need to have better tools came up a number of times.  I'm interested around helping deal with information overload.  eg: Better feed readers - better processing of web feeds.  Where do taxonomies / folksonomies / semantic web fit into this picture?
  • Where does personality belong in a blog?  It comes out in the nature of writing, unless you use a very formal style. 
  • Quote: "What do you want your blog to be when it grows up?"
  • Idea: Play a form of fantasy baseball with blog authors and topics.
  • Do blogs change or reinforce the corporate social milieu?  Quote: "Who is the village idiot?" 
  • Does social software bring out ideas that might otherwise get buried?  Rick Klau at KM Chicago argued a connection to The Long Tail and that social KM tools should turn up the buried but useful things that corporate KM would ignore.  Or is the problem of information overload shifted to simply another environment? 
  • Quote from Matt Homann: "We are starving artists."  We write because we are passionate about our topic, and it is difficult to think beyond our passions to consider how to get paid.  I wonder if this is the source of problems with Marc Canter's project with Marqui.  How do you monetize social whuffie?  Reference The Artists Way
  • Quote: "The value (of blogging / social software) is in sharing stuff you don't have to."  Interesting connection to the starving artist meme and to The Cathedral and the Bazaar.  Particularly within a company, people perceive their jobs as one thing and writing and communicating as something that gets in the way.  For the people that "get" social software, are they doing it as extra work or as part of their paid work?
  • Something that wasn't in the post-its: Why do we talk about internal blogging as geared to a specific task, when independent bloggers tend to focus on the things that interest them?  In other words, why focus on "project blogging" within companies, when the best bloggers write about their passions, not their projects?
  • Lots of stuff about ideas and emergence in discussing the nature of business and whether social software makes sense.   How do ideas emerge?  Why do crowds develop around some topics and not others?  How can an organization make this happen to their benefit?  Maybe the right information should emerge, rather than being proscribed?  Are control and emergence antithetical? 
  • What encourages emergence: conditions, participants, tools, processes?
  • How do we support convergence from emergent, independent, passionate people?  Maybe internal bloggers need people to do summarizing for them? 
  • Does the Wisdom of Crowds apply to blogging in the business context?
  • Blognosing: the blogging version of brown-nosing (currying favor with management).
  • Claim: Companies live and die on information.  Expanding access to people gives us more access and awareness of information.  The information is required to make useful decisions.  Some discussion of the value of a decision informing the value of the underlying information.
  • "Blogging requires interaction" was something I wrote.  To blog within a company, I have to assume people are going to be reading what I have to say, which is tacit interaction with readers.  The way I blog, also implies that I will interact with the people and things about which I blog. 
  • Results of social software in business: shared presence, always on, more data, more dispersed, shared work, less disconnects, faster, more collective, knowledge access, co-creation.
  • Is work changing?  What work is best impacted by social software?  What might not benefit from social software?  Some ideas about sequential and parallel work, that collaboration = parallel. 
  • What is important in learning: critical reading skills; navigating the sea of information; social networking skills.
  • How to teach "navigation:"  tools, information, people, network, relationships.  Personal knowledge management.
  • How do we evaluate tools (educationally or otherwise): read the manual, hit F1 (online help), random clicks, friends and colleagues.
  • Changing organizational boundaries from the traditionally closed organization to the new model of open and social organizations.  Is this really that different from what has happened before?  Is this change more evident with small and medium businesses than it is within large companies?  Isn't this similar to the scientific community model, where research and ideas are shared (to a point)? 
  • Do these organizational boundaries provide ANY value?  Must they be destroyed completely? 
  • Without destroying the organization completely, any change must come from within: either bubbling up from the bottom or by people at the top nudging the system in new directions.  In any case, it needs to be "okay" for the change to happen.  
  • How to create appropriate incentives (and disincentives) for information, ideas and action?
  • What separates BlogWalk participants from the mainstream?  What makes it hard for us to understand the mainstream?  Many of these ideas seem obvious to us, but not so much to the people outside our circle. 
  • What will it take for enterprise blogging to take off?
  • Why is "the enterprise" discussed in the third person, when it is we the people who comprise the enterprise?  The third person makes it easier to blame something else for things not working.
  • Model of a pilot blogging project: Blog Pilot.
  • How do I make the case that investment in social software and supporting new practices is worthwhile? 
  • What work change needs to happen to make me comfortable that social software makes sense? 
  • Are blogs "collaborative" for a novice?  A blog in isolation is not collaborative, just as a website in isolation is lonely.  But it becomes collaborative as the owner of that blog begins commenting on other bloggers and websites.  To use the buildings metaphor: when the blogger comes out of their house and sits on their porch or in the cafe, they start to become collaborative.  The blog isn't collaborative, the people writing them are.
  • When blogging becomes "work," what happens to the quality and passion?  Perception that the sense of community will suffer.  Maybe we should stop talking about blogging at that point.  Maybe there is a split between blogging my passions and using the tools within business. 
  • How do information mediators find one another?  Particularly in spheres dominated by "retrograde anti-emergent structures?"  How do passionate people express their passion when no one wants to hear it?
  • What happens if a group using these tools realizes their organization does not support them? 
  • How do we build identity and reputation across contexts: internal vs. external; topic A vs B?  Is reputation within the organization the same as reputation outside the organization? 


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