Blogs as Conversation, and Wikis as Diaries – Not Exactly

Interesting post from Gharan (via Jack) on Blogs as conversations. I wrote about a topic a few months ago, and it sparked a spirited series of emails within my working group. The notes began to lose consistency and flow of thought, as we ended up semi-debating tangential ideas. So, the best way to drive right to the heart of the matter – out to the local hot-dog stand for lunch and some good, face to face discussion. It was interesting / amazing to note how much of our ideas and common ground got lost via the medium.

<aside> I always like to think …

  • Don’t eMail if you can Instant Message
  • Don’t IM if you can phone
  • Don’t phone if you can walk down and chat

… always best to get face to face. </aside>

I prefer to think of a blog as a form of diary, or possibly my personal/professional bulletin board or op-ed page. In the internal / corporate / professional setting, I see the opportunity to replace the dreaded Status Report – the summary by week/month, or by project/system, of all the Stuff that I just did, plus what’s “on the radar” for the next few days.

<aside>Why blog internally? There is definitely value in sharing the information, but the typical method – circulating emails or Word documents – generally suffers from a lack of “sustainability”, or permanence. It’s usually just too difficult to implement format standards and history retention / search functionalty, so an awful lot of “situational knowledge capture” is wasted as the information’s life span ends when the readers review for the first (and typically last) time. Blogs, on the other hand, facilitate a standard look/feel, delivery via multiple efficient, time-shifting, on-demand methods, and a permanence and searchability that is lightweight (ie. no expensive document management software required) and easier to integrate with other document capture methods.</aside>

Externally or internally, however, I find feedback (comments and trackbacks) are valuable, but reasonably limited. There are other types of collaboration / communications tools that incorporate threaded conversations (such as issue tracking systems and forums) that are better suited to the whole “conversational” aspect of blogging, and a complete environment will incorporate those as well.

The Wiki concept is making its way into the group as well, but again we’re going through some experiential learning about what type of knowledge capture each is suited for. Some are having fun with the “funny names”, but unfortunately we are talking about using Wikis as a replacement for the Status Report (Wiki as Diary). I’m fairly confident that most folks don’t really “get” what a Wiki is (think “live” collaboration and shared authoring of a reference book) until they actually create and/or work with one. I am actively looking for that “first case” where we can identify something relevant and value-adding – and then toss the organization into the mosh pit, and see what happens.

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James MacLennan

... is the Managing Partner at Maker Turtle LLC, a digital consultancy focused on creating value in ways that align with your strategy and drive engagement with employees, customers, and stakeholders. He is an active creator, providing thought leadership through on-line & print publications, and public speaking / keynotes.