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The Right Web 2.0 Tool for The Job

I’ve had many discussions over the past few weeks on this post, trying to define the difference between Blogs, Discussion Forums, Wikis, and other Web 2.0-style collaboration tools. In a particularly interesting tight loop this morning, I got into an IM conversation on the issue via my little Web 2.0 Meebo widget, tucked away in the corner of my blog.

Over the course of the conversation, my colleague “introduced” himself with a reference to his blog – The Best of Enterprise 2.0. Sr. Fontestad first asked a followup question …

[09:29] Rafa, Cranfield Univ. UK: […] in this era of eMail overload, which will be the suitable uses once we have these tools integrated? Not group mails any more?

[09:31] jpmacl: group mails – no. eMail has it’s place, though – maybe the rough rule is that eMail is good for “discussions”, “conversations between two people >with limited value in sharing that knowledge with others<

[09:31] jpmacl: ie. if it’s an interesting email discussion – move the thread to a forum

[09:31] jpmacl: and if it’s something that many should hear, use a blog

Here, I’m writing about one of my frustrations with the ingrained, eMail-centric mainstream; so often, so much good knowledge is buried in the in-boxes of our neighbors, gone forever when they leave the company; invisible – unless you were in on the thread. No chance for the sort of opportunistic knowledge sharing possible when content is exposed to a decent search engine.

[09:32] Rafa, Cranfield Univ. UK: […] then you talk about something interesting that i didn’t think before…

[09:33] Rafa, Cranfield Univ. UK: …communication channels will be changing depending on the maturity of the discussion…

[09:33] Rafa, Cranfield Univ. UK: …i.e. what it could start as an email… will move to a discussion… then to a wiki… then to a blog… right?

[09:34] jpmacl: some might say that even the “immature discussion” should be over a collaboration medium, but maybe not …

[09:34] jpmacl: now we are seeing folks write about the maturing of the blogosphere

[09:34] jpmacl: and people should not blog in short bursts

[09:34] jpmacl: but create longer articles and such

[09:34] jpmacl: (short bursts contribute to the “noise”

[09:35] jpmacl: no value add)

I’ve seen this “maturing of the blogosphere” idea in some passing posts (all riffs off of the recent WSJ article) – that’s the optimist’s view. I think it will take a lot of effort and training to get folks to stop in the middle of an email thread and think Hmmm … maybe we should move this to a forum, where others can watch the conversation …

[09:32] jpmacl: trick is the author needs to see themself as a knowledge creator, and every electronic communication is potentially a “knowledge event”

This idea just came to me as I was IM’g; the challenge has always been to get the person who has the knowledge to take the time and interest, and capture that knowledge for others. I think this only works when the author understands they are writing not only for their direct audience, but a much larger group of potential readers – separated by

  • space (other areas of the company working on similar projects)
  • time (two years from now, we’ll want to understand past thinking on this problem so we don’t reinvent any wheels)
  • specific topic (research / data in one discipline can be applied in many others)

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