The value of what you write and the value of conversational data
Does it matter, you ask?
Well the first step is that you ask the question – that you’re conscious about it. Then you start to think, to what purpose do I write and how does the function of Word, email or collaborative space fit those purposes? Up until now, the default has been Word (or MS Office) and email.
However, at some stage or another you have probably wondered if a Word document file or email is the right habitat for the valuable work you do in writing. Developing content/intelligent is not a one-man show.
Consider these claims from Developing intelligence in the Enterprise 2.0 world:
The nature of collaborative work:
- Any work we do is at one stage or another (if not all) collaborative in nature
- When we collaborate our work is enhanced and enriched (given more value)
(if we live in a true collaborative workspace that gives the right kind of output and receives the right kind of input)
- In any work we do, somebody (or something?) else in our workgroup/company/related companies or organisations (even or most surely competitors)/country/the world, is/has been/will be working on the same or related issues.
- Collaboration is the only true form of information/knowledge gathering
- Any knowledge not shared is worthless
When it comes to collaborative effort MS Word or Office are not the right tools – they were not made for that, they were made with the typewriter metaphor: appearance/print-out first, then content. If you don’t understand what I mean – see what happens when several people try to work on the same Word document. The Track Changes or comments quickly becomes messy as it mingles content changes and format/appearance changes. No. we need it in this order: First content, content and content, collaborative content. This is the important, the meat, the content of what we’re writing and getting feedback and multiple inputs, who cares about print-out or if it has the right fonts, etc. at that stage. A PDF generator that picks the right information items is a trivial task at the end.
And as you know – email has NEVER been a good content/information container.
No, for real knowledge work, that certainly entails collaborative efforts, we need real collaborative tools. I’m sorry that we’ve been fooled into thinking for so long that MS Office type applications is where we should put our valued work in writing. No actually, simple pure Hypertext systems (ie. how the Internet and www work) are better suited for collaborative work than MS Office (see : Burton Group’s Peter O’Kelly said it so right (see page 2 of this presentation))
Do we agree that collaborative tools are the name of the game? That’s where we need to put our efforts and writings. That’s where it will live and develop. Next time you write something, don’t put it in an email or a Word document. Put it in a collaborative space using real collaborative tools.
Let’s see. Can we agree on some characteristics/attributes of real collaborative tools?
- First, do we agree on the value of collaborative work as expressed in the bullet-points above here and as envisioned/expressed by Internet/www pioneers like: Vannevar Bush, Doug Engelbart and Tim Berners-Lee (see: Collective Intelligence) ?
- The master artifact of a collaborative space/tool is the Information Item. This is the atom of the collaborative fabric. The tool needs to respect/value this entity and be very clever at handling. For example any paragraph I write will be an information item and should be http referencable. This is necessary to be eble to develop any content collaboratively. I think Dion Hinchcliffe expresses some good principles in Web-oriented architecture.
- Thus it follows that all functionality, security etc. needs to be around the information item, not only the space, article, blog etc. Ie. a discussion thread or information stream will contain several information units, but may appear differently to different users depending on their access rights. But nevertheless it’s all kept in the same context/thread. See an example here
- I question whether it is wise to spread our collaborative/conversational data out on several tools/platforms. It might not matter because it is all referencable (ie we can link to the discussion thread), but why have so many tools, it is not user-friendly, and usually it is the ERP/CRM or whatever vendor that tells us we should use their conversational tool. But what if we found one good conversational tool that covered all our needs. It could be used in all settings and application environments. We need to transcend the tool world and embrace the issue/case/subject. It is this (the issue) that need to be followed/developed, etc., spanning multiple tool-environments and easy to track and find.
- what more ….
- (be my guest) …..
The value of conversational data
See this video with Patrice Livingston – describing the importance of conversational data as part of the context for explaining the why’s and how’s of an article/work/effort. The whole session is worth listening to for real work-life experiences, but consider the thoughts she expresses at 3:37 and at 11:20