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Workspace Collaboration: A New Hope May 25, 2007

Posted by Jeff in collaboration, corporate.

I work at a large company and not a day goes by when I don’t think that there has to be a better way (or in some cases, just *some* way) to efficiently share information between a large group of people spread across different teams and different time zones.

One of the things that I find surprisingly difficult is explaining how to improve corporate collaboration to other people. I never really considered myself to be on the cutting edge of the web and software development. I mean, seriously, I just started my first blog in late 2006! (At least 50 million blogs behind being considered an early adopter.) But I find that I am often met with blank stares when I mention Web 2.0 to my co-workers – never mind talking about some of the defining technologies and tools that people are using everyday on the Web. I believe (hope) that this is primarily because a large, corporate IT environment has a tendency to be so conservative that it prevents it’s own people from benefiting from these new advances that are ubiquitous in the “outside” world. It’s not that people don’t want to know about these things – but there is rarely any incentive for them to try. In fact, not only is it often difficult to introduce these new ideas and technologies, but even simply using them can be seen as lazy and wasteful in such a conservative environment.

The good news is that even though I don’t consider myself an overly optimistic person by nature, I truly believe that there is a real opportunity with social computing and Enterprise 2.0 to move some pretty big mountains and change some of the underlying culture in large organizations.

On the other hand I am not optimistic enough to think that it will be quick or easy.


Blind Leading the Blind May 22, 2007

Posted by Jeff in general, RSS.
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Can someone please tell me why a site such as Social Computing Magazine does not have a very easy to find RSS feed? By “easy to find” I mean any kind of link to a feed – ideally one easily identified with one of those ubiquitous orange icons (like Feed icon or XML icon). Considering that RSS is one of the fundamental building blocks of social software such as blogs, the absence of the easily accessible feeds is extra conspicuous. These people are supposed to “get” Web 2.0, etc. but this kind of behaviour makes me think that they might just be jumping on the Web 2.0 bandwagon.

BTW – there apparently is a feed available for the site. Thanks to Firefox for finding it for me.

 Update June 7, 2007. Wow! I must have some serious influence. I went to the Social Computing Magazine site today, and there was a nice orange XML icon right there on the main menu. I guess that they *do* get Web 2.0.

What about a whiteboard? May 17, 2007

Posted by Jeff in blog, collaboration.

I recently was discussing collaboration strategies within our department with a colleague of mine, when he made an interesting point. To paraphrase: “You know what will happen when we start talking about collaboration? There will be a 6 month corporate initiative to implement some over-engineered tools that are already obsolete. You know what I would really like to see? A big, whiteboard setup right at the entrance where people could just write down what is going on and what issues they are facing…”

I just kind of laughed and nodded politely, but the more I thought about it the more it made sense on some basic level. To me, the underlying issue that he was getting at was a need to change the fundamental way that people in the office think about sharing information. The tools are only the enablers for people willing to use them. That’s why I think that the success of collaboration in Enterprise 2.0 has to be primarily driven from the bottom-up.

I guess that is part of the reason I am writing here: this blog is my own whiteboard. Feel free to write on it too.