Sunday, 30 September 2007

A line in the sand!

Time to stop thinking so much about Dconstruct07 and attendant ideas. I should really present some sort of summary. I want to start thinking more about how to re-think our intranet. Hopefully the podcasts of the presentations will be out soon, to reinforce ideas and maybe spark off new ones, particularly around the presentations I have not mentioned.

The concept of the website not being your product and examining the potential dislocation and reuse of your data will remain with me. It is quite clear that this is the case from my own web use over the past year or so. Much of the content I use, is consumed elsewhere from where it was generated. And where I visit them some of the best websites just get out of the way and let me get the content I am after with the minimum fuss. This is just reinforced by the idea of not letting your design get in the way.

All things being equal, the experience is key. That resonates also, however with one caveat. There are sites that I visit regularly that have a bad user experience, it is just that the data I am after can only come from one place, if I have absolutely no option I will do almost anything to get important content. As I tried to explore with my evil iPod post, there are occasions where you can sell the experience almost separate from the content, I fear that is not the case where I work though (here the bottom line seems to be that content and access to it is king).

For me Dconstruct07 was surprisingly weak on community. As I attempted to explain, the large web communities and the meta-communities (I mean communities of people that have something to do with building communities) possibly don't teach us the best lessons (that are applicable to the average business with an online presence). As was pointed out in a meeting at work recently, a community can easily form online via forums and wikis etc., independent of any one company focus. Maybe more appropriate questions are how can you instantiate a community that is out there but has not formed around a nucleus yet? how can you absorb existing communities or stake your claim in them. It no longer feels like attempting to own a community is a good idea.

The biggest realization for me is that my way of thinking and learning has fundamentally changed, handling and processing of information has changed, and how Web2.0 has almost shifted some of my mind and consciousness onto the Internet. I can still remember hearing about RSS and thinking "interesting but how does that help me", still remember thinking the same about del.cio.us etc. etc. (actually I can still remember hearing about email and thinking similar thoughts). Now it is hard to imagine acquiring and experimenting with knowledge without them. Like Jared Spool's chicken sexers, most of us have to acquire this knowledge through experience. If you don't play with the new tools, don't do concrete things with them on a daily basis how can you understand them. Of particular interest to me is the fact that by far the largest learning curve in this area was in my attempts to learn Chinese online and cram as much as I could about linguistics and elearning and Chinese language, rather than at work.

My last thought is a new one, or rather new to me. As I type this I am thinking of the various types of resistance the work environment will place against this new way of thinking (some even justified and requiring care). One perhaps that is not apparently often mentioned is that networking of a similar nature has always occurred. It has always been an important part of senior management life and career progression, also an important part of senior academic life. Like email did to conventional post, some of these new tools are enabaling this type of networking to occur much more easily. Although it appears clear to some that many workers can benefit themselves and their companies this way, perhaps there will be a backlash at senior management level (maybe even unconsciously)

"that is what we do, not them!".

5 comments:

Chinese Study Adviser said...

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