Ming the Mechanic:
BlogWalk 1.0

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 BlogWalk 1.02004-03-19 17:40
picture by Flemming Funch

So, I spent the day at BlogWalk 1.0 here in Enschede, The Netherlands. We didn't really walk and we didn't particular blog much along the way either. But we met at the Telematica Institute and did Open Space and various kinds of group discussions, also over several meals. Just 17 people or so, which gave a good opportunity for staying relatively focused and getting to know each other. Subject mainly being weblogs in knowledge management contexts, but also weblogs in general. So, looking at what functions weblogs might play in institutions and enterprises, and what might be the obstacles to make it happen, or the steps and positioning that might make it work. Obviously the people who are in charge in many organizations have no clue what weblogs are, or, if they do, might have a lot of fears and concerns about how dangerous it would be if people would actually rather freely talk publically about what they do, and even mix it in with their personal life and other interests. What if they reveal company secrets, or make the organization look bad, and that kind of thing. There are problems like that, of defining the lines between private and public, what should be shared and what not, but mostly it is just that people don't understand how it works, and don't realize that it could be a powerful tool for information sharing and relationship building. And in many cases as effective a knowledge management tool as anything else that is out there. There are fancy KM systems that often are not that easy to use, or that stuff can get lost in easily. Whereas a weblog is rather easy, and you don't have to worry very much about where exactly a certain item fits, and you can usually find old items very easily when you need them. And weblogs build up relationships and one's relations help filter information, and various self-organizing things go on that are useful. But is hard to explain the blogosphere to somebody who's totally not tuned into that kind of things, and haven't tried it, and particularly to managers who're afraid of losing control. And, despite that most of the hardcore bloggers can see quite well how it can be beneficial for various kinds of organizations, there seems to be a scarcity of good studies or success stories to show as evidence. Which is important both for the academics studying the phenomenon, and for anybody who tries to introduce a tool like weblogging into an organization.

Anyway, a very enjoyable event with great people. You can find some comments from some of the other guys at TopicExchange.

These BlogWalk events are loosely related to and lead up to the next BlogTalk, which is a bigger event held in Vienna, next July 5-6. And I should be making it there this year.

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21 Mar 2004 @ 10:11 by Jon Husband @ : Blogging in Organizations
A key point re: the use of blogging is, as you have rightly pointed out, that relationships develop, knowledge is shared, and knowledge can get built quite easily - as well as the planning of action - all in a human voice, with commitment behind it.

A key problem for organizations associated with this key point ... is the place from which something starts happening via blogging. The two or more participants take the time, or follow their own style, in terms of getting to know someone and then build rlationship and such from there. Starts from wariness but the willingness to be open to and build trust - whereas, in many organizations, the people have been assigned to "places/roles", and they are friendly with each other, but there are the reward and punishment elements fo performance, getting things right, not wasting time, no play, formal organization/industry jargon, the lack of slack to cover for "oops" or vulnerability, or even the permission to diseent.

Al of these will probably contribute to a pretty difficult environment in which to get good, raucous, flowing, rich conversation happening between people, via blogging. It's cultural, and sociology always trumps technology. So, for getting into organizations and getting to be effective, it's probbly gonna have to come from the leader, the hierarch, who believes in her or his gut in an open culture and a generally egalitarian, high-knowledge, high-play, high-curiosity company and working environment.

Where it would be fun to blog about what is done for work, and make it a way to make some of that work more fun for the individuals doing their part of it. What a great approach where cross-functional teams are necessary.  

21 Mar 2004 @ 13:48 by ming : Organizational Blogging
Yeah, It is a big jump to actually embrace an open culture. At first people might sneak blogging into their organizations by trying to match it with various kinds of roles and outcomes. A way of collaborating on product development; something for human resources to do; an employee morale booster; a way of communicating to customers. But blogging is really such a personal thing that it doesn't really work well to assign outcomes to it, or to try to limit what kind of stuff one is allowed to write about. That sort of becomes a different medium. But it might be a way of getting started, as a guerilla strategy.

But really, to work well, it has to be a commitment to transformation of the whole organization, a commitment to an open, free culture, and an understanding that it will actually work, businesswise. And that can only come from the top and down, if it is a top-down organization.  

21 Mar 2004 @ 15:38 by lugon @ : maybe a mixture?
"Can only come from the top and down".

There's also the freelancers. A number of those will blog if they see it in their interest to be open. Some may even write about the insides of the companies. The companies may then be tempted to sort of "blog back", much as artists who have been misquoted tend to make their own tape recording of the interviews - some have learnt not to trust journalists.

Ok, I don't see that happening massively soon, but it's a possibility. Or maybe not. Time will tell, and I hope we'll see it.  

23 Mar 2004 @ 12:32 by Jon Husband @ : Blogging and Organizations and People
As we know, making money and "business" depends on some "friction" in the exchanges between people, and there are lots of rules about hwat the friction can and should consist of. This is the the problem (and the opportunity ??) for things like blogging.

There's lots of wasted "friction" between people in organizations, for all the wrong reasons - but it's definitely what people are used to and what accommodates (badly) all the ego and power trips between people - because of the competition and the glory of that in our society.

That's something blogging changes too - ego and power, how they are accessed and used.  

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