Internal communication blogs are more valuable than email when it comes to the potential of using this same information as a public knowledge base.
Email is the killer web application, but there are also other tools, like blogs, to use for communications.
Here is a list about the use of blogs for communications:
1. Avoid broadcast emails that don’t concern you (instead you can subscribe to the blog - RSS or email, choosing what is sent to you…push vs. pull)
2. Using blog posts instead of emails allows these communications to be stored in a central repository, instead of lost in silos.
3. Each post has a permalink, and you can use comments to discuss (otherwise people may email reply to select people, leaving others to miss out on the discussion).
4. Browse by author, date, month, category, tag…it’s a database I suppose…also full-text search.
Categories/tags provide some sort of context when browsing, and post title is similar to an email subject line.
(I’m yet to see fielded search on a blog, ie. search in the title, author, category, tag, date, etc…)
5. Besides publishing, organising, subscription, notifying, and storing searchable communications in the one go, the blog can also act as a portal by displaying stuff on the sidebar.
6. A new staff member can easily catch the gist of what’s going on by reading the blog, and checking out the links on the sidebar.
People outside the business unit can get a glimpse into the going ons of another business unit…even subscribe
(you may be interested in changing jobs within the same firm, by viewing and/or subscribing to a business unit blog you can get an idea of what’s going on).
Everyone can author the blog, anyone can view the blog.
7. Re-syndicate the contents of the blog to different sections of the intranet, or wherever…people can read your contents; at your blog, in an RSS Reader, in an email client, RSS to IM, RSS to SMS, desktop ticker, menu or browser or system tray reader, desktop widget, or at a website that re-syndicates the contents…also as a an intranet search result.
8. Since it is a simple publishing platform, it may encourage the sharing of tacit knowledge.
9. Since this information is centralised for people to view, it may avoid re-inventing the wheel, or a related business unit may borrow concepts from another business unit, leading to innovations.
Communication, awareness, discovery, sharing, community, innovation, ideas, feedback, discussion, access, advancement…
What about Forums?
Although you can use forums to communicate and discuss, they don’t compare to blogs for date based content for communications, announcements, etc…also blog content is more organised, and blogs can act as portals.
Blogs have trackbacks/pinging so they are distributed conversations, but this conversation may not be about a precise topic, they are in conversation because they are linking to each other, the blog posts don’t have a stipulation to be entirely about the topic.
Blogs also have comments, so a discussion can take place only if a blogger has inspired one with a blog post…the commentors can only react to the blogger, they can’t start a discussion unless they have a blog.
Another thing is the distributed nature of blog conversations is open for anyone to join as blog posts are discoverable in the blogosphere…whereas people outside of a forum are unlikely to participate if they are not a member, or don’t even know the forum exists…of course in an enterprise there is less likely chance of this happenning.
So as you can see forums revolve around one website, where anyone can start a topic, and the discussion has to stay on topic, and is moderated…whereas blogs have authors who, on their soapbox, can blog about anything.
Since blogs are more author centric, it is ideal as a personal space geared to tease out tacit knowledge…people may feel intimidated to add discussion to forums, where blogs are less pressure.
In saying this, forums have their place, great for threaded discussions about a topic, a place to ask questions…once a discussion has come to an end a blog can be used to publish the findings…this published blog post can also instigate a discussion via comments/trackbacks.
Here are some posts on blogs and forums:
What are the Differences Between Message Boards and Weblogs?
Weblog as Online Community Management Tool
Blogs and Bulletin Boards
Online Forums vs Blogs
Blurring the Line Between Weblogs and Discussion Forums
Email Lists and Message Boards: Together at Last?
Conversations: Tree People and Cave Dwellers
Pondering how to notify different groups of people of updates on a blog.
The blog could cover the Technical team, the Functional team, the Management team…all these teams may be under the same business unit.
If it has one feed, then Technical people will be notified of posts that may only be relevant to Functional people…we want to avoid this type of irrelevany.
Maybe it won’t have RSS feeds or email subscription…when ever a post is made an email is pushed to the relevant email group.
Or maybe each category can be labelled an email group name, so the relevant group can subscribe to a category feed instead of the main feed.
But I want categories to be topics, not the name of a group of people.
Maybe each post can have a tag, this tag is a group name…if the post is relevant to only the Technical group, the post is tagged “technical”, and the Technical group can subscribe to the “technical” tag RSS feed.
So you can have the main feed, comments feed, category feeds, tag feeds (there would only be a tag for each group)…subscribe to the feed that is relevant to you.
Also, each category, and tag feed would need it’s own comments feed.
But what if staff are not savvy to RSS, can email notifications be set to this micro-level?
I suppose I could have a blog for each group within the business unit, then have a master blog river of news portal…I suppose I’m trying to create the functionality of a master blog (an aggregate of blogs) within just one blog.
Another question I asked in an earlier post, can an email group subscribe to a blog…ie. instead of people subscribing to a blog, a group is subscribed to the blog.
When a new staff member joins, they are usually put in an email group…by being in this group they are automatically subscribed to the blog, if they move to a new job position, then they will be changing to a new email group, as a result they will no longer be subscribed to the blog…it’s all managed by riding on the email client groups.
I think subscribing via email groups is a great idea in addition to single email subscriptions…if a new staff member is unaware of the blog (this may happen in large firms) they may miss out on communications.
By belonging to an email group can be your key to belonging to all these services automatically, you won’t know what hit you…maybe the system could be aware that you are new, and each service you belong to sends you a welcoming email.
NOTE: by the term “service” I mean every person in an email group will be subscribed to
a blog/s, wiki, social bookmarks, forums, podcasts, etc…
Also what if 3 different emails groups are subscribed to the blog, and you are in all groups…this will mean you will get 3 email alerts for the same post (I’m sure there’s a way around this).
It would be good to have different views like ListRing, view your blog as a database.
How does OPML fit into all this?
Maybe all blogs can have an OPML URL, so data dumps can be made into other services/applications.
NOTE: Another thing about OPML is that you can code up a raw OPML file, if you know how, and give it a URL…then view this URL in an OPML Browser/Reader/Outliner. What I’m getting at is the OPML doesn’t need its own GUI, you can just whack it into a service to see a more user friendly HTML rendition.
Maybe we can have an outline view of blogs.
Maybe email groups can be wrapped in OPML so they can be transferred into other applications…the OPML email group can represent the individual emails, we can subscribe to a blog with the one object.
Maybe we can share a batch of feeds as a Reading List…now that’s an answer.
A new staff member doesn’t have to be subscribed to all these different feeds automatically via the email group they are in, when they start their job they are informed at induction or emailed to go to their business unit intranet page that lists all the feeds from blogs, bookmarks, forums, wiki’s, podcasts, webpages, etc…(you have to make your own search feeds).
From this page you select a pre-made Reading List for your job type, and if you like you can also check from a selection of feed boxes to add to this Reading List…or even make your own Reading List.
This Reading Digest isn’t propaganda, it’s communal information that would otherwise be communicated in emails…this is content that is created and consumed by the workers and staff at large.
When you browse feed list pages from other business units, you are welcome to add these to your Reading List in one easy click, or create another Reading List
…there can also be a page for people to share their homemade Reading Lists.
Then in your RSS reader (probably built in to your email client) you can subscribe to your own Reading List, job-type Reading Lists, business unit Reading Lists, COP Reading Lists, other peoples Reading Lists, etc…
A discussion around this concept is welcome…I have a comments RSS feed to follow this discussion, or subscribe to the general comments RSS feed if you are interested in other discussions
Newsmastering and collaborative enterprise
Email for correspondence
- audio and video
DMS to store documents
- edit, track, collaborate
Newsmastering portal for external news (business/competitive/academic intelligence)
- create your own “my news page” by selecting from external news, blog, journal, forum, bookmark, wiki, web feeds, or create search feeds from web services
RSS Reader for another way to read content of your “my news”…this way you won’t miss anything
Social bookmarks to collect news, blog, forum, web, wiki, journal items
- even form groups to share items you find in your RSS Reader
- vote for popular items
(the social bookmarks can be a module of the RSS Reader…also post bookmarks from within the RSS Reader)
Internal blog to publish reactions to news, and to publish ideas and thoughts…your own soap box
- comments and trackback for discussion
Newsmastering (master blog) river of news for all the internal blogs
- and of course these internal blog posts can be bookmarked and rated as well
- search engine for internal blogs, forums, bookmarks, wikis (an enterprise Technorati)…also for video, audio casts
- memetracker version
Forums to further discuss specific issues
IM for synchronous discussion…oh yeah, as well as the phone…what about old fashioned f2f
- the idea is to turn this type of synchronous information into blog posts
Presentations…learning and sharing
Wiki…communally edit and comment on ideas, or as a best practices webpage culled from information from the internal communications
PDA…for access on the go
Outlining tool to generate quick ideas
- wrapped in OPML so can be viewed, converted to another format, or dumped into another application
OPML to share your Reading Lists, Links lists, text outlines…also an OPML Browser/Reader
Toolbar/bookmarklets/right-click menu on the intranet utlility page to utilise all the resources
All these services as separate modules that can hook into each other (web2.0 as platform, mashups)
- also from a blog post you can: comment, rate it, email it, discuss in a forum, bookmark it, print it, send to a wiki, SMS it, IM it, DMS it, outline it, blog and trackback it, etc…eg. rblg, RedirectThis
These knowledge/collaborative tools are quite a great driver at the project level, see E-Mail Is So Five Minutes Ago, The Good In Email (or Why Email Is Still The Most Adopted Collaboration Tool), Email and Content Management, and Email: Trustworthy, Multipurpose, Overwhelming.
Some thoughts on structured blogging in the enterprise…see Knowledge Management 2.0 - A Structured (Blogging) Approach to Knowledge Management.
Reinventing the intranet
Is the Enterprise Web 2.0-ready?
Enterprise 2.0 Would Signal The End Of The Corporate KM Function
Is Web 2.0 enterprise-ready?
Why Web 2.0 Matters to your Business - Knowledge Discovery
The Trends Underlying Enterprise 2.0
Management Knowledgement (MK) - When Are We Going to Learn?
Modern Social Software Could Be the Key to Building Effective Enterprise Knowledge Systems - Reinventing the Intranet
Harvesting Implicit Knowledge - Preparing the Way for Enterprise 2.0
Is Web 2.0 enterprise-ready?
Why Web 2.0 Matters to your Business - Knowledge Sharing
It’s Time to Take the Quotation Marks Off “Web 2.0″
Bringing Web 2.0 to the Intranet
Wikis, blogs and other community tools in the enterprise
Social Networking Comes to the Enterprise
Web 2.0 meets the enterprise
Is Social Software Necessary & Sufficient For KM?
Personal Knowledge Management Tools Ready For Enterprise Use
Enterprise 2.0 - What’s the PU?
Enterprise 2.0 discussion continues
Bringing Knowledge, Relationships, and Experts Together in the Enterprise [ADDED: 21/06/06]
NOTE: One day I’ll fix these tags and get rid of the underscore and use eg. Blog+km instead, not enough time to go back and fix my whole collection…only thing is that when I fix this up I will have to go back to all my blog posts that point to my del.icio.us tags and fix them up as well…see my del.icio.us issues.