Nancy White has a post called Communities, networks and what sits in between, which links to a video with herself and the effervescent Robin Good…I am intrigued by the sweet spot between networks and communities.
I’m not too sure about this middle, or whether it’s to the side…or what…
Is it aggregation?
eg. twitter hash tag channels?
These are not communities, yet people in the network understand to tag their tweets with a conference name so we have a bucket…we are acting like a group, but we are really are not a group at all.
Same goes with a topic news page based on sources that often post about this topic
eg. Nancy and I are part of the Communities and Networks Connection website…our posts are aggregated on the same page, yet we are not a group.
What about “social groupings”?
People that bought this book also bought.
People that also read this book.
People that also use this tag
Even self-organising directories you see on Twitter like wefollow
People in your city that are also vegetarian
Imagine if you could search match the Facebook info page, and do things like “show me people in my network who are also born in 1972″
I made a stupidly long post on this 18 months ago, see Networks, Communities and aggregation
A wall we are hitting at work is the need for ad-hoc group spaces to work on something rather than using email.
Lots of people belong to CoPs, but when it comes to working on a task with diverse people we get stuck…we could choose to nominate a CoP, but we’d rather an on-the-fly room. I explained this scenario in this post, Communities of Practice and discussions with non-Members
Some questions that come up when thinking about using an existing CoP is:
- whose CoP should we use to do this task
- not sure if people in my CoP will like me inviting temp members
- only people interested in the CoP topic should be members
- the CoP should not be used for unrelated stuff
- this task space would be buried too deep in the CoP , it really deserves it’s own URL so it’s more findable
The issue is that our CoPs are empowering as we can work in a communal space…when we have work to do with another bunch of people we naturally want to use a communal space to do this work, so we resort to our CoP tools as they are our only choice…but as explained a CoP, just like a team, is a shared space for a group of people based around a topic/function…these spaces are not too be abused to do unrelated stuff.
We use OpenText for our CoPs (and for Document Management for that matter), and for the past 3 months have been piloting their new Social Media product (in the realm of Jive, Lotus Connections, SocialText). Similar to the concept of Facebook and LinkedIn, it’s a social network with a groups feature. Our position is that our CoPs tool is more long term, stable, portal like, learning and sharing (looks like a website, with lots of permissions control and unlimited wikis, blogs and forums). Whereas the groups application is more simple/generic, it will be more for ad-hoc tasks/collaboration.
eg. I need to do task A - I need input from someone in marketing, IT, engineering, HR to help me on this task.
In less then 30 seconds I create a group space and invite these members. Here we can talk in a forum, upload documents, and use a wiki. Perhaps after a couple of months the task is finished.
The key is I need to instantly set up a space and communicate and coordinate a task. It’s there to see forever (corporate memory). Managers can actually now see how people do work (which was formerly happening in closed email). Plus the rest of the company can have an ambient awareness of what everyone is doing, leading to more cooperation, and adaptiveness.
This couples with the concept of disintermediation, where senior managers can connect to the raw fragments and workings out of a solution. And of course being able to recombine these fragments in other contexts.
I alluded to this in Twitter the other day:
“In KM 1.0 all we had was the expert song (best practice), in KM 2.0 “we” have all the separate layers to remix the song into new contexts “
Sameer Patel, riffed on it:
“@johnt so true. i was going to use the ingredients vs a complete dish analogy in my last post about ECM & E20″
This is what he referred to:
“When you layer in social computing concepts at the early stages of content creation, you have the ability to encourage such uses of raw ingredients (or social objects). These social objects, previously hidden in an access controlled CMS environment are now unlocked via social computing concepts and tools. The beauty is that they can now be work in progress for some, finished product for others that participate or discover it, or can be interpreted in totally different ways, never intended by the original participants.”
Not to mention the social network part where we can discover (serendipity/opportunities), and connect with a diversity of people…much more alive than the Global Address List (GAL) in Outlook. We can discover each other on social networks, and these relationships can lead to us collaborating on stuff…it just makes sense having social networks and a group module in the same application.
See Cheryl McKinnon’s post, Making Enterprise 2.0 Real. My Story of the “No E-Mail Beta Program”.
This is why I see enterprise products like OpenText Social Media cutting into the use of Outlook. In Outlook we have a GAL and do our group work, however messy and cumbersome it is, now with new tools we can replace the GAL function and the group work function.
Email is private by default, and if all we use is email, then our organisational activity is private by default…same goes with meetings…so at the moment organisational communication and coordination is a slave to inferior technology (non-conducive to the knowledge age).
We have our business units (functional), our teams (execute), our communities of practice (learn)…but what has been lacking online is mirroring the behaviour in how we work offline ie. ad-hoc groups from diverse parts of the organisation assembling in meetings to achieve an objective…and then this is where the mirror should appear, in that we go back to our seats and rather than use email use social networks and group spaces.
Looking at the bigger picture Larry Hawes (riffs off Sameer Patel) posts on how ad-hoc conversational work fits into the ECM picture:
“…social software be used for authoring, sharing, and collecting feedback on draft documents or content chunks before they are formally published and widely distributed. ECM systems may then be used to publish the final, vetted content and manage it throughout the content lifecycle.”
[ADDED 12/08/09: “There is something simply wonderful about a directory of people. And then enabling people to make the directory social. You quickly find not only the people, but who they are, who knows who, and who is paying attention to who. You can surface what people are working on. Groups that exist are made visible, and new groups form easily.” - Ross Mayfield]