E-Commerce Times Talkback
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It's quite possible that like instant messaging, blogging -- the practice of publishing top-of-mind thoughts to a Web site in chronological order -- will become a productive tool for businesses to gather and organize what smart people figure out daily. But at the rate they're going, blog tools are merely building simple heaps of information, giant mounds of unorganized content. Developers of these tools must implement technologies for moving and transforming entire weblogs before things get seriously out of hand.
I think the reasons are not technical, but more social. See my comments at http://www.psesd.org/weblogs/im/archives/000308.html#000308
i wish i could see a *social aspects* category in your referenced *information management* weblog
the danger is that *weblog based business solutions* are developed for the consumer market .. as-usual .. before there is a not-a-developer-or-a-research-team *user constituency* in place .. to negotiate the development work with ..
i believe social aspects might be addressed by taking a preliminary look back .. to the days when ready made off-the-shelf technology solution availability was not the norm .. and by saying something more about what your comment only hints at .. i.e.: the fear to look stupid if one takes a not-a-technically-or-marketing-blessed approach to
learning-by-doing what best suits an organization's needs ...
if the above wording sounds stupid ... see how i'm presently proposing to share a *weblog-of-intent* with anybody willing to share the *stupido* problem ... http://www.pharos-it.net :)
For a business to use blogged information effectively, it will need not only to gather the text but to figure out which entries relate to which topics and concerns. Tiernan Ray's article focuses on the portability of the file structure, which relates posts to the people who wrote them and the time they were written. That's a valid concern, to which anybody who has switched email systems can attest. But like piles of email, the knowledge contained in those bits and pieces of text needs to be indexed well in order to be useful for other purposes. So while metadata about the mechanics of the blog is necessary, I think it won't be sufficient, at least not sufficient to motivate an executive to devote resources to collating the blog entries. What's needed is a way to categorize the entries by subject, and a way for software to show the entries that deal with a particular subject and point to other subjects that are related. So the jobs are (a) develop a common vocabulary consisting of labels for concepts that are dealt with in the company's blogs; (b) categorize postings using those labels; and (c) figure out how to present the common vocabulary and blog entries that relate to each term. Draw on the knowledge and skill of librarians to help with these tasks.
I agree with limulus:
"So the jobs are (a) develop a common vocabulary consisting of labels for concepts that are dealt with in the company's blogs; (b) categorize postings using those labels; and (c) figure out how to present the common vocabulary and blog entries that relate to each term."
This is where moving beyond the simple initial rss format and into the richer rdf-based 1.0 spec promises to help. I hold out hope for the blogging tools to incorporate this on the data entry side of things, especially after seeing that Moveable Type's Notepad incorporates a similarly complex file format like FOAF as just another feature.
The whole concept of creating a common vocabulary within an organization and tracking it with the use of rdf namespaces in the rss feed seems like a pretty daunting task for a single developer to handroll by themselves, but I'll find out the feasibility of this soon, as this is a direction that I'm working to implement at my work. We have a project that was already going to store the data as xml files and publish to the web, so we decided to try storing the xml files as rss feeds. If we can move beyond simple syndication to creating our own vocabularies, applying it in a consistent way to the data and then *doing* something of obvious benefit to the end user with that information, then we'll consider this whole tangent a success.
Blogs are fine for personal sites, IM is great for phone-like tidbits, and bulletin board forums are fine for exchanging opinions.
But for departmental or corporate knowledge-sharing, we need something organized by subject, not by date. We need the content to be collaboratively updated by more than just a single author or small group. And we need something with more permanence than e-mail or chat.
My group wrestled with this recently, and we were surprised how little was available that meets these needs. We selected the open-source TWiki software package, which provides an easy way to build an internal Web site for knowledge management. It has version control and login security when editing (to allay any concerns about collaborative editing) and it can be customized to have a respectable corporate look and feel.
The "heaps of information" problem may never be cured, but at least this tool helps us manage it. And it provides a very low barrier to getting people to contribute, which perhaps an even bigger KM problem.
>>we need something organized by subject, not by date
In fact, most blog systems *do* let you organize posts by subject, except ordinary users tend not to bother with this feature. For example, Movable Type has a 'category' feature that lets you do just this.
I'm sorry, I must have missed a few paragraphs somewhere. Where is it stated that the current commercial CMS must adhere to standards-based data structures? I've only been in that business for a decade, but I just cannot seem to recall even any mention of any such interoperability standards.
Exactly. Blogging apps like Userland's radio and Pyra's blogger have done more to introduce interoperability to this space than any commercial API. The blogger API, RSS, OPML, Trackback, etc, etc. Not only that, these smaller players are able to implement shared formats and standards faster than many commercial software companies could dream of. Once again, an old school publication misses the point. Good try, though.