I got an introductory copy of the newly re-titled Inside Knowledge (formerly Knowledge Management magazine) and was enjoying the new design and the familiar, high-quality articles (with KM luminaries like Verna Allee, Leif Edvinsson, and Karl-Erik Sveiby). [Full Disclosure: I've also been published (book review) in the former Knowledge Management magazine and the Ark Group's sister publication for law firms, Managing Partner, but please don't hold that against them.]
Then I came to the Trend tracker article Blogging (full text online for paid subscribers only), by Chris Harris-Jones, who is described as the "research director, information management" at Ovum. As a blogger myself and given the focus of this blog, I dove in with enthusiasm. I was please to find confirmation that Chris is seeing blogging used in corporate environments. He asserted that "collaboration vendors" are beginning to include blogging software in their suites. But as I read on, I began to wonder if Chris, or the vendors he wrote about, have ever seen a real blog.
Here's the killer paragraph that still has me wondering what sort of "blogging" tools he's been exposed to:
The big problem with blogs, at least as they are currently defined, is that they are read-only for everyone except the author. Blogging is designed purely to push information out to others; they do not allow for discussion or even comment. So while blogging has its place in organisations, preferably as part of a controlled collaboration suite, it is only one component. Technologies like discussion groups allow for a greater degree of interaction. Just like IM, blogging is great at some tasks, but is not a solution for everything.
Read-only? No discussion, or comments? It's hard to know what to write in response.
Chris, blogs "as they are currently defined" by the rest of us, inherently allow and encourage discussion and comment. My blog tool, TypePad, would allow me to set up as many authors as I like, for a work group or project team. Unlike the discussion lists I've been part of, blogs allow authors and commenters to include graphics in their writing, as well as upload full documents (PDFs, images, html files). The communication is rich, visual, and multi-directional. For an example, take a look at my prior posts (here and here) that sparked a vigorous, international discussion of the nature of "knowledge" (personal vs. social).
Because the posts are archived, can be organized into subject categories, as well as by title and date, and (in TypePad) are full-text searchable, the blog itself becomes an extremely useful personal and organizational KM tool. They can be much more, of course.
But, since Chris has apparently never actually used a real blog tool, I'm going to invite him, both here and via e-mail, to come and post a comment. As we heard from several speakers at the New Communications Forum Blog University, in Napa, California, last week, it's time for corporations to follow the lead of Microsoft (e.g. Scobleizer), Sun Microsystems (look at blogs.sun.com, bill as a space "accessible to any Sun employee to write about anything"), and General Motors (Fast Lane blog), and engage in the conversations that are going on out there about you and your company.
With or without your input.
And no, as Chris wistfully seems to desire, the company cannot control the conversations. Employees will blog. Inside the firewall, if you encourage and support it. Outside the firewall, whether you like it or not. The company can only choose whether or not to participate and then guide its part in the conversation.
So come on, Chris. Engage. Post a comment right here and feel what it's like! I promise to respond.