The Future As Seen By Me In 2010

Well looky here, things one has scanned in eh. (ignore the photo, that's some guy that made some accounting software, not sure what became of him ;) MIKE RIVERSDALE is fuming. The expensive headphones he bought in Sydney three weeks ago have just died. His first reaction is not to randomly spill expletives into his coffee, but to use his iPhone to vent his frustration to his Twitter con- tacts, under the moniker Miramar Mike. "I will also put, 'What should I do?' It's a conversation. I'm reaching out to the people following me." The council predicts hand-held digital devices such as smartphones will rule the world in 2040. They already rule the life of Mr Riversdale, whose company WaveAdept helps businesses adapt - their computing sys- tems to allow staff to work from anywhere - and with anyone. In order of fre- equency, he uses his iPhone to tweet (1136 followers; 8363 tweets since joining), e-mail, make phone calls and use online services, such as checki

6 fears of a wiki coming into your organisation

At the end of last year I was part of a "Wiki panel" run by the New Zealand Government´s State Service Commission (SSC) Online Collaboration team.

Together with Hadyn I was there to espouse my views on wikis within organisations, especially governmental agencies, and to encourage more participation in the SSC Community Wiki. For my 15 minutes I thought it would be neat to list the most common fears that people introducing wikis have to content with - here they are for you delectation with some of my ways of assuaging the fears.

1: "They´ll make it wrong"
They being everyone else of course.

And yes, they might make it "wrong" My most common response to this is that the wiki won´t generate "wrong ideas" by itself, the people are already holding this "wrong" information inside their heads and acting upon it, passing it on and generally cultivating it. The wiki brings out the "wrong"-ness and makes it a little more public which then can be addressed. How it´s addressed is entirely up to the individual and/or organisation. But at least you can.

Of course if making the information on a wiki "wrong" has wide reaching effects such as affecting market share, public confidence or anything legal then perhaps that piece of information doesn´t belong on a wiki to be edited - not everything does.

2: "Someone will scribble all over it!"
Someone will take my carefully crafted content and crap all over it. At the very least they will misuse apostrophes and upper/lower case and at the very worse be fraudulent and nasty.

My answer to this is - if you have someone within your organisation that may behave in such a manner you have deeper HR issues than what may happen on the wiki. They may take a company pencil and go into the company toilet and scribble on the walls. Whatever they may do (and in my experience the fear is always far greater than the reality) it is a line management issue to be dealt with as any other misconduct issue.

As for incorrect use of apostrophes that´s probably more along the lines of the first fear (They´ll make it wrong) and you now have a perfect training opportunity.

3: "But it´s mine/yours!"
But of course it (the information on the wiki) isn´t yours - do you take it home at night? It´s arguable not anyone one person´s and belongs to the collective but that´s a matter for discussion at a later date.

The "mine" part is usually linked to the next point.

The "yours" is seen by an unwillingness to edit anything excepting their own creations - not what the wiki spirit calls for. I find that this is usually an expression of a organisation that has tight management control on behaviours and can take a long time to change. Call me and I can help further with this.

4: "I´ll lose power!" (unspoken)
Information = power, that´s the old adage isn´t it? Well, I contend that it is a flawed thought - it´s not what you know but what you do that leads to ¨power¨ (influence, connections, effectiveness, rewards). No-one in the organisations I work with gives a tinkers cuss that I might know XHTML until I can use that information to solve a particular formatting issue they may have. Similarly, no-one at your organisation cares that you know the intricacies of some process, it´s because you can actually help others through that process that you are rewarded.

Putting your information onto a wiki does not make the information anonymous (99.9% of the time) but it most certainly shares that information with a much wider audience and allows other to build upon it.

Another side of losing power is that a wiki is new, it can be seen as ¨young, hip and trendy¨ and they are generally pushed as being so darned easy an idiot can use them. Well, if you click the edit button for the first time and are presented with a load of MediaWiki geek code you might well feel that attempting to use this new system to share you information will diminish your status within an organisation - who likes to look a fool in front of their peers!?.
Installers of wikis, you have be warned!

5: "Why are we needed?" (unspoken, usually by IT staff)
MediaWiki (for instance) - it´s free, it´s easy to install and it can run on a PC. Why do we need the content management system (CMS) that IT have been pushing at us? A valid question and one that IT Departments themselves can see coming their way.

Also, the apparent speed of change within a Wiki can be frightening - the information is no longer ¨vetted¨ by IT staff which it usually is with, say, an intranet. Don´t believe me - try and create a new top level category on your non-Wiki intranet and let me know who you have to get approval/action by?!

My advice to IT Departments is that they will have to get closer (into) the business and if they don´t there´s gonna be an awful lot of geeks roaming around the streets. IT only exists to serve the business, much like the maintenance section and the office administration.

6: "Where will it all end?!?"
Ah, the classic heard by management. Some examples of this are:
  • HR - But what about the Intranet?
  • IT - What about the new CMS Project?
  • Management - Who will control all this information?
What they are really asking is, "If this information is all out there and being updated ... what will I be needed for?" ... good question ... what will you do!?!?

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