Corporate Blogs and Wikis
It seems that at least once a month, the answer to a question posed by a co-worker or manager is “we need a blog” or “we need a wiki”. The problem as I see it is that these answers are sometimes being given because both of these technologies are popular, fun, and cool. And who doesn’t want their work to be popular, fun, and cool?
Still, I think that both blogs and wikis have a place in the corporate world. Blogs, in particular, are good for communication. Better so than an e-mail in some cases. If I have a question, I’d rather post it to an internal blog and have people provide their answers and comments on that blog. Contrast this with the more common alternative of sending an e-mail to a long list of recipients. Half won’t read it, and the other half may not have the time to answer before they forget about the e-mail. In addition, a blog allows those that want to participate in a conversation do so via RSS feeds while letting others can exclude themselves simply by not taking any action. Quite different than trying to get yourself off of an e-mail thread that won’t die.
Wikis, which are more complex than blogs, can be good for collaboration. They provide a place where multiple people can add content about a particular topic. The potential for more effective knowledge sharing exists with wikis, but their added complexity means they are as likely to degenerate in to a unwieldy mess of pages with no rhyme or reason to where content is placed.
Regardless of my generally positive view of blogs and wikis, they are not the answer to all issues surrounding cooperation and collaboration. Sometimes the low-tech way is the best way. For instance, if you find that you’re not involved in certain areas of your company’s business, attending in-person meetings is going to be a lot more effective than reading a blog. Face time is still important although it might require more time and effort on your part.