Weltanschauung for social computing

Dave Snowden’s post caught my eye today. (I’m interpreting Weltanschauung as meaning ‘world view’, or ‘accepted opinion’ here).

Sensible (and deep) perspective on the social computing ‘revolution’ (my word not Dave’s), as you’d probably expect from this renowned thinker. Difficult to do justice to Dave’s posting in a few words here, though a couple of points I’d like to note:

I too dislike the term ‘Enterprise 2.0’ (much in the same way as I dislike Web 2.0 – and I’m still not entirely sure if they’re the same!); social computing is far more descriptive and takes us away from the concept of giving release numbers to what is in effect a gradual (evolutionary) change, predicated on human behaviour. And yes, I have noted this contradicts the reference to ‘revolution’ in my first sentence, but I do get the impression from various vendors’ marketing releases that they believe it is a revolution.

The other point is (again) in support of the Dave Snowden’s statement that
….you have to get people enthused, get the early adopters to use the tools. It’s a lot harder letting things evolve, than designing something based on an ideal approach….

It is indeed difficult letting things evolve, because this takes time and despite the well-worn KM cliché of learning before, during and after, managers want instant (and perfect) solutions. The ideal solution doesn’t become apparent until users have worked out where the shortcuts are and how to avoid the pitfalls and problems. Anyone who thinks they can design an ideal system from a purely theoretical paradigm must be….well, Einstein. Maybe it happens, but not very often.

I’ve always been an advocate of starting off with something quick and dirty – and yes, probably imperfect, but by observing how it’s being used and listening to user’s feedback you can develop something approaching an ideal system. Of course you’ll never quite reach the utopian position of having a ‘perfect’ system, because that’s what evolution is all about. Change is good, provided we’re learning from it.

So, my own crusade is to find the (social computing) early adopters in the local government sector. Quite difficult when you have a fairly institutionalised mentality, where freedom of thought and action has been actively discouraged over many (many) years. The good news is, there are some out there, and the fact that in less than 6 months we’ve managed to encourage over 900 users to join one or more of the 24 or so on-line communities of practice on the IDeA collaborative workspace does give me some encouragement. In fact, I’m enthused about it!

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