Friday, 23 October 2009

How Twitter can support live events

Early October I was in Brussels attendeding a workshop of the Knowledge Management for Development Network (KM4Dev.org), the leading Community of Practice on KM issues in development.

In one of the sessions there were several people with Twitter accounts persent, and we started twittering during the sessions with out laptops. It was really interesting to do this during a normal face-to-face session when one person was presenting and others in the room where adding context and opinions while the resource person spoke. This side communication (a bit like whispering in the classroom, but less disruptive) made the session very rich and added a lot of different perspectives. At one point we even exchanged comments across different sessions which took place in different rooms of the building at the same time. This created a connection and some information flow between events which otherwise would not have been possible.
Then in the afternoon we scheduled a discussion session to be held in Twitter (marked with a particular #tag so people can find contributions easily), and announced it to other KM colleagues all over the world who couldn't attend the workshop. And even though the announcement was on short notice, we had several external people who were engaging into the live discussion, which really opened up the face-to-face event to a virtual audience.

This was definitely an interesting good practice on how a status update feature can add value to live events, and something which could be easily replicated in any corporate system where a status update feature is included.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Does Web 2.0 save time, or eat up even more of it?

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published an interesting article on Web 2.0: Why Email No Longer Rules… And what that means for the way we communicate. After nicely outlining different implications of the new communication tools, it ends with a critical remark regarding the potentially time consuming aspect of Web 2.0:

"We get lured into wasting time, telling our bosses we are looking into something, instead of just doing it, for example. And we will no doubt waste time communicating stuff that isn't meaningful, maybe at the expense of more meaningful communication."

I've been asked this question many times before, and I realize that it is an particularly important issue for senior management witin organisations. However, I think the question approaches the topic from the right angle.

I would rather look at this from a perspective of an empowered workforce. Unlike in past times, where we had one job for a lifetime and a clearly defined top-down hirarchy would determine and control exactly what a worker has to do, we are as workers today much more in charge and responsible of our performance management, our learning, our networking and our career planning. Anything which doesn't help us becoming better professionals and getting our job done, will not be used. On the other hand, if we use something, that means that there was value for us as professionals and for our work results. And that value is determined individually by each user, not by the organization as such.

That is why not everyone is using all Web 2.0 tools & techniques, but only those which provide value for a certain user in a certain situation. Providing these tools from a corporate perspective is therefore not a matter of telling people what to do, what not to do, and how to do it, but rather creating an enabling environment for users who are free to use whatever helps them (according to their own judgement) to achieve results and improve in their jobs.