Monday, July 7, 2008

Make Blogging Mandatory for Knowledge Management

At my panel on What Blogging Brings To Business at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference, there was some discussion about whether a company should make blogging mandatory. I sense the audience and the panel thought it was a bad idea.

Mary Abraham of Above and Beyond KM calls it Knowledge Management Made Easier and points to a story by Tim LeberechtThe Writing Organization: Knowledge Management Made Easy. Mary seems to think mandatory blogging would be a good idea.

Dave Snowden points to a blog post from Stephen Holt [Mandatory employee blogs: one way to boost knowledge] which seeks to make blogging mandatory as a means of making tacit knowledge explicit. Dave's reaction:
"Aside from the perpetuation of the myth of tacit-explicit knowledge conversion (more on this tomorrow), the idea of compulsion flies in the face of all theory and practice in social computing.  Its a classic; find something which is working, then ruin it by compulsion."
I am in Dave Snowden's camp. I think mandatory blogging is a bad idea.

After reading Groundswell this weekend, the nature of participation in social media became more clear. Not everyone is a "creator" (as the authors of Groundswell would label them). If you are a blogger, you are a "creator."

Blogging is about consuming and commenting as much as it is about posting. I encourage people to become part of the conversation of social media. I read hundreds of blog posts for every post that I write. I make comments on others blogs.

One of  the powers of blogging (writing them, reading them and commenting on them) is that it reduces thoughts and knowledge to a place where they become findable.  That is great for knowledge management.

But there are lots of other ways to communicate using social media other than blogging.  These social media tools are also great for knowledge management.  The better move is to encourage communication through the platform communication tools of social media.  These web-based communication tools make it much easier to find the content than email based communication.

I would prefer that someone on  my client team update the wiki page for the client's matter more than that that person putting up a post on their own blog. I would prefer someone tagging a document as a good precedent. I would prefer someone commenting on one of my blog posts to point out an alternative approach.

The key is to realize that you can communicate with the web and that communication on the web can be better leveraged to capture knowledge and leverage it for reuse.


  1. I think readers / lurkers and commenters are also "bloggers" in a sense.

    And where I think blogging in the larger sense is udeful for KM (in the larger sense) is that the whole process and its rhythm .. the struggle to articulate something, pull it out of one's head and onto a web page with text, images, video, seeing it there, responding to comments or other interaction (private emails catalyzed by the blog post, or IMs or voice chats) and having it findable or bookmarked for further reflection .. all these aspects of the dynamics of blogging contribute to learning and to insight-formation, which then can lead to the scaffolding of knowledge and meaning.

    I don't know if the above is articulated clearly enough. I do know that blogging in the larger sense has and continues to accelerate and broaden my learning and presumably some of those people with whom I blog (readers, commenters and blogs where I read. lurk, comment).

  2. @jonhusband -

    Personally, I think blogging should be encouraged. Even strongly encouraged. Just not mandatory.

    If you make it mandatory, how do you enforce the rule? I see the rise of blogging police stalking the ivy-covered walls in the black uniforms, wielding truncheons, and badgering those who have not externalized their thoughts.

    Blogging is not for everyone. If it were, there would not be so many dead and abandoned blogs.

    Certainly if you are going to encourage blogging, you want to encouraging reading other blogs and commenting on other blogs.


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