Saturday, August 25, 2007

Blogging Addiction

This survey is making the rounds, so I figure I might as well try it. BTW, this is the *second* time I took the test. I changed one answer to lower my score - and it raised it instead.

60%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

Mingle2 - Dating Site

Thursday, August 23, 2007

More quiet than usual: Change

My public silence has been particularly pronounced due to an amazing change: My institution has set up internal blogs for the entire staff! Potentially that is over 2,000 people, not including communal accounts (most organizational units also have email accounts). So recently I've focused my blogging energy there, always intending to continue here as well.

On one hand, this is an amazing change. Staff is able to write about whatever they want, and these articles can be read by everyone in the institution. I've already "discovered" coworkers whom I've never heard of or encountered before, but who have worked there for many years (sometimes many decades). We are all beginning to feel comfortable in communicating with one another. To be sure, there is a long period during which people need to figure out how they can use their blog by exploring topics and focus. Some have written about mundane, personal, local matters (such as fixing copying machines) to broader issues that affect much of the staff (e.g. cataloging policies, and my own general thoughts on internal blogging). I eagerly look each morning to see what people have written. It's very exciting!

On another hand, of the probable 2,000+ employees, since June only 46 people have posted on their blogs. That's about 2.3% of the entire staff. (Of those 46, only 11 have more than 10 posts.) I find that surprisingly small, and have been wondering what is the reason.

It could be that staff is not technically proficient in all things web-related (i.e. Web or Library 2.0). Even though blogs (in general) have been around for years, I've heard coworkers state that they have read a blog for the first time only a few months ago. (It could be that they've been reading them all along without realizing that they were blogs.)

But there could be a larger issue. Change is a difficult thing to deal with. People become accustomed to doing the same thing and thinking in the same ways. What they do becomes tied up with their own personal identity. To get them to change can be a major hurdle because of these psychological issues. (That's why Change Management is a large aspect of life today -- from the individual level as in psychology up to leadership and management in the world today.)
(I have actually thought of taking coursework leading to a diploma in Change Management.)

When change is introduced at work, I sometimes hear coworkers murmuring that our duties are already so overloaded, and that taking on a new task just causes more stress. This would explain the antagonism toward change (even when the change is potentially helpful).

That could be part of the reason why my coworkers have not jumped at the chance to have a blog. One of the causes of depression is the feeling that one can not communicate with others. So a personal blog could be a step in the direction of alleviating staff cynicism or skepticism.

Personally speaking, I have come to recognize that one can not live in the past. Au contraire, to be happy and live well, one must actually embrace each day's challenges and rewards and engage them with vigor and energy, as if riding a surfboard over the waves of change. To be able to do this eventually gives one the skills of generally managing hurdles, obstacles and challenges that come in life (and boy, do they come).

So while I keep aware of these issues, I'm hoping that more of my coworkers will get on board with blogs. To that end, I feel that we, the bloggers, should gently push in that direction. One way of low-key proselytizing is through communication. Asking "Did you read X's blog today?" can be a way to motivate people to look at the blog site. Even better, at a recent staff meeting, I mentioned what I had read on someone's blog. When several people expressed interest, I repeated the URL of our internal site, and suggest they visit it for themselves and to consider getting one of their own.

Change is definitely in the air, and I sense that blogs are only the beginning.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Enterprise 2.0, Wikipedia and Facism

(I've become quieter than usual because my employer unleashed a bombshell: blogs for the entire staff!! That's well over 1,000 people! So I've focusing on (internal) blogging for my institution (sorry - not visible to the public), but hope to get back here more often.)

I began noticing the phrase Enterprise 2.0 before I realized it was used by Professor Andrew McAfee of the Harvard Business School. (He thought he invented the term in 2006, only realizing later that it was first used in 2001.) I began taking notice with a good article in Harvard Business School's weekly ezine Working Knowledge. Entitled How Wikipedia Works (or Doesn't), author Sean Silverthone succinctly recounted McAfee's experience dealing with Wikipedia and how it serves as a model for collaboration - with both positive and negative attributes.

It fascinated me, so I headed to Wikipedia's (now-defunct) article on Enterprise 2.0. Seeing it incomplete, I added several links, expanded the definition, and made a few more corrections, while arguing on the talk page about why the decision for deletion should be rescinded.

Despite McAfee's credentials as an author of serious work, his and others' arguments could not withstand the fury of anonymous Wikipedians, who wielded their power (which ultimately was more important than factual data) in eradicating the Enterprise 2.0 article by merging it with the more generic article on Enterprise Social Software. In his summary, Silverthorne pointed out that this represents top-down administration on the part of Wikipedia, ironically a type of adminisration which is the opposite of what Wikipedia represents. I call it fascism. :) It reminds me of what happens in certain countries which give the illusion of democracy until it becomes uncomfortable - and then take top-heavy action to roll back the uncomfortable attitudes.

What does this have to do with librarianship? It's about the hurdles of library administration in a 2.o world. For example, if a library adopts a 2.0 attitudes, adopting a flatter way of communicating, allowing decisions to be made from the botttom, but then suddenly issues a top-down ultimatum, that would really quash the functioning of the institution.