Knowledge Management Forum: Blogs and Wikis and Modern Organisations

Tomorrow night I am presenting to the Queensland Knowledge Management Forum on the role of Blogs and Wikis in Modern Organisations, as organised by Belinda Thompson:

Session 2 / 2006

Date: Tuesday, 21 February 2006, 3.00 to 4.30pm

Topics: Social Software: What does it mean for enterprise knowledge management systems?

Where: HSBC Building, Level 18, 300 Queen Street, Brisbane

Presenter 1: Belinda Thompson, National Knowledge & Information Manager BDO

Session Overview: Belinda Thompson will discuss three social software tools introduced within the Department of Education & Arts. This presentation was delivered to the ACT KM Conference in 2005.

Presenter 2: Micheal Axelsen (Director, Information Systems Consulting)

Session Overview: Micheal Axelsen will be discussing Blogs and Wikis and their place in modern organisations.

Presenter 3: Forum Members

Group Discussion:

What place does social software have within a KM strategy? What tools are the most effective at facilitating knowledge sharing? Should social software tools be embraced or run away from?

The View: It’s time to go home

The following article is reproduced from an article written by Micheal Axelsen and published in CPA Australia’s “InTheBlack” journal, December 2005.  The article is also published under my publications section (it’s an opinion piece, in case you can’t tell).

The View:  It’s time to go home

Home is where the blackberry is?I’m in a coffee shop in Melbourne the morning after Hurricane Katrina hits. In a rather surreal twist I can connect to the internet to chat in online forums with people that had just left the devastated areas, or were in the process of being devastated. Such events lead to cheerful considerations of whether information technology is a universally positive thing, like, say, the invention of low-fat chocolate, or something slightly more sinister. If you had found yourself in such a horrific situation, ask yourself this: “What is the one thing I need when my house is about to be blown away by a hurricane?”. For one person at least, it was to make a post to an online forum and then take his hard drive – with him to the storm shelter.

In walking to this coffee shop from the hotel, I saw three people cross the road while staring fixedly at their mobile phone and texting someone or browsing the internet. One woman was nearly run over and seemed to consider the situation to be a somewhat annoying break in the middle of her conversation.

As further evidence of technology’s strident dictatorship of our lives, I continue to receive emails on that most addictive of devices, the insidious Blackberry even though the office is 2000 km away.

I increasingly find that clients are rushing towards the sweetly seductive promises of technology: that a particular gadget will “make your business more competitive”, that it will “decrease your turnaround time”, and it will “make you productive on the road”.

The salesmen for these mobile torture instruments rarely discuss the side-effects: that you will acquire a nervous tic in your eye every time you hear a high-pitched beep, never be able to completely relax anywhere, or develop a low opinion of those who do not answer their emails within 12.5 seconds.

All that time we spend in the back of taxis, apparently, is what we need to use more productively to keep ourselves effective and on track as the successful advisers to business we CPAs are.

I happen to think that I was already using that downtime effectively, thanks very much. I need it to recharge my batteries to keep interested in the job at hand. As far as my clients are concerned, they deserve to know that I am on top of my game and worth what I am charging them. If I haven’t had time to properly look over their work, or have been constantly distracted by office disasters that someone else should be looking after, I haven’t met their expectations of me as a professional.

We are all human and if you want to achieve the best business results, you need to down tools and go home. Forty or fifty productive hours a week is much better than eighty hours wondering whether your “significant other” would understand if you were to stand them up tonight.

This Christmas, think about the technological tools used in your business. There are definite business benefits to these gadgets and mobile devices – but you need to be careful. If you’re thinking about that gadget in the shiny plastic wrapper, and how desperately you need it, ask yourself how you survived to your current age without it, and then ask how you will really use it. If the answer is “poorly” – then don’t buy it.

Your first rule this summer should be “No Christmas presents that need electricity!”. Buy yourself an abacus if you feel you need to keep in touch with numbers, or do a jigsaw puzzle with your family.

OpenDocument Standards

ZDNet is reporting on the new OpenDocument standard (approved by OASIS) that may “turn the world inside out” (which, frankly, is one of those phrases to use when hyperbole just isn’t enough). It does promise great things, as the promise of sharing documents independently of the application that created them may finally become a reality (although, predictably, Microsoft advises it refuses to support an inferior standard and will accordingly go its own way).

I suspect we shouldn’t hold our breath in this regard. However, if there is enough momentum to using it, the potential for open source software applications to really become usable (e.g. OpenOffice) would become very high. I personally use OpenOffice at home and for almost everything I do it is perfectly OK. I do remain sceptical of the great and wonderful features that are packed into Office most of the time – I mean, seriously, does anyone ever use the Version Save feature of Word? And if you do, do you hope and pray it won’t corrupt your document?

(PS in case you are wondering what the reason is for the gap in publishing my blogs, the gap is due to the birth of my baby daughter, Olivia Grace on 9th September. Parenthood – it’s good for family life, bad for blogging).