Humanising The Enterprise Using Ambient Social Knowledge

  • Lee Bryant of Headshift, a scial software consulting firm, spoke of the death of traditional enterprise software and the rise of a new breed of social software that is attentuating the torrent of information within large companies.
  • The lost world of IT dinosaurs – legacy systems that are too big and expensive to kill
  • In the outside world – the dotcom bust swept away software ‘predators’ and people began constructing their own tools.
  • Humans are back – People found that if their systems all connected up, they could share stuff!
  • Fear, enterprise=expensive – Managers continue to buy arguments about process, workflow, security and control that software vendors use to keep them in the Stone Age…seeing IT as an enabler again.

Information and attention overload is a consequence of this legacy…

  • Management by email limits peripheral vision, damaging individual decision making.
  • Information overload is worse for concentration than smoking dope.
  • Who controls your inbox, tasklist and your agenda?
  • Too much push, too little pull – bad signal-to-noise ratio.
  • Companies store millions of documents but have little idea which are important. People rarely find what they need. Knowledge cannot be codified as bits, but needs context.

The emergence of social software…

  • Simple actions repreated at scale within a social network produce emergent network effects.
  • Easy interfaces and a low ‘cognitive footprint’ reduces barriers to participation.
  • Operate locally, aggregate globally.
  • is a more effective for knowledge sharing than KM products.
  • Confluence provides a better intranet with its syndicatable wiki features.
  • Budgets are shifting to social tools such as blogs, wikis, social tagging, lightweight group tools.
  • IT departments are realising they need to loosen the reins and make it easier for people to get on with their jobs.
  • A new relationship with information – feeds, flows, syndication, subscriptoins, social tagging, blogging, wiki co-production.
  • Continuous partial attention.
  • Variable interaction modes, depth, time relations.
  • Reuters Financial Glossary and WikiLaw
  • New behaviours – give people control over their information flows using aggregators,

How do we process information?

  • Pattern matching and the ‘best-first-fit’…the only humns who analyse all the data and then make a rational chouce are autistic.
  • The brain takes in more than we know, but filters and simplifies using archetypes and patterns…this is why we can real newspapers quickly.
  • Existing systems limit the diversity of inputs to stimulate intuitive decision making.

How do we innovate?

  • Innovation requires a problem or idea, a solution and a project evangelist – they may not be in the same place.
  • R&D is forward-facing and therefore not served by enterprise storage or classification.
  • These days, the best innovation often comes from passionate users or extra-firewall partnerships.

The answer to information overload?

  • Simply, more information, consumed differently and each taken, less seriously. Diversity will compensate.
  • Build a better radar, use social tools and trust people to make decisions on that.
  • More peripheral, contextual information flows.
  • Less dependency on email and task assignment.
  • Better findability, not storage.
  • Classification = calcification (tags are chea and fun!)

A new relationship with people…

  • We are hard-wired for socialisation, but enterprise tools are rooted in 1950s Fordist theories.
  • Complexity thinking is more useful here…
  • A social fabric for knowledge sharing, collaborative filtering and connected conversations.

Small pieces

  • Break everything into small pieces.
  • Everything should have a URI and a feed.
  • Social bookmakring, tagging and selection.
  • Simple group spaces to share within a trusted context.
  • When it’s atomised, let people build it back up.
  • Pick. Mix. Share. Feed. Improve findability with user-driven metadata and organisation, bring old content to life with layers of usage and context metadata. Support remixing and mashps.

An information-rich environment

  • Remote-controlleed shared displays
  • Ambient devices?
  • Smart walls and whiteboards
  • Architecture and office design.

A sharing culture

  • Opennness is an aspirational value.
  • An ecological approach to knowledge – not knowledge managament (wiki gardening).
  • Self-directed support and peer-to-peer assistance.
  • Whing framework of objectives, let people find their own way.

Build onwhat you’ve got

  • Use the heavy-lifting and storage of legacy systems, not the GUI.
  • give people their own social UI on existing infra to dosciver, store, share and create.
  • Bring out feeds from legacy systems; creating mediating services.



  1. Technology Research: Humanising The Enterprise Using Ambient Social Knowledge

    Link: Technology Research: Humanising The Enterprise Using Ambient Social


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