W3C Social Business Jam - Flurry No. 4: Personal views of information
cmw.osdude 120000QT77 Visits (2009)
[Remember that even though I work for IBM I am an individual with my own thoughts and ideas. Anything I write here may not necessarily represent the views of the IBM Corporation or its partners... though I'm hoping that's only a matter of time before they catch up.]
One of the conversations has been about the battle between the private acquisition of information (personal data stores) and the systematic storage of data (corporate data stores). Most effective people accumulate their own data which they organize and retrieve in a way that is logical to them. Their ability to recall and locate this information is part of their success. Alternatively, a company benefits greatly when useful information is openly available to others who could use it. However, the demands of an enterprise data system require structure and tooling that may not match up with an individual's way of dealing with information. (I have yet to deal with a corporate information tool that thinks like I do.)
I look at some of the more social tools and how they affect my approach to information. A couple of the businesses that I frequent are Netflix and Amazon. Now, they have a lot of structure to them, but they use my habits and opinions in conjunction with the habits and opinions of others to continually point me to things that might interest me. In general they do a pretty good job of it too! This is a case of me using a structured data system that takes my needs and perspective into account. I have to use their tools and I have to participate by rating things as I go. The more diligent I am in participating, the better my recommendations become. (Of course in the case of Netflix and Amazon there is a conversion process — I rent or buy something — that is trackable whether I actively participate or not.)
I also look at some of the news stories and other things that I pick up through friends on Google+, Facebook and other tools. In those cases people will share links to things that might interest me. In many cases a number of people that I know will re-share that information so that there are several pointers to it. In those cases I am not dealing at first with the original source of the information. In some cases I've never even heard of the original source, but am guided there by my friends. Through this process I have discovered people who think like I do and whom I trust to lead me to information I will appreciate. I've also seen patterns by people that I like well enough, but who continually show me that they do not think as I do about a number of things and I tend to treat their recommendations much more lightly. In this second case, I am building a personal view of information that is well suited to me, but separated from the original source of the information. Furthermore, the tooling allows others who might benefit from my thoughts on a topic, or their parallel interest, have a chance to look into this themselves.
I think that people must have their own view of information in order for it to make sense. If a data system allows them to build that personal view then they will use it. If it lacks that capability then they will do it anyway, through personal notes, emails, sticky-notes, etc. However, that personal view is hidden and cannot be leveraged for the rest of the organization.