After lunch at BlogWalk Chicago, we’ve broken into more small groups. Ours is examining/envisioning the way one might construct the pitch to get an enterprise involved in social software (selling blogging to an organization). Lilia suggests finding out where in the work flow, blogging might help. Maybe R&D research logbooks; maybe shift reports; sales territory reports — replace paper with software. Jim suggests another angle: a workgroup that’s open to trying, to support whatever their work processes are. Then you coach them and also see how blogs help in unanticipated ways. The latter phases of the discussion depart in divergent ways from the initiating topic.
Whoops! Now we’re getting to a favorite topic of mine: ways of coping with resistance to the change that online communication provokes. Shannon thinks it’s a matter of writing style; Lilia points out that some of her colleagues will not read her blog no matter what, even when it would benefit their participation in her work flow. Shannon likes threaded bulletin-board discussions; they make my flesh crawl.
Here are the overviews of group discussions: The first group talked about blogs as money-making entities. The current way that blogs are structured makes monetizing very hard, as compared to movies (in theaters, on cable/ on broadcast TV, on DVD/video, then free on airplanes). It serves mostly as a calling card, by definition an area where money is not being made. Is reasoning about “blogging” itself reasonable?
Three phases of individual blog: 1 ranting-raving, 2 affecting real life (information collection/mentoring), 3 transforming your life (blog as business). Payback from blog is not material capital but social capital. Blogging is s lightweight form of consulting.
Cluetrain side of it: to pitch to a CEO, say that blogging will result in better conversations.
Second group focused on the pilot-project blog. Skipping the “why” question, went directly to the what would it look like? (Phil posted a lot of this to the wiki). The overt purpose is for the pilot to produce the intellectual results that would justify the manager giving the go-ahead. The covert purpose would involve getting people on board emotionally. So the group worked on ways that one might make those responses more likely. We deemed it important to choose participants carefully, whether to stack the deck or to find people for whom blogging would serve an immediately useful purpose. We talked over how long it takes to make a case on behalf of blogging: a day? a week? one shift?
The third group considered the changing state of technology and the work environment that children will be modulating into — an environment wildly different from that for which schools are presently structured. The group discussed learning-how-to-learn, pathfinding without already knowing what the path is. Students need to learn how to develop social networks. The critical piece used to be finding resources; now it’s finding people who’ve already done that research. The conclusions one draws may still be individual, but they need to learn how to conduct shared research. School assignments are artificial; now students can actually write their own textbook. The process itself is as useful as the end product. Skype enables language students to talk with native speakers.
(For the record: the snow outside verges on whiteout conditions. All the snow we haven’t gotten this winter is falling on BlogWalk Chicago.)
When would you (as a manager) fire a blogger?
Now we’re wrapping up. What are the most important things learned today — and what follow-up should we cover? The piloting discussion provided a helpful framework relative to planning a similar enterprise. We made human connections, and we participated in imagining the ways that this technological transformation may affect us. This is a center of what’s happening, but instead we should understand that we’re already changing business-as-usual. Why aren’t we 0wnz0ring the world? Blogs aren’t necessarily appropriate, though, for all corporate purposes. We had a great conversational in-person blog right here today. Stuart is making a strong case for Skype — I may have to give that a try. People express a lot of appreciation for the catalytic effect of blogging and meeting people; everyone in the room is an enthusiastic blogger, but many here say that acquaintance with online personae amplifies their interest in hearing people’s voices, seeing their faces.
Pictures available at flickr.