It seemed that my keynote talk at KM Singapore helped to change some people’s thinking about intranets. Challenging the notion that they are old, dull sites containing policies, I generated new enthusiasm for what intranets can (and should) do. But the most controversy came during the question-and-answer session, where I found myself saying:
“Blogs and wikis are dead.”
This caused quite a stir in the room, and more than a few follow-up questions during the breaks. So I thought I would expand on this statement here. Let’s start with wikis.
Wikis aren’t the easiest tool to use. While wikipedia has been a stratospheric success, this hasn’t translated into huge adoption for wikis. Most people don’t know what they are, and this number is falling rather than growing.
One of the problems is wiki markup, which I’ve argued against in the past (wiki markup has no future). Even the wiki products themselves are ditching wiki markup, replacing it with WYSIWYG editing.
So while we should be doing more collaborative content creation, it needs to be simpler and more intuitive than wikis.
Let’s face it, blogs have struggled within the enterprise. It’s a great idea to give a voice to senior management and key experts, but people are hesitant to take up the baton. In part, it’s the name “blogs”, which can be quite intimidating. It also takes real commitment to keep blogging, and it’s hard to sustain in the medium to long term.
Why not just add commenting to news? And then open up news so that most (all?) staff can post news items. (This is something I’ll be covering in an article soon.) Better this than a separate “blog central” that competes with other communication channels.
Both wikis and blogs sell a technology. They are fundamentally geeky tools, alongside RSS and personalisation. The majority of staff don’t really understand them, beyond a vague familiarity with the name.
Am I arguing against collaboration and social tools? Quite the opposite! We need to substantially grow these capabilities within organisations, and spread their adoption and use.
But instead of pushing tools and functionality, each delivered on a separate platform, we should be providing simple, integrated and coordinated experiences. Facebook doesn’t need to provide a “blog central” and “video central” — these are just two elements of the overall solution (they don’t even get a distinct name).
So let’s stop talking about “blogs and wikis”, and instead talk more about helping staff to work better together.