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Self-service social computing tools such as Wikis and Blogs offer fast routes
to publishing and collaboration on an Intranet. These applications enrich the Intranet “Under
Web;” the informal layer that foments beneath formal information
channels.  (The “Under Web” concept was listed as one of the Trends for 2008)

The under Web taps into “real” work, using social computing to allow employees to connect, collaborate and innovate in ways previously unimaginable. At a
recent DWG members meeting, I heard about remote engineering teams using a Wiki
to share information between Russia and China.
These teams used this tool to share knowledge about work they did not
know had been done elsewhere. It was a good example of how a Wiki can empower a
global workforce to connect and collaborate.

For an Intranet to derive the most value from this informal space, tools must be implemented carefully.

First of all, it’s important to provide Wikis and Blogs only after processes
for publishing “formal” information channels to the Intranet are well
established.  If the right people are
publishing to the right place on the Intranet, and there is good editorial workflow
and governance, then the Intranet is sturdy enough to add an open,
less-structured layer of content. If there are no good controls in place, then
handing everyone a Wiki to use will blur the lines between informal and formal
communication. What’s worse, it may threaten the information structure needed
to support robust personalization and effective information discovery.

Some organizations may be able to pull off a totally
self-published Intranet, but these organizations tend to be smaller, more
focused, and will have a very strong culture of online communication.

Here are some more tips for getting the best out of self-service publishing.

  •  Log in using common authentication to ensure
    accountability for posts or edits.
  • Establish User Experience guidelines that distinguish
    the Wiki or Blog space from the more formal layers of the Intranet, yet still
    visually connect these spaces to the Intranet as a whole.
  • Publish and, if possible, require acceptance of,
    codes of conduct for self-service publishing. Better yet, make sure online
    communication is included in the overall code of conduct for the corporation.
  • Publish FAQs or Help for getting started, how-to
    and etiquette.
  • Search: Require Wiki and Blog owners to “opt-in”
    to include their content in Intranet-wide search.
  • Require labels or tags before publishing.
  • Automate archiving after a certain amount of
    inactivity.
  • Use RSS output if available to provide feeds of
    Wiki content into Portal implementation (or elsewhere, as desired, on the
    Intranet)
  •  Finally, leverage the power of this technology
    by training content managers and editors to connect their formal content
    (stories, news articles, features, etc.) with these informal channels. CMS
    templates should allow content authors to easily add links to related Wikis
    and/or Blogs in a consistent location. Easiest is to build a template that
    provides a search result window for wiki and blog-generated buzz on the topic
    of the story.

About the author

Nancy Goebel - DWG's Managing Director for Member & Benchmarking ServicesNancy Goebel is the Digital Workplace Group’s Managing Director, Member Services & Strategic Partnerships.

During her six-year tenure with DWG, Nancy has been involved in account management, benchmarking, research, blogging and executive producing Digital Workplace Live and DW 24.

Prior to joining the Digital Workplace Group, Nancy was a accomplished executive at JPMorgan Chase where she built and led a global team in desigining and implementing an award-winning intranet. She also led digital enablement and business re-engineering initiatives.

Outside work, Nancy is a wine maker, fundraiser, meditator, wife and mother of two.

Connect with Nancy on Twitter: @nancyatdwg or on Google +.

5 Comments

  1. Self-service publishing: Implement with care

    Abigail Lewis-Bowen writes about carefully implementing wikis and other enterprise 2.0 tools. To quote: First of all, it’s important to provide Wikis and Blogs only after processes for publishing formal information channels to the Intrane…

    Reply
  2. I agree with pretty much all you say here, except that I think we have to stop talking about the under Web. This kind of collaboratively produced, less formal content will have an equal part to play in the blended intranets of the near future. See my blog for more thoughts on blending…..

    Reply
  3. Hi Ross, thanks for your comment. I do agree that this type of content will have an equal part to play, if not more than equal. However, it does seem be necessary to differentiate still between the types of content. I don’t think that “under” necessary connotates something less important, just not official. Okay, maybe it does imply something dark and shady, I suppose.. How about “GrassWeb” (Grassroots Web?).. hmm.. Untranet? Freenet? … Maybe we can get more ideas here..

    Reply
  4. Hi Ross, thanks for your comment. I totally agree that this less formal content plays an equal, if not more than equal part on Intranets of the near future, as you say. But I do like the Under Web notion. For me this term invokes a kind of “bubbling up” of knowledge and connections from the grassroots level of an organization. I don’t really hear anything unimportant or irrelevant in this term. But.. if not Under Web, what else? I’d love to hear some ideas. (FreeNet? GrassWeb? SocialNet?.. okay, maybe not!)

    Reply
  5. Abigail – I hadn’t heard of the term “under web” prior to reading your blog post. Ultimately, you are talking about UGC (I know, I hate the acronym, too) on a grassroots level. Bottom-upNet works for me, though, that’s a mouthful, too.
    Ultimately, you are describing the UGC from individuals without access nor authority with the formal communication channels. Externally, I suppose we call those folks bloggers, internally?
    Your blog post certainly has me thinking, and I will noodle on this for a while.
    What do you see the role of intermediaries between the raw, and sometimes untagged/uncategorized content and the formal editorial channels? Would intermediaries be automatic via search or would you see people playing this role?
    Thanks!

    Reply

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