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Doug Kaye's thoughts on web services, web hosting and managed services.

Who Owns Your Weblog? Here's a scenario. Within your workplace, you've become the resident guru on widgets. No surprise, then, your weblog tends to focus on widgets, and through your weblog you're the one that keeps the rest of the team informed. But widgets are everywhere. There's an entire widget industry, and your expertise is valuable beyond your company's walls. This raises some interesting questions:

  1. Can you--from your workplace--legally and ethically write a public Widget Weblog? (Assume that widgets aren't your company's product.) It's not obvious. Isn't it like email, which courts have ruled is company property? (Hey, I'm not saying I agree with them.)
  2. Assuming you can, who owns the content if you leave the company? You've published it under your name (The Widget Wizard), but again, it was produced as part of your job.
  3. Come to think of it, is it even proper to publish something from work under your own name? Should it contain one of those "Property of..." statements?
  4. You might me better off publishing the Widget Wizard Weblog from home, on your own time, but then we haven't succeeded in using weblogs in the workplace, have we? [discuss]

Posted Sunday, December 02, 2001 7:09:57 PM   

Metadata: Weblogs vs. Documents. Good responses to my posting on metadata by Drupal users kika, jibbajabbaboy and Joe Lombardo. A few follow-ups:

jibbajabbaboy says, "the onus of metatagging documents should lie in a select few individuals who maintain the indexing of the blog who are steeped in the blog's subject scope." But weblogs and other forms of microcontent aren't documents. In "The Cluetrain Manifesto" David Weinberger refers to typical documents as Heroic Documents that are carefully crafted, typically in secret or with substantial collaboration and review. Sure, have the librarian analyze them, tag them with metadata and shoehorn them into the Corporate Taxonomy in the 20th-Century Knowledge-Management System. But that ain't blogging. In weglogs, the inter-item organization is neither the taxonomy nor the metadata. It's the hyperlinks--a dynamic taxonomy created on-the-fly by domain experts, not librarians.

jibbajabbaboy also says, "...anyone who maintains a system for controlling data for information retrieval will tell you that the task of maintaining that system (taxonomy, controlled vocabulary) is constant..." Therein lies the rub. Weblogs shouldn't be controlled, for IR or otherwise. "...computer algorithms simply cannot yet understand all of the complex concepts in human languages as a human steeped in a the language and subject matter of the field can." That's right, so dependend on the expert-authored hyperlink. It contains symantic knowledge that can't be reproduced by an algorithm or taxonomist. [More on this good stuff later!]

Update: The discussion has also been blogged over at ia/. Looks like some good information architecture threads there. [discuss]
Posted Sunday, December 02, 2001 6:20:19 PM   

Will's Brain Blog. Will Richardson has a nice Blogger site tracking (among other things) blogging in education and as journalism. [discuss]
Posted Sunday, December 02, 2001 6:18:21 PM   

Incentives. So you've decided to implement weblogs in your organization. How are you going to get people to start blogging? If you come from a classical knowledge-management (KM) background, you're probably thinking of incentives: awards for the most blogging, the weblog most read or something similar. Not! You don't get it and it ain't gonna work.

Blogging is fun and personally satisfying. And it's not "for the good of the organization," it's for "the good of me." The organizaton benefits because the individuals benefit first. They have a tool that lets them converse in ways they couldn't before. If people don't gravitate to it naturally, you're doing something worng. (It may be a serious organizational problem like Big Brotherness.) This gets into the whole culture issue. Weblogs won't work so long as they're a top-down, mandated, organized kind of thing. The same is true if you create rules about their use. As the Cluetrain guys say, it's a conversation, and it better not have any rules about what people can and can't say. Don't worry about incentives, but do worry about doing things that interfere with open conversations. [discuss]
Posted Sunday, December 02, 2001 6:16:59 PM   

Drupal for Klogs. Dries Buytaert, the creator of Drupal, sent this reply to John Robb's K-Logs mailing list, but it didn't make John's cut. No, I don't want to get involved in any controversy surrounding John's policies. He's writing excellent stuff and has every right to moderate as he sees fit. But I don't have anything to sell (at least not until my book is out next year :-)), so I'd like to hear as many voices as possible. All comments welcome here! [discuss]
Posted Sunday, December 02, 2001 6:15:18 PM   



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