Wednesday 15 June 2005

Dark Blogs: A case study of an enterprise blog... or perhaps not

I'm beginning to really like Nancy White's Full Circle Online Blog, as she picks up on some interesting stuff. This time she's blogged about Suw Charman's case study on a "Dark Blog" (PDF file) at a European Pharmaceutical Group used for sharing competitive intelligence.

However the more I read this case study the more troubled I became. For example, the case study is introduced with the following:

"This case study examines how a European pharmaceutical group used Traction Software's TeamPage ( enterprise weblog software to create a competitive intelligence (CI) knowledge base to replace previous platforms such as Lotus Notes databases and static websites."

Ok. Fair enough so far, but then it sounds like they then duplicated the core functionality of Lotus Notes with the new solution such as things like user permissions and flexibility in managing unstructured information, ease of deployment etc. The other interesting point is that when you read the details you'll find they began planning in late 2002 and but then the development of the application didn't start until 2004. Not exactly what I would call quick.

If anything - from a technical perspective - all we have here is a case of someone building a better mouse trap. That's a fair enough outcome but (at the risk of repeating myself) we need to focus on understanding the difference between the benefits of blogging as a style of hyper-communication versus blogs as an information technology platform. It also raises a question for me as to what exactly is a blog?

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  1. James, I decided to pop over here to comment (and thanks for your comment on my blog). I think you are digging down to the really interesting question about how technologies emerge and are adopted/adapted by groups and organizations... regardless of original intent.

    The question, "what is a blog" is an example. Is it whatever we make it to be? Is it a tool or a genre?

    My question on reading the case was about the very controlled nature of their application. That seemed quite different from the genre of blogging - the open, unbridled way blogs can operate.

    But from a technological perspective (aka mousetrap), it seemed like a reasonable adaptation of the underlying technology. (Also found it odd they did not exploit RSS yet, which to me is a central value!)

    I'm finding it hard when I can look at these issues from the two lenses of process and technology, but haven't adequately found a way to evaluate with a perspective bridged between the two. Does that make any sense?

  2. Thanks Nancy. What you say does make sense and I think its an issue that applies to many of the emerging social technologies.

    BTW Did you see that Steve Baker from Business Week made a similar comment here.

    "Should these tools be called blogs? Probably not. But it doesn't really matter."

  3. James, I like how you phrased it in your comment on the blogspotting site.

    "...they have developed functionality in a tool that has been inspired by blogging software."

    Inventiveness (a little more structured than improvisation) at work!


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