Monday 21 April 2008

Streaming and Batching

This is a great post from Ross Mayfield and a hat tip for the link to this NYT article (I'm a sucker for this kind of thing) that reminds us that techniques we use for managing our inboxes have nothing to do with the medium, its more about individual work practices and the efficiencies of batch processing.

Ross' point here is spot on:

"We've known for a while now that creating private spaces for collaboration can aid productivity by taking some email out of the inbox.  And more recently with wikis and the right practices, groups can agree on protocols to be more effective and adapt them rapidly... this needs discipline, but for the whole group."

This goes to the heart of what I've pitched as the solution for managing email overload in the past, where I advised:

"Only as a group can you deal with eliminating the source of the problem and develop workable protocols to help reduce the e-mail burden on each other."

In that same post I was also commenting about the potential for the use and misuse of RSS:

"I think the same lessons will apply to RSS, but there are new opportunities with this particular communication technology to help reduce information overload through a combination of more open communication styles, content filtering, and content mining... In other words, RSS could be used as a group communication technology where email is essentially peer-to-peer. In fact, using RSS in combination with email rather than as a replacement may be the best way to reduce and control information overload on both fronts.

However, on its own RSS will in no way be a magic bullet - if applied badly in organisations, people should be prepared for more of the same. In the meantime I can't wait to see how the email productivity advisors with their quick fixes evolve into RSS experts..."

(BTW I honestly didn't intend for this to be a post about RSS - let alone Enterprise RSS - but its funny how it comes back to RSS afterall!)

Of course, naturally Ross pushes the wiki perspective but I think what he suggests in his post about the interplay between streaming and batching of communication is essentially correct. At this point I can't but help think about Sam Lawrence's comments on Mike Gotta's blog that "Social software is email inside out", but that's a post for another day :-)

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