We are all aware these days of the need to make better use of our available resources, whether this is recycling our domestic waste or minimising our use of energy guzzling technologies. We apply these green principles to our physical environments – why shouldn’t we apply them to our intellectual environments as well?
In the world of business we waste an awful lot of our existing and available knowledge. We reinvent the wheel on a regular basis when we have perfectly good, well documented wheels available to us. We don’t tap into the accumulated experience of our staff. We store vast amounts of information at considerable expense, often making it hard to find in the process, and then feel overloaded with the trivial bits of information that seem to get in our way on a day to day basis.
The main tools currently for business communication are the email and the Word document. Email is commonly cited as one of the main sources of stress and frustration in organisational life. This is largely because it gives priority to the sender of information. The amount of information coming into our inbox is not in our control and we still feel an obligation to respond to things that have been sent to us. Mostly what we are sent are Word documents which have become very formulaic with multi-page reports the norm simply because they are written to a formula and a template.
We could do so much better by than this by using social tools which can add immense value both in the reduction of daily noise and in a greater ability to reuse our existing knowledge. Blogging and Twitter are teaching us collectively how to point and as more of us do this we develop networked sense-making which enhances our ability to learn and improve. We build networks of people to follow who are good at finding, and sharing, the good stuff. Our networks filter the web for us on a daily basis and they dig into our old information to retrieve the gold dust.
These tools are also teaching a more concise form of writing, potentially a whole new form of business literacy. They require us to give context to information and to add value. Unlike email, this time the control is with the receiver of information and they know it. If you don’t make a difference for someone else with your use of social tools no one will subscribe to you – they will tune you out.
Bloggers are the rag and bone men of the information world. They root around in the rubbish tips of information, picking over the bones and finding the good bits. They combine discarded writing in new, innovative and productive ways. They re-discover long forgotten information and breathe life into it by giving it context and meaning. When they combine in networks they offer the possibility of increasing the usefulness and longevity of your information as never before.