The Road Ahead is Personal

By Daniel Antion posted 02-09-2012 07:03



Recently, a very simple decision saved us a lot of development work, in a way that was good for my project list but bad for my blog. We had just wired up a pretty useful management dashboard, and up until the day we demonstrated it, we were under the impression that the “management” in management dashboard referred to permissions, not function. The page had so many useful parts, that our next step was to make a personalized version of the page so individuals outside of management could get some of the benefit. I was looking forward to that project, because personalization is high on my list of things to learn more about. I also realized that I wouldn’t be doing most of the work, but rather supplying the “vision” and then blogging about it.

At the last minute, the owner of the dashboard declared that everyone should be able to see it, thus removing the need for a personalized view – or does it? Actually, in this case, it probably does, because there isn’t enough individual information to improve the experience for any one user. On the other hand, this may be the perfect place to start considering personalization. Now that we have the luxury of time, I am thinking that we could create somewhat of a hybrid version of this page. We can look at ways to highlight the activity of the person viewing the page, or give them the option to toggle between a personal view and an aggregate view.

We are also looking at ways to increase the value of the content we have available in SharePoint by accepting and promoting personal input. We are small enough that we don’t really need SharePoint’s social features to foster a sense of community, but I like them for opinion sharing. As with every conduit in my life, I don’t have the time to read everything that everyone decides to store in SharePoint. If I know why they put it there, I might be more interested. If I know that someone whose opinion I value thought a particular item was “thought provoking” or “a good description of…” I would certainly be more inclined to read it.

We used what might be called explicit personalization in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan last year and the subsequent damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors. People contributed news stories, research results, white-papers and other information to a shared library. One person was assigned the task of reading through the list and ranking items on a scale that went from “Interesting” to “Required Reading”. The items on the required reading list represented those subjects with which we all had to be familiar. SharePoint’s tagging feature provides the ability to push beyond explicit identification of quality and importance to a more ad-hoc identification of those attributes. In the face of a catastrophic event, explicit works well; on a day-to-day basis, we can be our own judge, but I for one would appreciate a little help from my friends.

Note: When I wrote this post, Christian Buckley had not yet published his excellent article: “Contextualization is the End Goal in KM”. If you also think that social computing has a future in the way we categorize and search for information, be sure to check out his post.

#social #tagging #sharepoint #SharePoint #personalization