The Secret Life of Documents

By Marc Solomon posted 01-04-2011 22:54


I was listening recently to a podcast of On Point my favorite NPR talk radio and the episode was about how talk was losing out to texting for supremacy of message control, if not as the de facto communications channel.

One unexpected turn was reframing the familiar forty-something litany about the death of privacy -- the refrain about how we've handed the keys of our smart phones over to Mark Zuckerberg or the highest bidder according to login credentials of banking assets sorted by the balances on those accounts.
But what my cranky tin-fingered voice-mail leaving voice finally appreciated was the maniacal control texters must feel for never having a ring tone set off on a crowded bus or being able to leave a sweet nothing for their romantic partners in the middle of a business meeting. That's a level of privacy I had never fathomed.
Then I tried to connect this unadorned and yet scripted form of communication to SharePoint. What's most notable isn't how they connect but what a non-sequitur 1:1 electronic communications is with the level of formality and orchestration implicit in an ECM.
On an intranet nearly all roads lead to workflows and documents. In either case the activity is highly structured and contained to a fluid but rigid set of interactions -- each one dependent on team work and group behaviors in highly public settings -- well above the personal radars and certainly below the comfort zones of most texting-centric 20-somethings.
What would reduce the claustrophobic dimensions of exchanging ideas within our firewalls? Is there a role here for SharePoint? After all, it’s not what you know. It’s what you choose to do with it. To that point Taxonomist Joseph Busch relates a client who refused to turn over the tags applied by their users to public domain materials. Why? The content was transferable but the tagging was proprietary. The conclusion? Content accessible to all is either a commodity (by subscription) or neutral (free). The business value is derived in what folks do with it.
In the not-so-distant future an influential mover-shaker submits to a new kind of external intelligence that tracks everything they see, hear and read on a topic that consumes them for 7 days. The following week we compare that to everything they will publicly say or publish in their tweets, blogs, speeches, and other traceables.Until then how do we inform the question of freshness? That sweet spot between high interest and low redundancy? De-du-pli-ca-tion is a weak, meandering five syllable word that can be spelled out in two punchier terms – my stuff! 
Weeding out redundant versions of documents should leave not only the unique ones but the extent of their distinction. In other words if I take a preexisting document and change 42% of it, that's my imprint. If another colleague now repurposes 96% of the same we've got quite the synergistic collaboration – not to mention an achievement of your KM team on SharePoint. Yes, what we referred to in college as plagiarism is actually an engine of knowledge capital that we prefer to call leveraging, a.k.a. thinking outside the bucket.
The best answers are where "why" trumps "what" – why are people searching and for what? How will they use what they find? Neither search logs nor user tags get at this. Is there a way of getting to the most highly used stuff that happens to be the most unique in terms of word usage? It's baby stepping but it's a start. 

#Security #millennials #authorship #texting #privacy #SharePoint