TECH TALK: Tech’s 10X Tsunamis: Blogs and RSS (Part 4)

Blogs take silent voices and make them heard within the enterprise and on the Internet. They are a disruptive innovation in the world of information processing and knowledge management. Writes Ray Ozzie of Groove (and the architect of Lotus Notes):

What has struck me over the past few weeks is the fact that blogs represent a radical new approach to public discussion – one that, in essence, completely and naturally “solves” the signal:noise problem, and does so through creative exploitation of a unique architecture based upon decentralized representation of discussion threads. Let me elaborate.

In traditional discussion, topics and their responses are contained and organized within a centralized database. The relationship between topics and responses is generally maintained in a manner specific to the nature of the database – that is, in newsgroups the messages might be related by Message-ID hyperlinks or crudely by title. Summary-level “views” are generated through database queries. And that has been the general architectural design pattern of public discussions for quite some time.

But blogs accomplish public discussion through a far different architectural design pattern. In the Well’s terminology, taken to its extreme, you own your own words. If someone on a blog “posts a topic”, others can respond, but generally do so in their own blogs, hyperlinked back to the topic’s permalink. This goes on and on, back and forth. In essence, it’s the same hyperlinking mechanism as the traditional discussion design pattern, except that the topics and responses are spread out all over the Web. And the reason that it “solves” the signal:noise problem is that nobody bothers to link to the “flamers” or “spammers”, and thus they remain out of the loop, or form their own loops away from the mainstream discussion. A pure architectural solution to a nagging social issue that crops up online.

The last word comes from an article in Information Week (July 22,2002) entitled Are You Blogging Yet? article (July 22, 2002). Writes John Foley: Put [the] three dynamics together–the empowered consumer, the connected professional, and the collaborative business–and it’s easy to see why there’s so much buzz about weblogging. What professional wouldn’t benefit from being part of a loose-knit virtual community that helps people share ideas and experiences?

A Personal View

On a personal note, I have been blogging for more than three-and-half-months. I can feel the same excitement that I did when I created my first web page in 1994. My blog already serves as an extended memory for me, helping me get to articles I like at later points of time, and creating an archive of my thinking and ideas. Using the RSS feeds from other bloggers helps me processmuch more information in the same amount of time. I have also made available blogs within my organisation so that people can create their own public, private and group blogs.

My learning so far: For blogs to work, they need to be like email: everyone should use them. There will be some who will write much more, but others also need to read and contribute. Blogging is a fundamental change – writing does not come naturally for most. But thinking and doing things does. Think of blogging as writing about what is doing and thinking – that makes it easier to get started. Writing what one is thinking in ones own space makes sharing of knowledge much more easier. Blogs are what the Web should have been in the first place.

Additional Reading:

  • Tech Talk: Blogging (Feb 25 March 1, 2002)
  • Tech Talk: Knowledge Weblogs [1 2 ] (March 30 April 1, 2002)
  • Tech Talk: The New WWW: Weblogs [1 2] ( May 6-7, 2002)
  • Tech Talk: The Digital Dashboard [1 2 3] (June 20-24, 2002)

    Tomorrow: Business Process Standards

  • Published by

    Rajesh Jain

    An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.