Monday, 16 June 2008

Wikis and Blogs: same but different?

It struck me today that the types of Web 2.0 tool (or at least, publishing rather than finding tool) can be roughly divided into two paradigms. We could call the first the add-a-post paradigm. Into this camp fall blogs, Twitter, discussion forums (or bulletin boards, if you're old school) and, I think, social networks. The second paradigm could be called the overwrite paradigm. It includes not only wikis but Google Docs, Zoho and online mindmapping like Mind42.

It also struck me that the first paradigm seems to be the more intuitive for most people. Or at least, it seems to be easier to get people to adopt it. Much has been written about the problems involved in getting wikis to take off. As Jay Hariani says here, "When we hold presentations with the goal of explaining to users that Word is the past and Clearspace, Confluence, Zoho, or Google Docs is the future, they often smile politely, but have trouble seeing how things might be. Selling them on the E2.0 ethos of knowledge reuse, search not store, and folksonimies takes a lot of convincing." Why this is, isn't quite clear, although I suspect it's a combination several things:
- people like to see 'their post' being responded to rather than changed;
- they might feel diffident about changing someone else's work
- they might feel an overwrite paradigm space is 'owned' by someone else in a way that they don't about an add-a-post space.

If I'm right about all this, it will take longer to see widespread adoption (assuming other things are equal) of the overwrite model in organisations than it will for the add-a-post model. The only exception I can immediately think of would be for a heavily templated or structured overwrite space which meets a clear and specific business process need.

What do you think?


Jon Mell said...

Hi Simon - this holds true if you start with looking at the technology. If you focus on business problems and stories about how people's working practices will change for the better you get a better response. There have been some great discussions on the business adoption and business use cases for Enterprise 2.0 at the Community site for the recent Boston conference (especially and

Instead of saying "Word is dead and wikis are the future" you say "There is a way to make you four times more efficient than you are now at reviewing documents" you will hopefully get more attention.

Have blogged a bit about this and

Simon Carswell said...

Hi Jon. Good to hear from you. I hope all's well at Trovus. Thanks for the links. I'll check them out.
Regards, Simon.