I'm hearing a lot about how the generation that's currently entering the workforce is going to be more supportive of knowledge management concepts than the generation going out, because the young workers will already be familiar with wikis, blogs, tagging, bookmarking, and profiling.
To support this evolution, I plead with developers to come together and adopt a standard for tagging. We've gotten to a place where users feel confident that they can use basic search language standards such as Boolean operators in most search engines; I'd like to feel the same level of confidence when tagging data online. But right now the rules vary from site to site, and if I want to get my tags right I have to remember where I am and what to do. For example, here are the tagging rules for some of the web services I use every day:
Flickr – space-separated, double quotes can be used to join words together in a single tag.
Del.icio.us – space-separated. Multiple-word tags need to be joined with a hyphen or underscore. Commas and quotes become part of the tag.
Blogger – comma-separated. Quotes become part of the tag.
I can try to keep a mental matrix of which sites use which rules ("If it's Blogger it must be commas!), but if (when) I make mistakes, it's going to affect the integrity of my tags, and by extension the integrity of others' search results.
Please, let's have a standard. I don't care which one. I just want to spend more time searching, learning, and tagging, and less time going back and re-doing all the tags that sorted to the top because they start with ".
If you or your users open multiple SharePoint sites at once, like I do, you may want to consider giving distinct and descriptive names to the lists and libraries on each site. I've been in the habit of keeping the defaults unless there's a good reason not to, with the following result:
These three document libraries are on three different servers. I can check the URL of each by mousing over the tabs, but if I'd named them more descriptively I'd know what they are at a glance.
Just a thought for anyone planning a portal implementation...
I attended the AIIM expo today to hear the keynote speech by Microsoft's Jeff Teper, with demo by Arpan Shah. Teper's talk, "From Business Intelligence to Blogs and Workflow to Wikis: Accelerating Both Empowerment and Governance in a Rapidly Expanding World of Information," discussed the difference between companies that are execution-oriented and those that are innovation-oriented.
The execution-oriented companies are concerned with governance, control, and regulating their internal content. The innovation-oriented companies are concerned with collaboration and empowerment of their users. The two types appear to have different strategic and infrastructure needs, but in reality, all companies need to combine the right amount of both. Execution-oriented companies need to innovate in order to survive in the marketplace, and innovation-oriented companies need some standardization of their work process and product so that they don't end up with duplicative effort and chaos.
Teper showed how Microsoft designed SharePoint (MOSS 2007) with both sides in mind. It has what Teper called the Governance Accelerators:
Consistent site & information architecture
Information management policy
And it has the Empowerment Accelerators:
Intuitive User Interface
Which way does your company tend - toward execution or innovation? Is one of these words part of your mission statement? Have you experienced situations where you needed to enable your organization to work in a different direction than you usually do? I'd love to hear stories or examples from the real world, now that I'm looking at things through execution-vs.-innovation-tinted glasses...
Recently I had a client who wanted to show only "Approved" documents (i.e. documents that had been through the built-in Approval workflow) on a site's home page. When I tried to set up the filter, setting the [Workflow Status] field to Approved, the filter returned no results. As it turns out, workflow status is stored as a numeric value. The values are as follows:
Last week NPR got a lot of flak for their spots on presidential fundraising results as represented by seconds of music. They played "Staying Alive" for Democrats and "I Will Survive" for Republicans. Listeners responded that these spots were "stupid" and "grating," but I admire NPR's creative use of sound length to represent numbers. We do so much data analysis with our eyes; why not format information for the ears, especially when it's going to be consumed in situations like driving, when the eyes are otherwise occupied?
Science backs me up on this. See Seed Magazine's article on sonification of data: "Auditory representation enables recognition of "certain patterns...that you wouldn't be able to see in the [visual] sense," said Marty Woldorff, associate director of Duke's Center for Cognitive Neurosciences and an expert in sensory perception. Vision tends to work best for spatial data, naturally, but it's been established that we process temporal information better by hearing it. For instance, abnormal patterns in EEGs are better grasped by ear than eye, allowing for a quicker diagnosis of epilepsy and other disorders."
And even dearer to my not-quite-a-programmer heart, see the University of Northumbria's research on troubleshooting software bugs by sound: "The constructs of the Pascal programming language can be categorized hierarchically into two classes -- selections and iterations -- which, in turn, have sub-classes... For instance, in the iteration class, the language has a pair of similar bounded loops,: "FOR... TO" and "FOR... DOWNTO". It also has a pair of unbounded loops: "REPEAT" and "WHILE". The researchers used a common theme for each class, and wrote musical motifs that were variations on that theme to make the similar REPEAT and WHILE loops sound distinct, but more similar to each other than to the bounded loops. At the same time, all four of the phrases representing loops sounded similar enough to each other that they could be distinguished as being in the iteration class rather than the selection class."
I'd love to give my eyes a rest and be able to do at least part of my job by listening to data rather than staring at a computer screen. Maybe in my next life I'll be a piano tuner; until then I urge those NPR complainers to re-think their criticism. You don't have to like the song selections, but the concept really works.
- "A site that softens all the fantastic advanced functions Google offers. This site is meant for all those who are not yet familiar with all the possibilities of Google and all the required syntaxes." It's not affiliated with Google but brings together many different flavors of Google search on one page. Useful!
I just discovered that when you choose "Allow management of content types" (in the Advanced Settings of Document Library Settings), you lose the "change column ordering" function. This setting also puts all the columns into alphabetical order, which is bad from a usability standpoint. The columns revert to your chosen order when you un-check the "Allow management of content types" option, but then you lose your custom content types. I can't find a workaround and couldn't turn up anything searching Microsoft Support or the web in general. Hopefully, update to follow.