I could tell you how many steps make up the streets rising like stairways, and of the degree of the arcades' curves, and what kind of zinc scales cover the roofs; but I already know this would be the same as telling you nothing. The city does not consist of this, but of relationships between the measurements of its space and the events of its past...A description of Zaira as it is today should contain all Zaira's past. -Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Blogs as Nodes of Exchange

I had a great conversation today with Austin Henderson, who (despite the out of date online bio) is our Director of Research Strategy (and otherwise has a fairly illustrious career in HCI).

Austin is leading a small group to tackle our internal communications issues...both how can teams work better together, and how can others have a view into what is going on in other teams. I just joined this group, which has been meeting for a few weeks and consists mostly of engineers. So far Austin has set up some distribution lists, so people can email groups more easily, and they are looking into knowledge managment/collaboration tools (we do have Intraspect, which I, and many others hate, looking toward Sharepoint). And we have a wiki which can be the "anvil" for forging documents.

Today, Austin asked us if anything was missing, and I mentioned that there wasn't a conversation space. I and brought up the blog my team in the US has been using to collaborate with Explore Research which is working with us in India. He is not yet a blog user, so we talked a bit on why the India blog was different than email, and it forced me to think about the way the tools are used and how it feels. I know I posted things to the blog that I wouldn’t have bothered to email.

Anyway some of what emerged: You are “in the blog.” The fact that it is a place makes it different from email conceptually. Also, we talked about pull vs. push. For instance, while I thought the PostSecret blog I talked about in my previous post would be of interest to others in my division, I didn't email it to all 70 people because I didn’t want to spam them…I blogged it her and emailed the link to some folks I thought would be particularly interested.

I initially called the blog a “conversation space” but Austin noted that only one person creates the initial article, then it is commented on. He said the blog was instead was an “exchange space” since it is “a place where you come together to exchange articles.” IM, on the other hand, allows both parties to creating the “article.” I think IM is closer to a true (though perhaps abbreviated) conversation, while it is a Wiki that allows the users to negotiate content.

Anyway, there are lots of blog postings out there about blogs as conversations, blog as exchange put a new slant on it for me. As an anthropologist, my thoughts now turn to gifting...

1 comment:

Charu said...

interesting... have a look at this post - another slant on the 'internet gift culture' - http://www.antropologi.info/anthropology/index.php?id=428e5ed449039#comments