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Building community inside the enterprise

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Case study about building a collaboration wiki inside the IT community at The Washington Post. …

Case study about building a collaboration wiki inside the IT community at The Washington Post.

First presented to students at USDA Graduate School in June 2008.

Published in: Business, Technology

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  • 1. Community building inside the enterprise Moving toward wiki adoption at The Washington Post By Dave Burke. Presented at USDA Graduate School in June, 2008. 1
  • 2. IT Workspace • Our case study • What’s a wiki • Two key concepts: linking and tagging • Lessons learned so far
  • 3. Washington Post IT Unit • About 200 people • Supports operations of the newspaper and some operations at other Washington Post Company affiliates. • Publishing systems • Advertising systems • Syndication • Accounting • Production • Infrastructure
  • 4. My Team: Web Solutions • 14 people • Design, build, and manage web applications to support The Washington Post • These include. . .
  • 5. Background - Web Solutions • Back to 2005, we’ve been working on how to better support our apps • Much of the problem stemmed from important knowledge being trapped • Various private and shared drives • Old email threads • But mostly, people’s brains
  • 6. KLMNO Risk of wetware-based knowledge storage For instance, on most Saturdays. . . http://www.flickr.com/photos/aok/2190318934 http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikelo/614958266/ Technical Architect His boss dave burke
  • 7. Background - Web Solutions • 2006-2007: The stakes for application support were getting higher • SOA was making troubleshooting more complex • A large SAP integration was making it more business critical • We needed a better process, and a better tool • We tried a wiki
  • 8. Background - Web Solutions • Results from our 60-day pilot • Wiki works as a platform • But the product we chose didn’t cut it • Special markup language • Users were anonymous • Attachments/Images were difficult to handle • We kept using it
  • 9. Document Repository Study project • WYSIWYG Editor - no markup language • Named users and single signon • Full-text search, including attachments • Email, RSS integration • Tagging for dynamic organization and blogs
  • 10. What is a wiki? 13
  • 11. What is a wiki? A collection of web pages Every page is editable Just click, type, and save. Every page has a name Link by page name; no HTML required. Source: Ross Mayfield. http://www.slideshare.net/ross/new-paradigms-for-using-computers
  • 12. What is a wiki? Communication Not a “Platform” “Channel” (e.g., e-mail, IM) READER EDITOR EDITOR READER AUTHOR READER AUTHOR AUTHOR READER • Visible to all • Visible only to participants • Persistent • Transient
  • 13. What is a wiki? • Wikis build group memory (or at least a better chance at it) • Simplifies collaboration (everyone works on the same document) • Accuracy through (identified) peer review • Every page revision is saved Source: Ross Mayfield. http://www.slideshare.net/ross/new-paradigms-for-using-computers • Roll-back changes with a click
  • 14. What is a wiki?
  • 15. What is a wiki?
  • 16. What is a wiki?
  • 17. What is a wiki?
  • 18. IT Workspace Wiki 19
  • 19. IT Workspace Wiki It’s like our own Wikipedia. 19
  • 20. KLMNO Linking vs. Tagging
  • 21. KLMNO Linking vs. Tagging Linking connects individual pages •“Hand Made” • Static
  • 22. KLMNO Linking vs. Tagging Linking connects individual pages •“Hand Made” • Static Tagging creates groups of related pages •“Machine Made” • Dynamic
  • 23. KLMNO What are tags? • Keywords related to an object (e.g., photo, wiki page) • Tags categorize objects on the fly Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cambodia4kidsorg/260004685/in/set-72157594311446988/ http://workspace.washpost.com dave burke
  • 24. KLMNO Tagging example: photos on Flickr.com View this video slide: http://bit.ly/St5A1 http://workspace.washpost.com dave burke
  • 25. KLMNO Relating photos with tags http://workspace.washpost.com dave burke
  • 26. KLMNO Relating photos with tags “Christmas” “Evan” http://workspace.washpost.com dave burke
  • 27. KLMNO Tagging works similarly on the wiki View this video slide: http://bit.ly/puuZn
  • 28. KLMNO Linking vs. Tagging “IT’s News” Linking connects individual pages •“Hand Made” • Static Tagging creates groups of related pages “System” •“Machine Made” “WebLogic” • Dynamic Tags are keywords
  • 29. Lessons learned so far
  • 30. Lessons learned so far • 90% of wiki success is half mental • Mindset shift - Sharing by default • Current: "I only know of three people who need this information, so I'll email it to them." • New and Better: "I only know of three people who need this information, so I'll publish it on the workspace for them, and any others I don't know about." • Best: “The workspace is my default tool for collaboration and communication, because it's easy, and it gives me maximum value for my time. I only use email when I really need privacy.”
  • 31. Lessons learned so far • 90% of wiki success is half mental • Publishing Anxiety • A belief that the workspace is more official makes people think their work needs to be polished and 100% accurate, which leads to them doing nothing. • Current: "I'm happy to answer questions in the hallway and by email, but writing something 'official' is a bigger deal." • New and Better: “I understand that the IT Workspace is a living document. I can contribute information I’m only ‘pretty sure’ about, and note it as such, just like I would in email.”
  • 32. Lessons learned so far • 90% of wiki success is half mental • Organize-as-you-go model takes getting used to Traditional New 1. Write 1. Write 2. Edit 2. Publish 3. Publish 3. Edit (repeat)
  • 33. Lessons learned so far #1 Question about the wiki so far: “Put this info on the wiki? Okay. . . where?”
  • 34. Information Architecture Challenges • Tag ambiguity
  • 35. Information Architecture Challenges • Overcome some tag ambiguity by declaring a tag for a particular topic
  • 36. Lack of structure scares some people
  • 37. Lack of structure scares some people • It helps to provide an overall structure to start
  • 38. Emergence doesn’t scale down to enterprise levels http://www.useit.com/alertbox/participation_inequality.html
  • 39. Emergence doesn’t scale down to enterprise levels Wikipedia IT Workspace 1.67 Billion 150 1.5 Billion 135 http://www.useit.com/alertbox/participation_inequality.html 167 Million 15
  • 40. Emergence doesn’t scale down to enterprise levels Wikipedia IT Workspace 1.67 Billion 150 1.5 Billion 135 http://www.useit.com/alertbox/participation_inequality.html 167 Million 15 http://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-sends-167-billion-users-to-wikipedia- per-month/5084/
  • 41. Key roles in wiki success Managers Gardeners
  • 42. Why use the wiki? • Support self-service • Fewer late-night (or mid-day) support calls • Easier access to the information you need to support your systems • Less occupational spam • Wiki pages and blogs allow you freedom to choose what info you receive • Keep your skillset current
  • 43. That’s it. Questions? Dave Burke dave@daveburke.com http://slideshare.net/daveburke 43