Tuesday, 31 March 2009


I recently started a blog at work (as part of a test of some "enterprise 2.0" solutions).

Here's what I wrote today...

During an early morning conversation at work with McColleague last week (by early morning, I mean before 8am), we got talking about her experiences the previous day.

She'd been at a youth project in a less-illustrious part of Edinburgh helping some young people do some mock interviews and found the experience a little frustrating.  It seems that when asked questions like "tell me about a time when you worked as part of a team", a fair few of these young people only had short answers - like "when I played football".

It was like they had lost the art of conversation. These young people didn't know how to share their story in a way that would demonstrate who they are and what makes them different.  I could go on a rant about upbringing and the importance of family and community in shaping our young people, but I won't.

In a culture that loves headlines, short, sharp updates, sound-bites, extracts, summaries, text messaging and, yes, twitter, I find it interesting.  I'm aware that I don't hold a conversation with *that* many people everyday.  I probably only talk with three or four people for more than 30 seconds, the rest of the time it's a passing comment, sharing a joke, asking for help.  It can be difficult to have a real conversation when we are all under pressure to deliver results and juggle umpteen tasks.  It's those real conversations where experiences are shared and each party knows they have learned something new (about themselves, about someone else?).

I think we can lose the art of conversation when we don't have (or make) time to understand our experiences and the information that we are surrounded by.  Can we listen if we struggle to interpret and filter what we are hearing.  Can we speak if we don't really know what we are talking about?! (case in point, some Football Pundits and politicians).

Not for one minute do I think we're all to be experts in rhyming meter or hold great oratorical discussions when we want to ask how our colleagues got on trying that new recipe out last night.  I

So, what does that have to do with work?  Well, if we are in a bite-sized, on-demand culture where we have more information around us than ever, how do we organise the apparent chaos/how do we make sense of all the *stuff* we are bombarded with so we can have coherent thoughts that we can share with people?  I think the value of being able to tag/rate/comment and generally socialise information (or *content* as it might be described) has become apparent.

In our organisation we have loads of information, loads of talented people and a lot of intellectual capital tied up in our heads.  We can use social tools to make this kind of information searchable, trackable and ultimately more decipherable.  It won't make us all more intellegent, but may help us get better at filtering the froth that we don't need.  I can find more relevant content on del.ic.ous or digg or evern twitter when I search tags, than if I just sent a few words out into the googlesphere.  Okay, maybe Google will give me better ranked results than ever, but it's the social aspect that can lead us to the put our trust in the content - removing some of our need to filter everything.


What do you think?

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