Establishing a community
I’m currently working hard trying to establish a community within CSC. It’s a technical community with stakeholders from all over the company, with lots of different perspectives and drivers. Whilst at the top level we all share business success objectives, scratch below the surface and many diverse objectives (and inconsistent) appear.
The tools at my disposal include a fairly good wiki and blogs, but both suffer a little from being hidden behind forms based authentication which isn’t very RSS friendly. I’m noticing a few things:
- Creating a wiki of this complexity requires a lot of up front work on structure, in order to achieve something navigable. Allowing such a structure to just evolve just doesn’t work because search will not be the primary navigation model.
- In this wiki, a lot of the value will come from context, ie while looking at information on a particular technology, you will easily be able to navigate up to find comparisons with other technologies, sideways to find use cases for the technology and cross and upsell opportunities etc.
- We don’t have enough time or a large enough user base to allow a folksonomy to evolve, so we need to design a taxonomy which is proving very challenging as we have objectives like tag discoverability which are not easy to achieve with a complex namespace.
- Getting people to contribute requires a lot of effort, at least right now, its just not embedded in our culture to put effort into helping (unknown) others outside of the direct request response model of email. Even when people are keen to contribute there’s quite a learning curve to get over in terms of using the wiki and making their content discoverable
So right now I’m reading reading reports and listening to quite a lot of Podcasts about a variety of community building experiences. Gartner has a couple of useful reports and I particularly enjoyed these two Podcasts from John Udell (yet again) that I listened to while out walking this morning. Neither of them seems directly related to my problem, but they both have some really key insights.
On this episode of Interviews with Innovators, Jon Udell chats with Michael Caulfield, one of the founders of BlueHampshire.com. In less than a year, BlueHampshire has gone from zero to sixty. Today it’s the dominant progressive community-based political blog in New Hampshire, cited by national media (old and new) and respected by state and national politicians. Udell asks: how do you launch and run a successful state-level political blog?
On this episode of Interviews with Innovators, Jon Udell’s guest is Beth Jefferson, the founder of BiblioCommons. Her company’s new software aims to transform public libraries’ online catalogs into environments for social discovery of resources that are cataloged not only by librarians, but also by patrons.