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Get messy, to join the conversation

November 14,  2001

Writing in a word processor used to be like preparing a lecture, because you were communing with your own ideas (a solo conversation) while planning to publishing your text to a large group—out there somewhere, later. 

But writing for the Web is like joining a conversation-- now.  

“We expect replies.  I am not typing into my computer; I am talking with someone,” says David Weinberger, one of the contributors to The Cluetrain Manifesto, in a column in KMWorld (paper only). 

“At its best, the Web makes my computer as invisible as the handset of a telephone when I am having a spirited conversation with a friend.”  


Managing knowledge

Writing in a  Knowledge Management journal, Weinberger warns KM mavens that their tendency to force users to fill out advanced search forms limits the conversation, and makes exploration difficult.  

Instead of forcing users to conform to the computer’s model, Weinberger argues that true KM should help users “discern the metadata.”  He admits this idea is fuzzy, and may lead to gigantic messes.  

“But the history of the computer—from instrument of conformity to Web communications tool—has taught us that messiness has its own rewards.  In short, when in doubt, get messy.” 

Knowledge Management World, November/December 2001. 

 (Naturally, KM World refuses to display the article online, and Weinberger hasn’t posted it yet at his site at www.hyperorg.com, which you should visit right away, anyway, for a great view of the mess).




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