The Zoo of collaboration/ personal productivity tools

Jack explained blogs and linked to similar explanations, focussing “on the effect, rather than the technology”.
I had a similar task this week: I had to explain the plethora of underused (see #127) collaboration/ personal productivity tools to people from my institution. As for the blog, I described it as an in-between:

collab-mini(German version here)

It is an in-between of forums and text-processor reviewing in respect of substance, while the corresponding in-between in respect of outer appearance is the wiki:

  • While the wiki is document-centered like a text-processor but involves many people like a forum,
  • the blog is influenced by few people like the word document, and is based on incremental postings like the forum.

I have often seen the blog as a serendipituous blend between two things: between push and pull technology, between listservs/ mail and personal homepages/ web, and sometimes, between the monopolized mass-media 1-to-many relation, and the atomized web-link 1-to-1 relation, filtering the overload of the former and connecting the influence of the latter. This last in-between role appears in a new light since I listened to Stephen Downes’ talk where he offered great thoughts about groups vs. individuals, and the networks in between.

Jack addresses also the prejudice of the blog being a time sink, which in my experience is the toughest objection that is uttered by almost every non-blogger. It is difficult to argue that they could soon reduce email traffic by much more than the added blog traffic, by signing off from many mailing lists and enjoying filtered valuable information — as long as they don’t believe it they won’t test it, and often they are not even willing to learn a new tool since they don’t have time to learn how to save time.

Another problem is that they may find plenty of blogs that would affirm their prejudice by just forwarding incoming news without any valuing or annotating contribution. Recently I read a very polite label for such blogs: “service-oriented”. This is probably because giving away some gathered-hunted information is still seen as giving away some scarce food…

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