No, it isn't done yet

The Death of Documents and the End of Doneness. I just stumbled across this article by [David Weinberger] from 1998 on “The Death of Documents and the End of Doneness”. This is how the article ends:

The cards are stacked against documents. We are seeing a massive cultural shift away from the concept of done-ness. The Web allows for constant process and enables open-ended groups of people to be invited into the process. Things on the Web are never done, and the damn “under construction” sign is implicit at every site. Why should anything be declared “done” when that means taking responsibility and arbitrarily picking a place to freeze a process in a context that is always always always changing?

Documents are things that are done. That is why the Web will kill them.

Its a great article and a penetrating insight into how the web is changing and will continue to change business life! [Gurteen Knowledge-Log]

The notion of doneness is worth thinking about. I suspect one of the organizational barriers to k-logs, weblogs, business journals, or whatever we end up calling them is this assault on the concept of done. Think of how many review processes and sign off workflows end up being barriers to moving forward on intranets and knowledge management initiative.

My positions on most topics is constantly evolving (hopefully in the direction of more sophistication). Weblogs provide a natural tool for capturing and reflecting that evolution. Once you get comfortable with that notion of flux, you also become more at ease with putting half of three-quarter baked ideas ought there to be seen and reacted to. It’s a terribly artificial notion that you or an organization must somehow come to a concrete, fixed-for-all-time, conclusion before you can put it out there.

Warren McFarlan used to tell a story about the risks of publishing as an academic. He claimed that publishing your ideas always meant that there was a permanent record of your bad ideas. But that is only true if you try to separate ideas from their context. For some aspects of science, I suppose you can strive for truths that are likely to last across many times and place. For most of the knowledge that I worry about, however, context is everything. Where you stand depends on where you sit. The more readily we not only acknowledge it but adapt our tools to reflect that the better off we will be. Giving up on the idea of doneness is a pretty good step in the right direction.