There seems to be a consensus that ‘weblog’ and ‘blog’ are ugly terms. Many worry that this ugliness adds an element of additional challenge to realizing the value of weblogs within organizations. Recently there’s been some effort to coin more appealing terms.
One of the central features of knowledge based organizations is that individual knowledge workers are the people in the best position to evaluate and design their work. This is a radical departure from industrial-logic organizations where the coordinated design and definition of tasks and jobs is the norm.
Part of the generally disappointing results from centralized efforts at knowledge management follow from this disconnect between organizational logics. Shoshanna Zuboff and her husband James Maxmin have recently published a new book that may shed light on this. It’s titled The Support Economy: Why Corporations are Failing Individuals and the Next Episode of Capitalism. I say may because I am only about a third of the way through it. What Zuboff and Maxmin argue is that the logic of managerial capitalism has run its course and needs to be replaced. Managerial capitalism represents the organizational and economic logic and norms that worked to create mass markets to match up with the production capacity of mass production.It essentially drove much of the economic growth of the 20th century.
From a variety of perspectives, the logic of the emerging knowledge economy is more distributed and decentralized. The work itself requires local perspective and initiative.
What I find interesting is the emerging alignment between several distinct threads. One is this decentralized logic of knowledge based organizaions. The second is the strength of intellectual capital arguments such as the end-to end argument, Dan Isenberg’s notion of stupid networks, and Doc Searls and Dave Weinberger’s most recent piece on the a world of ends. Finally, in this context, we have the application of weblogs inside organizations as a tool to promote knowledge sharing. Here, this alignment of weblogs with these parallel trends suggests that weblogs are a technology well matched to the problem.
Given the match between weblogs and this broader trend toward decentralized and distributed solutions, the lameness of ‘blog’ as a term might actually be one of its primary strengths. It reflects that weblogs are tools coming into organizations from the grassroots, not something imposed from a central source. That may be more important than usual for organizational innovations when we’re talking about an innovation that is in sync with the demands of knowledge economy organizations.