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Blogs & wikis – friend or foe?
Wednesday, 20th June 2007
Tim Buckley Owen
Information professionals are moving briskly to exploit the opportunities that Web 2.0 has to offer. A survey from LexisNexis, released to coincide with the recent Special Libraries Association conference, reveals that 39% of infopros access blogs at least weekly, with 34% accessing wikis. (Details at http://www.lexisnexis.com/about/releases/0980.asp.)
Interestingly, podcasts haven't really taken off yet as far as infopros are concerned; only 16% access video podcasts and 15% audio podcasts. And although the survey revealed that some infopros were starting to create wiki-type databases, one activity that it doesn't seem to have covered is actually creating blogs.
There's evidence that corporate America is waking up fast to the competitive potential of encouraging blogging. A heftily priced Concept Report from emerging consumer technologies specialist Jupiter Research explains that, as blogs continue to gain popularity, banks are seeking to understand the impact of this phenomenon on their business strategy.
It's no snip at $750 - although this does include a half hour phone conversation with the analysts who wrote the report - dealing with questions such as which consumer segments read and publish blogs, and how banks can incorporate their use into their online marketing strategies. (Go to http://www.jup.com/bin/item.pl/research:concept/1205/id=99397/ if you want to order it.)
However corporate blogging is not without its risks. A survey by UK human resources specialist Croner - appropriately headed 'Bloggy Hell!' - reveals that 39% of employees have posted details in blogs that could be potentially sensitive or damaging about their place of work, their employer or a colleague. (See http://www.croner.co.uk/ and follow links for the details.)
'In sensitive roles employees may be asked to sign media and communications policies, which should be expanded to include blogging,' Croner suggests. 'In some industries where there is a high level of computer literacy and usage, having a corporate blog may be an appropriate way forward to tap into the bloggers' creative energy and enthusiasm.'
Amid its generalised warnings about the risks of corporate confidentiality being breached by blogging, Croner specifically mentions whistleblowing. It goes on to say that companies should have procedures in place to enable employees to make protected disclosures within their organisation.
However, if this isn't possible for whatever reason, it might be worth taking a look at Wikileaks (http://wikileaks.org). Described as an 'uncensorable version of Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis', it's primarily designed to liberate documents suppressed by governments. But it clearly has corporate whistleblowers in its sights as well.
If and when it finally goes live, the developers claim that 'Wikileaks will be the outlet for every government official, every bureaucrat, every corporate worker, who becomes privy to embarrassing information which the institution wants to hide but the public needs to know.'
By Tim Buckley Owen
Tim is an information skills trainer and writer on the information industry with over 40 years' experience in the profession. His career has encompassed information management, writing, editing, training, government policy advice and corporate media & marketing.
Besides writing for FreePint, Tim runs courses for training providers and private clients on enquiry handling, abstracting & summarising, information packaging & presentation and information management. The sixth edition of his classic handbook Successful Enquiry Answering Every Time is published by Facet Publishing. You can find details of Tim's training services at www.buckleyowen.com.
Tim can also be reached at email@example.com
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