"Control Doesn't Scale"

February 21, 2008 · · Posted by Jordan Frank

David Weinberger has an incredible knack for putting information management issues into perspective, and always does so with just the right amount of humor and sarcasm (something I generally aim to achieve - but I imagine I fall short of a perfect Weinberger).

ImageHe's done it again in a speech about "The Information Mess and Why You Should Love it." Sandy Kemsley blogged her notes on the speech. She says:

He spoke about the power of digital disorder, and how we need to unlearn what we think that we know about the best ways to organize information.

He looked at how many projects, typically physical projects, require a much greater degree of control as they increase in size, but contrasts that with the web, which has growth only because of the lack of control. Control doesn’t scale.

Controlled information systems don't scale, but the web does. When it comes to "unstructured information" this is undoubtedly the case. (I put quotes around "unstructured information" because I mean to convey I don't believe in the term - all information has structure, especially written information which has LOADS of structure but generally doesn't grow as well as you would like on folder trees)

"Enterprise 1.0" approaches sought to consolidate and centralize information onto singular ECM or DM systems with one search box and what became lots of "need to know" (vs. "can know") silos (in the form of specifically permissioned files or collaborative workspaces) within the big centralized system.

"Enterprise 2.0" is not just about people posting pages, editing pages, and tagging, its about, as Greg Lloyd wrote in 2005, making your business work like the web. Continuing that thread with another entry from Greg, its also about Letting Hypertext out of its Box and, from my perspective, recognizing when Information Silos are a Problem.

Putting the Enterprise in Wiki and Blog Software requires both deploying tools that allow your users to build an intranet out of pages and links as well as creating an IT architecture mandate to allow for the digital disorder which Weinberger argues is the ultimate tool in creating order at scale.

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