Clarity Amid the Hype

February 26, 2009 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

Image Mike Gotta posted Enterprise Twitter: Clarity Amid The Hype analyzing - and generally agreeing with - points raised by Adina Levin (Socialtext) in her excellent post What's Different about Enterprise Twitter? I agree with Mike's analysis and Adina's thoughtful points (read them both) but want to focus on Mike's conclusion:

[like fragmented email conversations] ... Twitter-like systems are also difficult to follow - the tools so far do not do a great job of isolating conversation threads, manage/filter messages over time, etc. On top of this - do we really think that companies will have wide-open conversation spaces without applying permission models that limit access rights based on a variety of business reasons? I don't disagree with the concept of transparency - but you have to consider policies related to role, separation of duties, security, confidentiality, intellectual property, compliance and so on. There are very good reasons to have bigger walled gardens within enterprise organizations - and some organizations will be much more public than others - but we do get back to addressing barriers encountered by other messaging tools.

BTW - many (if not all) of these concerns and issues apply equally to "activity streams". The need for activity streams to support permission models, and comply with logging/audit/compliance/discovery requirements should be pretty clear. For vendors offering "Twitter for the Enterprise" or "Activity Streams" - making sure you support security (permission/access controls), identity, and records management requirements has no down side. - Mike Gotta

The concept of transparency and "borders that seem appropriate to users" (to borrow Andrew McAfee's phrase) are closely related to people's natural expectations for shaded degrees of privacy based on the context of the conversation or activity - and apply to blog posts, wiki pages, comments, rss feeds, and search results as well as enterprise "tweets". As Facebook found last week, it's difficult to come up with a simple explanation of privacy rules that: 1) meet natural expectations; 2) can be accurately described in legal prose; 3) correspond to promises that your software system actually implements.

I won't claim that Traction TeamPage's security model "has no downside", but we've worked pretty diligently with some of the most demanding - and innovative - customers in the world. Our objective has been to make it straightforward to meet natural privacy and security expectations with a model that's easy to use - even if it's not easy to implement.

For an enthusiastic ("I think that rocks") reaction from collaboration and Microsoft Sharepoint expert Michael Sampson, see his Traction TeamPage: The One System to Rule It All posted Feb 23, 2009. Note that the same example Michael uses to show how it's possible to interleave, link or tag more private discussions on any paragraph in a wiki page applies to all TeamPage personal or group blog posts, LiveBlog "tweets" or comments. It's easy to understand - but I don't think you'll find any other Enterprise 2.0 product which lives up to these promises.

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