Borders, Spaces, and Places
One big problem for collaboration has been too many borders - technical or cultural - creating silos of information for no good reason - and many bad ones.
For example - if you work for a law firm there's a reasonable - and legal - expectation that only the client and members of the firm have access to the collaborative space reserved for work with each specific client.
This "hub and spoke" collaboration pattern is common for business.
Similarly, most businesses work with a network of external suppliers, resellers, technology or business partners and external service providers - including your law firm, accountants, PR firm and others.
Your business may also have good reason to set up spaces for private collaboration that's limited to certain groups (e.
If your Enterprise 2.
The point is that by being able to listen deeply and participate on the edge, you can pick up things before anybody else picks them up, and you can use that to accelerate your own capability building.
This implies that it is not just corporate training that is important but rather rich participation with partners who are at the edge as well. One of the questions we ask ourselves is, how do you learn as much from a partner as you learn from creating something yourself. This puts a new spin on why distributed collaboration around the world might be critical in creating this sustainable edge. - John Seely Brown Can Your Firm Develop a Sustainable Edge? Knowledge@Wharton
In his Fast Forward 08 Keynote What's Most Important for Success with Enterprise 2.0? Prof Andrew McAfee said that borders are needed in order to use Enterprise 2.
I agree and suggest adding a follow-on principal: "Borders should seem transparent to those with permission to cross them.
For Traction TeamPage this means:
- All content and relevant context are indexed for search, but the search engine delivers the subset of results that the person making the request can read.
- Tag clouds and drill-down navigation present the tags and drill-down paths derived from what that person can read.
- Traction's Dashboard views roll-up content from many spaces based on tag, content or other criteria defined by Section widgets, and automatically shows the subset of content which that person can read.
- RSS feeds, email, IM notifications and cross-reference lists automatically reflect the content and cross references which that person can read.
For example, if you're an employee at the center of a "hub and spoke" collaboration pattern, when you navigate, search or link information, the borders separating different customer spaces and internal spaces you can read become transparent for collaboration.
You can still use the names of spaces created for particular customers to focus your attention on a particular issue or collection of content, but you effectively see one big wiki /
If a customer logs in to your TeamPage server, they see only the rolled-up content, search results, tags, feeds, and space names that they have permission to read.
Traction TeamPage even extends commenting and inline discussion to work transparently across borders.
Let's say a customer posts a page of product suggestions in their own space (Traction calls this a project space).
Let's say Sue is an engineer working on a related project.
The internal engineering discussion is then anchored to the third paragraph of the customer's original suggestion page, but the thread is invisible to all but internal team members who have permission to read the engineering project.
Six months later, Alan in Marketing is asked why particular approach was chosen in designing the new feature.
This multiple space model is much more than just an administrative convenience that makes it easy to deploy one TeamPage server for different groups within an enterprise.
It starts down a road to creating places which groups use for agreed social purposes - just like the rooms and spaces in a well designed building make it easy to hold conversations in different contexts without a lot of conscious thought.
Just like a good architect knows how the to use the affordances and relationships of physical spaces to help cue behavior, architects of social software should aim to use software affordances to make socializing in the neighborhood, workplace, and commons as natural as possible.
"A conference hall and a theatre share many similar spatial features (such as lighting and orientation); and yet we rarely sing or dance when presenting conference papers, and to do so would be regarded as at least slightly odd (or would need to be explained).
With the TeamPage model, if you want to hold a conversation with a specific customer, post it to that customers private collaboration space.
See Re-Place-ing Space: The Roles of Place and Space in Collaborative Systems by Steve Harrison (Xerox PARC) and Paul Dourish (EuroPARC) for interesting thoughts on where this could lead.
See Michael Sampson's Currents: "TeamPage - the One System to Rule It All" for an independent expert's opinion of TeamPage's capabilities for cross-workspace collaboration.