These high-riding web2 days

my ride

go ahead - take the high ride

But I digress…

Just about nothing I have ever accomplished in my near-two-decades of work in software technology in the Bay Area has been simultaneously as complicated — or as simple — as implementing a wiki community. I created, evangelized, and administered an internal innovation community where I work, and for over a year it has exhibited tremendous growth and has been a success all around. Nothing could be easier than concocting the right theme and use cases, creating a cool set of templates, applying an agile and sociable design, and harnessing the built-in wiki features that surface fresh content dynamically. Seeding content and shepherding people unfamiliar with the “wysiwig” or markup interface into the world of working in wiki has likewise been fun and dare-I-say carefree. Watching content bubble in and funnel and collect and percolate, all-the-while cross-linking and spreading connections across the organization, has been joy.

However, nothing was a harder decision than to implement a wiki, not to mention choose the “right” platform, and there is a constant education process on “why use a wiki in the first place” (once you get beyond “what the heck’s a wiki?”). Beyond that, there’s something more mysterious — particularly in the large enterprise. Something that’s still hard for me to grasp — something ethereal — that makes it hardest of all. I’m not exactly sure, but I think it has something to do with having shots of tequila as a teenager.

I have had many surprisingly heart-to-heart conversations with colleagues about “why wiki” and “why share all this stuff?” and “why does it work?”, but one of the most enduring memories is a talk about Facebook in which my pal tossed around the old “you have to watch what you say on these things — or your employers will find it and it will come back to haunt you” sentiment. At last impatient with that tired old standby, my response surprised even me. Maybe the key, I said, isn’t learning how to censor ourselves. On the contrary — maybe the key is something more like coming to the realization that a whole lot of us did shots of tequila as a teenager; that many of us are imperfect; and furthermore that instead of being a liability, these are the things that really matter. In the end, I further pontificated, perhaps the profoundest shift of “Web 2.0” is in fact just that: a broader acceptance of all of our humanness in the face of not being able to hide it anymore.

Whoops. I was going to write a post about something entirely (but not quite) different (late-in-coming, the May edition of Governing featured an article on wikis called Working in Wiki). Looks like that will have to wait just a bit longer. I guess this one needed to come out and stay out.

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