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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Spending or Wasting Time on Web 2.0 Tools?

I just read a couple interesting posts: The Pursuit of Busyness - by Andrew McAfee and The Enterprise 2.0 Hawthorne Effect and Enterprise 2.0’s Productivity Perception Paradox by Joe McKendrick.

Andrew McAfee raises an interesting dilemma about the use of Web 2.0 tools (ex. Wikis, Social Bookmarking) in the Enterprise:
people who use the new tools heavily -- who post frequently to an internal blog, edit the corporate wiki a lot, or trade heavily in the internal prediction market -- will be perceived as not spending enough time on their 'real' jobs
This is almost the inverse of the concern that Nick Carr brought up soon after the initial E2.0 article came out -- that busy knowledge workers wouldn't have time for the new technologies.
It's something I've somewhat wondered about. Do people have enough time to use these tools? If so, does that mean that they are somehow not the people who are already "too busy" at their jobs? Are the only people who will use the tools exactly those people who the organization views as time wasters, tinkering about, etc. I think most of us can relate to that kind of concern.

Joe summarizes this concern wonderfully -
That is, won’t employees spending time on the Web checking out Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0-related tools and sites be perceived as not spending enough time at their “real” jobs?
If we turn this towards the world of learning and performance, I'm afraid that we may already be suspects in the pursuit of things that are not our "real jobs."

I wonder how hard it is for people to justify spending time on these new technologies, new ways of learning and collaborating?

I'd be curious to get thoughts on this?


Tony Hirst said...

I spend almost as much time feeling guilty about the time I spend on "evaluating" new web tools and approaches as I do playing with them... but I try to appease that guilt by:

a) seeking positive affirmations from others;-);

b) blogging about the stuff I find that I think might have legs;

c) writing blog posts that either act as a mini-review of several related tools/tips/technologies, OR build a demo (i.e. I try not just to pass on news, I try to add value);

d) personally FYI emailing particular items of interest to specific individuals when I think it will be directly useful to others.

e) appearing to be busy all the time (which is, err, true:-(;

f) evoking the values I believe my organisation has in pursuing innovation;

g) pretending that my attempts at keeping up and posting on the highlights means others don't have to spend the time I do drinking from the fire hose...

Tony Karrer said...

Tony - thanks for both the thoughts and the chuckles.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tony, it's me again, the newby of blogging. Still doing more reading than writing . . . but this begs me to say at the very least . . . if I don't spend more time on these tools and start fitting in, I could be, vice versa wasting my time at home trying to find a new job that may not view my experience here as useful and/or meaningful. Renee at Yugma.

Claudia Ceraso said...

It is indeed difficult to justify what we are doing. Unless people are involved in the use of these tools, they find it hard to clearly perceive the advantages.

It is quite messy to start to explain to the complete newbie also. When the ones who must hear an explanation are managers... well, it might get even harder.

The mindset barrier I usually encounter is a resistance to accept that education is a long term investment.

On top of it all, we are talking about innovations. Part of what we spend time with will have to be regarded as an experiment and, probably, discarded later. Time has not been lost. We learn from the experiment and get ahead. That's part of the nature of the media we work with.

Your post reminds me of something I wrote last month about why blogging matters -at least to a teacher of English like me.

Unknown said...

Very cool, here it´s another good example of what is web 2.0 and what we can do with it