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Three Collaboration Tools Everyone Should Know

Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, Flickr, IM: do these sound like foreign words? In the face of new social media and collaboration, getting in touch over the Internet has never been more complicated. With so many of these whiz-bang technologies out there, it can be especially frustrating to figure out which ones are worth learning about and which ones are not. That is why I have identified and simplified the following three technologies that everyone should know.

Micro-Blogging (i.e. Twitter)
Micro-blogging is an offshoot of traditional “blogging,” a form of journaling on the Internet. Typically, micro-bloggers want to answer the following: what I am thinking/doing or what is happening around me. It focuses on providing a brief status update in a very concise, focused sound byte of information. For example, twitter only allows 140 characters per “tweet,” which often creates interesting abbreviations and creative uses of the English language. These “micro-blogs” are searchable and either made available to the world or more privately to a specific group or network. This capability provides instant situational awareness from anywhere, allowing anyone to become an “instant journalist” wherever anything (important or not) is happening.

Social Networking (i.e. Facebook)
A Social Networking Service allows people to connect, interact and share information online faster than ever before while constantly pushing the envelop in new ways to communicate with each other. Many people find this a fun and enjoyable way to keep up with family, friends from the present/past, play games, and discover new connections with like-minded groups and individuals.

A typical controversy is the use of Social Networking in the workplace, but the strength of these services can help increase employee relationships and the informal social aspects of a shared office space. This is a valuable capability in supporting a remote and distant workforce as trends such as deployment and telework can bring about. Using social networking is a great way to connect with colleagues, meet new people, and promote sharing and learning across organizational boundaries.

Wikis (i.e. Wikipedia)
A Wiki is a collaborative website where people can read, contribute, and modify the content as they see fit. Groups or communities can also form around the content and develop project pages where they develop their ideas, share documents and other media. Wikipedia is known as, “The free online encyclopedia anyone can edit” and is the best known and widely proliferated use of this technology. There are built in check and balances to allow free use while providing tools to help preserve the integrity of what is written such as allowing people to “watch” a page and receive emails when changes are made. Pages can also be locked down to prevent changes, where discussion pages are used to vet modifications out in the open first.

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James King

Brock…Thinking further on this, if I had to add a tool, I would pick RSS. I think RSS can help those of us who are inundated with information intelligently sort through a variety of sources in one location (RSS Reader). Part of the solution for Gov workers is to deploy an RSS “notifier” (like the Email notifier popup that Outlook has) that can monitor your feeds, and pop up a cue that says “Check your RSS reader for…”

We currently have RSS readers native to Mozilla and IE, but you have to actually remember to go check them, or subscribe to assorted pages via an Email notification (which is against my philosophy of “Email dieting.”

Great article by the way!

Col K