I'd have to say that threaded discussions are proving to be super valuable. These are simple threads (like this one) that allow you to post a question or a piece of information and then capture the ensuing conversation. It is a less formal approach than blogging and more flexible than wikis for capturing the dialog that ensues. We have seen that these discussions are a great way to get people across a company sharing thoughts around things like product ideas, sales strategies, training programs, customer stories -- or the always popular "best places to eat lunch" .
In my experience rank and file users hate threaded discussion forums as the lived for years before blogs and wikis. They live for way too long and the embedded threading upon embedded threading in most of them lead to long chains of rambling side discussions that don't answer the original question. The simpler ones (that have mechanisms to keep the conversation on topic) seem to work much better.
Hey Spencer - what have you seen that works more effectively for informal discussions?
Well, when we answered that question for ourselves about a year ago, it led us right to Clearspace ;-)
If you look for the article "Why We Chose Clearspace" in my blog (chucksblog.typepad.com/a_journey_in_social_media) there's a long list of things we looked at.
A year later, there's only a few things we really want to have, but can't quite get yet.
- It'd be great to have a hi-def interface into the email world. Jive is offering a plugin that does a few things, but comes up short in a few critical areas, and I'm loathe to code my own.
- I'm going to need to start thinking about mobile users -- and soon!
- integration with our enterprise content management environment (Documentum)
- structured wikis for advanced document collaboration.
Other than that, we were very happy with our choice, and remain so to this day.
I have a question for you around mobile. I've started having conversations with a lot of vendors/shops out there who provide mobile apps both on the iPhone and on RIM (Blackberry). As you can imagine they really run the spetrum in terms of how they approach solutions. I'm curious from your point of view (and anyone else reading this who is interested in mobile) what the most important things you would want to be able to do on a mobile Clearspace app? I want Jive to resist the temptation to simply create a big screen interface on a tiny screen. Any feedback or thoughts would be really helpful.
I like threaded discussions. They are a very good form of collaboration and I personally prefer the "threaded" view over the flat as it is significantly easier to track conversations and replies (especially the style that Clearspace has enabled threads to appear).
There are some other tools I would have to say are forms of "discussions" that are very, very intriguing popping up:
Are two very focused, yet interesting sites. As a matter of fact the other day I googled "What is the meaning of the lyrics to Viva La Vida?" and the first record in the returned result went here:
I found this fascinating and started asking other ridiculous questions. It is fascinating to be able to choose an answer as "best" and see the other answers. I find it all interesting that they added elements from other key Web 2.0 tools such as blogging comments on each answer and question.
One of the most useful tools in social software behind the firewall, particularly in a geographically-dispersed and/or reasonably large organisation, is profiles ... being able to find people in the company who have the ability to fix a problem/pass on some information, or just to improve sociability among employees, is a huge thing.
Sorry for the delayed reposnes, Dan. I've been away on holiday.
Yes, I have seen a couple of models that seem to be very effective for encouraging informal discussion (othan than the free consumer social network options like Ning):
The first is the SiteLife suite from Pluck. This seems to be a great solution for customer social networks and marketing purposes.
The second is a product from Sabre called Cubeless, which is for internal coroprate social networking. It is incredibly intuitive and user friendly and they seem to have built in mechanisms that make infomation actionable, which seems to make sense in a corporate deployment. This seems to be a model that would be attractive to a diverse set of employees regardless of how "tech-savvy" they are.