Treat concepts imported from the external web with caution

We all need to be careful thinking that emergent Internet behaviour will also work within an organisation. We should, of course, examine such emergent behaviour and use it where we can, but it’s important to dig deeper and try to spot if the different environment means that different rules apply.

I’ve mentioned before that I think wiki’s need ‘managed’ and that the unforced organic growth seen on Internet wikis is problematic, it’s just too wasteful if the contributor resource is limited. This seems to tie in nicely with JPs pearl analogy. Sure, natural pearls are better than cultured ones, but cultured ones are better than fake pearls or no pearls at all. And natural pearls are rare.

Another Internet concept in web design to be careful about is stickiness.

Stickiness really means trying to manipulate a user to stay on a particular site. When done crudely it means sites didn’t link to other sites, or ‘windowed’ other site’s content. It is a very bad idea, and it’s thankfully less common than it used to be. If your site doesn’t have what someone was looking for the best thing to do is to link to something that does, you get the props for directing people to the info they want.

We’ve come a long way from crude ‘pop up’ tricks, but there is still a desire for stickiness – the motivation for a site provider is that you get the ad revenue and the ‘eyeballs’. Sites like facebook and myspace are quite sticky, but sites like YouTube have learned a better way, allowing embedded content rather than forcing you to go to you tube and navigate down.

On an intranet, the desire to be sticky needs to be resisted, the desire is still there, departments want the credit for the content they provide, and can be slow to add in features equivalent to You Tube embedding. Ask people not to use ‘open new window’ links (it’s stupid in the days of tabbed browsers anyway) never use javascript links to control the users browser, encourage cross divisional linking, and encourage RSS or data feeds for applications. I know there is still a lot to be done on the usability of applications, but the next wave of collaboration activity needs to dealt with in applications too. Stickiness is the enemy of collaboration.

My pop music choice for illustrating this is one of my all time favourite tunes. It’s a very curious song. One of the last songs produced by the maverick producer Joe Meek it has a haunting tone, the ‘neediness’ in the voice is nearly pathetic (just like over controlling stickiness in a web site!), the instrumentation is heavily treated, like its being heard from some ghostly dancehall, and the vocal style – is that a lisp of poorly fitting dentures?- adds to its charm. 

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