Intranets: 1995 vs 2008

Apologies for not writing this for a while, I spent a few weeks on hoiday in Ardersier near Inverness.

As a short, I’m back posting I think I’ll go back to the beginning of intranets. It would seem that “intranets” as a term first starts to be used around 1995, in an article by Steven Lawton.

That 1995 article is a fascinating snapshot of how people thought about information, the people being interviewed talk about making things available – rather than allowing everybody to make things available to each other. The 1995 intranet has a gatekeeper publishing model.

I’ve had a few discussions lately that make me think that this concept is still there. intranets are things other people go away and do. That won’t be true for much longer. Actually the thing that is puzzling me is why it is still partly true.

It’s not because people don’t want to take part – nor that companies don’t trust their people, but that we haven’t worked out how to get the best out of a decentralised model, that loose, ‘free for all’ publishing is still quite a poor experience for consumers of that knowledge.

The 1995 intranets were based on 1995 internet, within a few years we learned that there were differences, that we needed to think about governance and user satisfaction quite differently and do different things, the 2008 intranet is now  trying to use models from the 2004-8 internet of social media, user generated content and to do it successfully we need to learn again how that works – but remember 1995, it isn’t a lift and shift.

Anyway, just a quick thought to share, I will get back into the swing of this blog and write something more interesting soon – I must do a quiz too.

For pop music link here is something from 1995..

Hmm, My favourite tune from 1995 was Long Fin Killie’s, ‘Head of Dead Surfers’ but its not on You Tube (though their fine – but not as good – ‘Hollywood Gem‘ is) I also loved Spare Snare‘s ‘Bugs’ but the only You Tube version is a camera phone recording, so here’s Spare Snare doing something else.


2 Responses to Intranets: 1995 vs 2008

  1. I think the tension between the two models existed even in 1995 (or thereabouts). Remember the attempts in BT to shut down the ‘unofficial intranet’ when was created? On one side were the corporate relations people, the top-down publishing model, the ban on links outside of the controlled platform and the ‘sorrying’ (automatic deletion) of all pages after two years. On the other, people running servers on scrounged hardware, ‘keep the unofficial intranet’ page badges, the denizens of bt.misc, and (for a while at least) most of the useful content.

  2. sandyblair says:

    Oooh great point Kerry, in several ways.

    The ‘tidying up’ of the intranet in the late 90s seems to have been a feature of many companies’ intranet. They all did it for the same reason too, there was too much abandoned and poorly contected stuff.

    In the internet abandoned sites isn’t an issue, there was enough good stuff bubbling to the surface, but that is a quite wasteful process (wasteful of a plentiful resource admittedly) and that mechanism wasn’t kicking in on the intranet.

    Although it was an imposition to many sites to ‘go professional’ (and I’m poacher turned gamekeeper here), the end result was that a lot of un-maintained, badly organised sites were replaced by better sites.

    I’m not suggesting another round of overly prescriptive governance, but that’s not the same as a free for all. I’m still not clear where the balance is between governance that ensures good, reliable content and one that doesn’t stifle innovation.

    Neither am I saying that the governence needs to be top down there are processes that are inbuilt into social media / UGC publishing – however how close it is to the behaviour we see on the internet, the wikignomes etc described in is something that is still in doubt.

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