The future of the intranet is something I’ve mused on in the past in terms of a intranet specific browser and also about the way that I think intranets and the .com of an enterprise are going to get all mashed up by this social stuff. This post muses on what the intranet might offer in terms of a central controlling point and a radical DIY at the edges. This is an almost Lukacsian concept of control and dissent that I’ve seen in some corporations – where maximum control at the centre, maximum dissent at the periphery can actually (at times) lead to a happy synergy.
The leitmotif of my thoughts is more mundane. Someone mentioned (who?) on Twitter that WordPress’ plugins are its Apple iTunes. I like this idea alot and it was all the more reinforced when I tracked back a ref today from Dion Hinchcliffe “Tracking the “DIY phenomenon Part 1: Widgets, badges, and gadgets“. If you think of it, both the iPhone (or I use, the iPod) and WordPress’ legion of widgets allow an almost limitless ability to customise based on a central defining core – the phone itself or WP application.
My thoughts developed on this to think of what it might be like if this model was moved to the intranet. We see shades of this in WordPress Multi User (WPMU), especially when combined with BuddyPress (a w.i.p http://cichlatopia.com/) or Elgg (completed http://drezbox.com/) Drupal (West London Web hasn’t built a social network in that yet!). But I think the most developed vision of this is seen in Jive SBS, a platform I’ve been doing some very developed work on in a global
intranet social network pilot rollout that already spans over 50 countries and many thousands of users.
What the Jive model could offer more traditional intranet applications is the way that it offers 2 layers of modularity, at the Group/Space/Community level and at the individual level. It’s that individual level that potentially the most fertile possibilities lie. A structured and centrally administered regime could coexist with a high level of local customisation.
And this is what the localisation looks like in our Jive SBS – this could be a model for the intranet:
Each of the prefigured Jive widgets shown here could be replaced by some configured for a specific intranet widgets type use. And of course, the structure could be pre-loaded with widgets that are either fully or partly locked to ensure that the most important elements are in place . I wish to return to this in more depth and to cohere some of the ideas together once we’ve upgraded to Jive SBS 4.0. An area that interests me here is how the middle layer of customisable configuration seen in Jive (see for example Gia Lyons’ Jive SBS Structure Best Practices, Part 3) and how the future intranet might support organic and structured spaces and reblends of taxonomy / folksonomy