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The strange death of the liberal intranet

I keep on seeing e-mails, they’re nearly always e-mails though one was a DM on a central Jive site, for a ‘space’. We need a space, can we have a space, we need some where…In all of these instances the desire is for a geography, a terrain, a sense of place. ‘My team needs somewhere to live’, they seem to say, can you make us a clearing in which we can build a site?

It reminds me somewhat of a vague memory of Martin Heidegger’s clearing in the forest where the density without needs an opening and thus an abundance of light. I think Heidegger may have been harping on about meaning. But then there was also the paths in the forest. Perhaps we call these streams, streams of activities.

And it’s these activities that are more important. Rarely do I see requests for an activity, ‘we want some activities’, ‘we want some action’, ‘we want to act’. These of course are the most important.

At the top of one of the 5 Jive sites I’m working on at the moment someone, the community manager no doubt though I haven’t checked who, has posted an announcement. This says simply: ‘This is not a document store’. This encapsulates entirely what is changing here.

There’s a shift, tectonic maybe, from working with a store of documents, to people engaging together with each other and these documents. Most people when they encounter these new forms don’t realise this, they want spaces, and sub spaces and even more subspaces. They then get so lost in the resultant labyrinth that no one bothers to find them, there is no activity.

If on the other hand, the focus is on the activity and not on the store, this simply does not happen. The need therefore is to start not with structure, architecture and taxonomy but with a structural folksonomy created by users’ actions. This of course marks the end of what to now has been known as the intranet.

The Strange Death of Liberal England,

George Dangerfield, 1935.