There’s value in the (intranet) mess

I like this David Weinberger ( here’s another interview with him) analysis of corporate intranets:

So the intranet at your organization is outdated—far behind that of the actual Internet. It’s marked by bad navigation. There are aging documents and old newsletter articles that belong in an archive. Maybe there’s a search engine, but if so that search engine only looks for materials in one department—not companywide.

Wading through your intranet is not only time consuming, it’s demoralizing. It’s a time waster, and a waste of the knowledge employees have accrued. This needn’t be the case.

While it’s obvious that most companies don’t really leverage the potentials of their intranets, I want to make it really clear that approaching this from a “just add more content and help people digest that information” perspective is just a little bit too tempting and won’t take you far. “Embrace the chaos wherever you are” is no solution in itself – we need to focus on the emergence of structures, and we need to figure out how the pieces fit together.

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