John commented on my post, Why History Is Relevant To The Future Of Collaboration, which itself was a call-out reference from Patti Anklam that I caught on Twitter re: The Camelot of collaboration: The case of VAX Notes - Inside Knowledge. More on "Understanding collaborative learning in networked organizations" in the article below - please follow the citation link.
History shows that we've been tackling these challenges for some time...
Knowledge Ability Paper: Web 0.0 Social Media
Below is a paper that I wrote in 1991 which, amongst other things, gives a picture of enterprise-wide collaboration and knowledge sharing in Digital Equipment Corporation.
My reason for resurrecting this paper is to show that Digital (in 1991 the second-largest computer company) had, fifteen years ago, a culture and thriving practice of knowledge sharing based on an early collaboration tool, the VAX Notes discussion forum system (called then a computer conferencing system).
Today forward-thinking individuals and organisations are getting excited about Web 2.0 social media (notably blogs and wikis). I want to point out that there was a generation of Web 0.0 social media and a body of knowledge about what made them successful which remains relevant. Only the tools have changed: the people factors haven't. (By 'Web 0.0' I mean that there wasn't any web in 1991.)
In the paper I describe Digital's use of discussion forums for enterprise-wide knowlege-sharing, and I spend some space analysing the particular culture that supported that. I still believe this insider's view is relevant to enterprises today who want to achieve a knowledge sharing, collaborative culture.
I didn't know it at the time, but that culture in Digital was to change. When in 1992 the President and founder, Ken Olsen, resigned and large-scale programme of lay-offs (called 'right-sizing') started, I saw the use of these discussion forums rapidly decrease. After 1993 I can't comment, as I had been right-sized myself. The parts of Digital that hadn't been right-sized were acquired by Compaq in 1998, which then merged with Hewlett-Packard in 2001.
Because the paper is written in an educational context, it discusses at the beginning the fit between discussion forums and collaborative learning (which a year later I christened 'networked learning'). If readers want to skip this earlier material, Section 5 is where the description of Digital's conferencing and knowledge sharing begins.
In this paper I called the process supported by the VAX Notes system 'computer conferencing' which was the term in use then. Today that functionality is provided by discussion forums, bulletin boards, message boards, and (publicly) internet newsgroups.