Jim McGee provided an interesting post on the FAST Forward blog, The problem of emergence. Jim quotes McAfee, “… the technologists of Enterprise 2.0 are trying hard not to impose on users any preconceived notions about how work should proceed or how output should be categorized or structured. Instead, they’re building tools that let these aspects of knowledge work emerge.”
In favor of emergence, which can be nmessy, Jim points out that conventionally structured approaches have generally failed when tackling knowledge intensive problems. He adds the perceived success of emergent approaches behind current Web 2.0 success stories such as flickr, facebook, and technorati. Then he cautions that transplanting those experiences inside the boundaries of the organization is no simple task.
One of the areas where the structured versus emergence plays out is in the use of top down taxonomies versus tagging. Jim provides some good advice and a middle ground.
“Appropriate scaffolding and careful seeding of content will prove more useful. A complete taxonomy, for example, may overwhelm a small set of potential early adopters. On the other hand, an empty tagging system will prove too much of a blank slate for users more accustomed to the structures of conventional systems. Providing a sample of suggested tags or categories coupled with some live content can point users in the right direction.”
This is similar to advice on other enterprise tools. Most experienced wiki users say start with some structure to provide guidance. Thanks, Jim.