IBM have recently started to publicise the forthcoming 7.0.2 Notes/Domino point upgrade and emphasise the new features in terms of an out of the box blog template.Â Their blog template development team was strengthened earlier this year when they hired Steve Castledine (developer of the ProjectDX Domino blog template).
So here we go â€¦ we have an access controlled Domino database providing a blog on a Domino server which has a http stack running.Â Super, but who will use it?Â How will users use it?Â How will IT departments manage it?Â Who will see and read the blogs?Â Is Domino the right platform?
Who will use it?
Steve Richards proposes that in order for knowledge workers to become more productive they need to have a personal voice.Â So internally within your organisations and enterprises your key knowledge workers will have a voice.Â Everyone possible should have a blog (call it something else though as then youâ€™ll have a better chance of selling it internally).Â There should be strong, easily understandable guidelines which support freedom to air opinions in addition to fact.Â It will turn the authoring triangle on its head.Â Where at present there are few authors and information flows down with blogging there is a flatter structure with more information flow from peers and although top down information will still flow the proportion of it as a total will reduce.
The importance will be fostering a culture of authorship within your employees.Â This will be more difficult than deploying the technology.Â My personal experience with colleagues is that they view blogging sceptically, as a tool which has had highly publicised sackings, a tool tarnished by those publicised sackings.Â OK, so we start with a policy and framework which is simple to understand, fair, open to critical comments and posts and embrace the benefits that open authorship will bring.Â Lets face it many employees have so much information locked in emails which would be amazingly useful to collegues.Â So we need a personal voice.Â Our combined personal voices tooled with good tagging, the folksonomies those tags produce, and a good search engine combine to give the organisation an excellent source of information moving forwards.
Some organisationsÂ have taken this approach one step further as discussed here.Â The most interesting concept is the automatic linkage of information between different types of blogs:
People blogs (personal voice)
Project blogs (project voice)
Customer blogs (account team voice on a particular customer)
Focus blogs (area of expertise voice)
This linkage is powerful.Â Iâ€™d be interested to see how these links can be automated with Domino as I feel this will be a minimal addition to the templateâ€™s code and will be one of the areas where Domino Blogâ€™s could excel over alternative platforms.
HowÂ might we use Notes/Domino for Blogging? (publishing and reading)
I hope there will be the ability to post using a browser, the Notes client and standard blog post generation software (wBlogger etc).Â
So how we going to read these things?Â This is something that most corporates arenâ€™t addressing at the moment.Â It is also an area where most of the dedicated RSS Readerâ€™s have no offering for the Notes client.Â So one question I havenâ€™t had time to research is how in Notes Release 7 we will be able to subscribe to RSS feeds.Â I assume this will be a database rather than an extension to the client code (we shall wait and see but whatever it is needs to be slick or users wonâ€™t like it).
How will IT departments manage blogs?
Initially we wonâ€™t, initially it will be a hard sell!Â Getting the business to open the gates to allow broad authorship will be difficult in most organisations.Â Once open it will be dealing with the demand that may well become the major issue.Â I think this is a perfect opportunity for someone like HaDSL to sell a portion of their FiRM product.Â This could allow automation of blog deployment in order to remove the administration from IT support staff (obviously these functions would need to have capacity limitations).
Apart from physical management ofÂ deployment and decommissioning of retired blogs it is important that processes and procedures are in place to cope with disputes over content (legalities, flame wars etc).Â This really is going to be a crossover between executive management, human resources and to a lesser extent IT (if at all).
I touched earlier on capacity.Â It is important that and blogging infrastructure, which will become more important over time, has the necessary capacity management, monitoring and general operation reporting in place.Â Without this then 6 months into a new service and with no capacity remaining you wonâ€™t be the most popular architect on the planet!
Is Domino the right platform?
Now this is an interesting question and until we see the upgrade it will be difficult to say.Â BeingÂ more general it would really depend where the skillset of your IT organisation sits.Â If you arenâ€™t a Domino house now then this wonâ€™t, in my opinion, be a compelling reason to switch to Domino â€“ I will stand corrected if the new blogging template is better than anything else out there (Domino is a powerful application development platform so hopefully weâ€™ll all be pleasantly surprised by the blogs capabilities).Â If you are a Domino house then you will have a tougher decision.Â Do I run my blogs through Domino or do I use another platform.Â If you run your ntranet on Domino now then this is a no-brainer â€“ go for it.Â If you run only part of your intranet on Domino then you would have to take the time to analyse how the most suitable platform.
The main compelling arguments for using Domino to Blog
This is supposition at this stage but here are my guesses as to what will be the key drivers:
Sametime integration.Â Iâ€™d love to see sametime integration into blogs so that presence awareness is pervasive throughout posts, comments, blogrolls etc.Â The power that this will supply will be a key factor in potentially differentiating Domino as a blogging platform from other tools.
Extensibility.Â The ability with some application development knowledge to customise the any database template to suit your organisations needs is one area where Notes/Domino have always excelled â€“ this will I assume extend to the blog template.Â As discussed which the Earnst and Young example blogs can be linked and automatically cross linked.Â If this is possible in the Domino blog then it will be a differentiator.
Security.Â Domino has always had a strong security model.Â The only area where some attention will be required is whether the template and platform will conform to the present techniques for authenticating RSS readers to secure feeds.Â I know this is something that is getting the attention of the IBM developers.
To summarise, and common sense really, the technology issue of deploying blogs on a specific platform is about 10% of the problem.Â 40% of the problem is business processes and 50% is instilling adoption within the workforce.Â Whether Domino is the correct platform for blogging in your organisation will depend upon both your needs and your existing infrastructure.