Mark Masterton left a great comment on my post about contribution and discovery. It’s prompted me to think some more about contribution engines.
As an example, I see FriendFeed as a contribution engine. It collates and collects all of your social interactions from multiple social channels, and unifies them into a central stream that clearly shows what you have been doing on the various different colored social highways that make up the internet. This means that I don’t have to sign up to a zillion different services to find out what my friends are doing.
But what about your workplace? Most of the work that’s going on in those channels isn’t happening in an existing RSS-enabled application in the cloud. And, despite how much Google and Amazon nag us, a lot of that content is going to stay behind the firewall. It’s not discoverable. It’s not sharable, or taggable.
By a contribution engine, I mean a tool designed to find the Dark Matter. There is still a lot of content that is not visible — not REST exposed. A lot of this content isn’t taggable because it’s the byproduct of personal communication in direct channels — like email — and it’s contained in business artifacts like documents and reports that people want to retain inside the organization. If we want to connect the enterprise, we can’t ignore this fact. We can’t just plonk a giant server in the middle of the organization and say, “Do all your work in there starting… now!”
In any organization, content is all over the place. Some is on share drives, some is in sharepoint, some is in the ERP systems, and lots of it is lying around on people’s personal computers. Is it reasonable to move all of this into the cloud? Why not just publish it from where it sits?