I might be tempted to refer to myself as Lazarus as the past three weeks I’ve been buried well under the weather. Super Bowl Sunday was spent in bed as the body temperature seemed to be overheating but I felt like the air conditioner was on full blast. Sweating under the sheets, I couldn’t stay warm. I had a stomach virus for about a week that worked its way into an upper respiratory cough. When I should be peaking for Way Too Cool, I’ve just been trying not to miss any work and to get through a run with minimal stops. Finally feeling somewhat back to a normal state.
For Valentine’s Weekend, we treated ourselves to a trip to Yosemite and the “Tentwanhee Hotel” in Curry Village. Nicole, Dylan and I had never been to the park in the winter and we had a great time. We joined a walking tour on Sunday morning offered by the Ansel Adams Gallery and Nicole learned some new tips and tricks on how to set some of the thousands of options on her camera. Dylan already knew which of the giant rocks was Half Dome and could point to it and declare “Alf Ome”. I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating: if you haven’t been to Yosemite then you need to plan a trip. You can see some of my pictures here.
One of my goals this year is to try new things and one of those new things is capturing different images. So the other night I borrowed Nicole’s camera and took some pictures at the Placer High School Basketball game. This was my second attempt at taking pictures at a Hillmen basketball game and I’m happy with some of the shots. I’ve posted them on the Auburn Journal website if you would like to take a look.
Now onto an area that I’m convinced needs to be overhauled: email. Maybe you are a little like me and a spend a lot of your day, and sometimes night, in emails. I find myself more and more frustrated with email and how we use it to share and exchange information. Sometimes a good part of my day is spent just trying to keep up with emails and answering questions.
As a direct method of communication, email does a fine job. However, sometimes that information should be shared in a more collaborative forum. Email is a very closed system in that information is only accessible to those on the email chain. Also, email can be very disruptive in that you need to read the email whether or not there is any value just to determine if the content is important. If the email is a keeper, then you might need to move it into a saved area so you can easily find it later.
So I’m searching for the ultimate collaboration tool. Google Wave recently launched and I looked at that the other night but was not won over. I’ve been using WordPress for over a year as a personal blogging tool but think it has benefits that can carry over into the work life.
Many times we are holding conversations in email that would be better suited for a more structured content management system. I mean we are inputting and outputting a lot of knowledge into our computers every day. Whatever type of work you are doing – it doesn’t have to be technology related – requires a certain level of knowledge. The more time you spend in that type of work, hopefully the more knowledge you are gaining. Where is this knowledge going? How are you sharing this knowledge? And even if you have nothing work related to write about, there’s all the other stuff in life that is worth capturing. I know I’ve lamented how much time we spend typing into computers and I’m not necessarily advocating more time but rather looking to replace one communication tool (email) with another.
I cringe at recommending blogging as the solution but I wonder if something like a blogging tool would be a better solution. A study published recently shows that blogging by teenagers and young adults has dropped in half in the last 3 years. People instead are using social networking sites to share information. But I think blogs still have many advantages over social networking sites. One of the biggest advantages is you can host your own blog using an engine like WordPress whereas most social networking sites have ultimate control of your information. Post a link to a blog on a social networking site and where do people comment? Do they comment on the link or post comments on the blog? You could have two different conversations going on, one on the link and another one on the blog. A major advantage to blogs is that they can be indexed and searched and can have categories and can be made private or public. Content can be easily added so the focus could be on the content and not the design and layout.
Would it work to have people search a blog for information before firing off a question in an email? The problem I find even with current online documentation now is that it is far easier for someone to send an email rather than search for an answer. Why do my own research if I can just ask you and you’ll tell me the answer? Sometimes I find the trick is waiting to send an immediate answer when that question hits the inbox and then about an hour later another message arrives in my inbox saying something like “Forget that last email from me. I figured it out.”
So I’m still looking for the right solution that can be used as a collaboration and knowledge sharing tool. Let me know your experience and what tools you are using.