We’ve just upgraded the work network, which has gone very smoothly, with one jarring exception. Whenever i launch the Internet Explorer now, it takes me to the Corporate homepage.
I wouldn’t mind, except that i don’t want to visit the corporate homepage. I want to start with Google as my homepage, but i can’t.
Google is useful, it lets me search for what i what. It offers the path of least resistance to knowledge. The corporate homepage does not. It’s rubbish. It tells me the share price and gives me some press releases. I don’t care about the share price or press releases. If i did, i’d Google it.
I’m a mature consumer of media. I have a TV, and iPad and a mobile phone. If i want to know share prices, i can think of half a dozen ways of finding out without breaking a sweat.
When i turn on my television, it doesn’t take me to the Sony homepage, where Sony tell me what i should watch. It just goes back to whatever channel i was watching previously. This is good, this is what i want. There was a time when technology drove online behaviours, but now it should just facilitate them. Last week, on the ski slopes, someone wanted to know what a brisket was. We googled it, from the iPhone. Technology enabling the flow of knowledge. When i open Internet Explorer, i’m opening the doorway to knowledge, to information, i do no need a guide, or if i want a guide, i want it to be the best imaginable guide.
The command and control model of consumption is dead. Sure, ten years ago having an intranet was cool. It was the place to turn to for information. It was (meant to be) the font of relevant knowledge. No longer. If you want people to turn to a particular site for information, there is just one way to do this effectively: make it incredibly good. Our organisation is a Learning business. If you want people to turn to your intranet, make it the most amazing learning site there is. Make it so magnetic that there is nowhere else that i want to go. Make it so that this is the first place that i turn to for inspiration, for motivation, to engage in debate, share views, look at what is happening in the market, understand new technologies, create new contacts, test ideas.
Telling me to watch something is the best way of getting me to disengage. Make it so magnetic that i want to participate.
A page of text is not going to motivate me. Not unless it’s really really good text. There are a hundred ways to create formidable community driven sites, sites that are engaging, collaborative spaces where knowledge is shared, used, made relevant. the intranet is a formal space, in a world where the informal is emerging as dominant. Social media and one touch publishing and micro blogging are killing the old model of publication. I don’t even buy a paper anymore, because it’s too out of date.
‘Go to your room’ is the redundant instruction to teenagers. My ‘room’ is web enabled now. It’s no longer punishment, it’s the gateway to engagement. I don’t want restrictions, i want freedoms.
If people want access to information, let them have it. If you want them to know something, make it relevant, make it interesting. As teachers and trainers, we are competing for time; what we have to say has to be more relevant, better written and more engaging than the competition.
And if you want to know what a brisket is, google it. You won’t find it on the intranet. You’re old enough to do this yourself now.