First, a note or two on what an enterprise blog (short for "web tog") is not. It is not your teenage daughter's journal of her adventures at the take last summer. Nor is it one of those passionate political commentaries--right or left--that came to prominence this election cycle. It is an ongoing web-based exchange of the information, ideas, and documents that continually shape and reshape an enterprise's knowledge capital. Still less than a decade old, blogs first look off as dating services and sites of personal expression. Then they were adopted by major news media to make their print or electronic content accessible over the internet--supplemented by additional research and ample opinion to give them a lively kick. Now commercial enterprises are discovering the benefits of blogging as a knowledge-management tool.
Blogs share the quintessential nature of art internet-based systems: Any authorized member of the enterprise can access them and contribute to them. Subsequently, they tend to grow democratically and unpredictably from their distributed roots; content is not broadcast and controlled from a central source.
It's easy to mistake blogs for e-mail, which has the same chronological format and many of the same features. A few key differences give blogs their great leverage as knowledge-management tools:
E-mail is a separate internet protocol that handles all messages as e-mails. Blogs are part of the world wide web, thus enabling users to integrate and automatically update data from any digital source and present new content as user-formatted, universally accessible web pages. Blog contents can be retrieved from an enterprise database consisting of word documents, spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, e-mails, instant messages, online chats, phone conversations, accounting transactions, personal profiles, workflow procedures, customer inquiries, etc. and organized by time period (daily, weekly, monthly), content category, or person (not exclusively the originator).
E-mail contents are stored in files organized mainly by subject (or file name) and date. Blogs are stored in central databases and, when supported by a content-management platform, can be configured for project management, team collaboration, document version control, restricted-access, and countless other applications of knowledge management.
It's easy for e-mail content to get lost or become part of an information overload. Blog software automatically directs defined categories of information to recipients designated by name, title, project, special interest, or authority etc.
E-mailed information doesn't always get to everyone who needs it, especially when a conversation generates complex multiple threads leading in different directions. Blog content is identified by its information category, not by subject or keyword.
Any user can attach documents or multimedia files to her blog entry. She can create links to other relevant websites and incorporate "favorites" from other sites. A user can call up archived pages that are organized by date, content category, or the person who posted the blog. Thus knowledge remains--stored, categorized, and accessible--within the enterprise even if the knowledge worker doesn't. …