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November 14, 2008

On sharing...

Great post from Scott Leslie on EdTechPost, Planning to share versus just sharing, about why institutional approaches to sharing so often fail.  The post is primarily about initiatives around sharing learning content but my suspicion is that it applies much more widely and (I think) endorses a lot of the things I've been saying about needing to understand, and play to, the real social networks that researchers use when we are thinking about repositories.

Here are a couple of quotes:

...grow your network by sharing, not planning to share or deciding who to share with; the tech doesn’t determine the sharing - if you want to share, you will; weave your network by sharing what you can, and they will share what they can - people won’t share [without a lot of added incentives] stuff that’s not easy or compelling for them to share. Create virtuous cycles that amplify network effects. Given the right ’set,’ simple tech is all they need to get started.

Talking about traditional institutional approaches to sharing, he says:

In my experience, a ton of time goes into defining ahead of time what is to be shared. Often with little thought to whether it’s actually something that is easy for them to share. And always, because its done ahead of time, with the assumption that it will be value, not because someone is asking for it, right then, with a burning need. Maybe I’m being too harsh, but my experience over a decade consulting and working on these kinds of projects is that I’m not. Someone always thinks that defining these terms ahead of time is a good idea. And my experience is that you then get people not sharing very much, because to do so takes extra effort, and that what does get shared doesn’t actually get used, because despite what they said while they were sitting in the requirements gathering sessions, they didn’t actually know what the compelling need was, it just sounded like a good idea at the time.


The institutional approach, in my experience, is driven by people who will end up not being the ones doing the actual sharing nor producing what is to be shared. They might have the need, but they are acting on behalf of some larger entity.


...much time goes into finding the right single “platform” to collaborate in (and somehow it always ends up to blame - too clunky, too this, too that.) And because typically the needs for the platform have been defined by the collective’s/collaboration’s needs, and not each of the individual users/institutions, what results is a central “bucket” that people are reluctant to contribute to, that is secondary to their ‘normal’ workflow, and that results in at least some of the motivation (of getting some credit, because even those of us who give things away still like to enjoy some recognition) being diminshed. And again, in my experience, in not a whole lot of sharing going on.

Is this stuff ringing any repository bells for people?


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Absolutely. :) And for some unaccountable reason, I coupled that post with one of yours on my blog. Imagine that.

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