This post is a little off my normal topics but is another subject close to my heart. Two questions that come up far too regularly are:
- Where should that be stored?
- How do people know where to look?
In many cases the ‘where’ really doesn’t matter as long as you make it easy for people to find it when they need it. This topic came up when I recently found that someone had made use of a forum response that I had made six months previously. I have content spread around various networks, but hopefully everything is in a relevant place.
That is the first guideline: Put each thing somewhere relevant. I answer questions where they are asked which includes LinkedIn, IBM developerWorks, and other places that I visit. When I am initiating a topic it can be in one of several places and that depends on where I think my primary audience is – that is guideline number two.
I started a discussion thread on a LinkedIn Agile group because I wanted answers from Agile enthusiasts and experts. I work on IBM developerWorks if my primary intended audience is most likely to be found there. I am new to this ‘blogging on my own account, but here is the place where I can express ideas that are mine and have a space that I am in control of. I work in various spaces within the company firewall for topics that are not ready for the wider world.
Even within something that sounds as simple as LinkedIn, there is the question of whether to use your profile or a group, and which group to choose. Once relevance is established, it is then relatively easy to point to the conversation or content from a number of other places. I have a developerWorks feed on my about me page here. I use LinkedIn to highlight my posts here. I use Twitter to highlight activity in other places, including here. If I have a single point of contact, then I suppose that would be my about.me page at the moment. I link from there to all my professional social network spaces.
So what did I mean by ‘Finding vs Searching’ in the title? People hate searching for information, people love to find what they need without searching. Most people have a few entry points, and by leaving an easy to follow trail from these points, you can make information easy to find without making people search. I was always told that it is not what you know, but who you know that matters, and that still holds true. If I want reliable information then I need to satisfy myself that it is coming from someone I trust, the location is much less important. If I want to know about someone, I will often go to their LinkedIn page as a first reference. Leaving trails of breadcrumbs from one place to another is enormously helpful.
Below is a diagram showing some of those information relationships.