Archive for May 19th, 2005

3 Tools to Improve Communications

Thursday, May 19th, 2005

Weblogs, or blogs, are the latest tools sweeping the online communication space. First appearing in the late 90s, blogs became mainstream in the 21st century. The simple reverse chronological format makes it easy to present information and archive it too. Most blogs are written by authors and consumed by readers in a one-way information flow. But, the option exists to allow comments on the blog increasing the interaction among participants. Starting a blog is easy; blog hosting sites like Blogger, LiveJournal make it easy to get started. Server side tools exist too: Moveable Type, bBlog, and WordPress. Once you’ve started, keep the content fresh for your reader is the challenge.

Stay tuned for the next evolution in blogging: podcasting.

A wiki is a collaborative form of web-based software that allows users to add content or edit the existing content. Using a simple syntax, wiki systems render pages in the more complicated HyperText Markup Language (HTML). Since anyone can modify a wiki page, wikis use version control to keep track of changes. Some wikis like TWiki allow you to attach files or documents to your wiki pages. These files are also version controlled, in essence giving you a simple web-based repository for your information. Wikis are not as well known as their cousin, the blog, but their ability to be configured into a collaboration site makes them powerful in a different way. The largest wiki in the world is the Wikipedia.

Discussion Forums
While a blog is basically a one-way flow of information and wikis allow free-for-all content management, discussion boards or message boards capture the question/answer paradigm. How many times have you written an email, CCed, a group of people, and tried to capture all the results? Simple email software, even using the threading options, make this difficult to do. Forum software allows you to post a question and read the answers in a threaded list. Usually part of an existing website or online community, message boards have been around for a long time and originated before the Internet as part of dial-up Bulletin Board Systems (BBS).

At Llamawerx, we’ve used each of these tools in different ways. Right now, you are interacting with our blog Llamatrax. Our Intranet is organized around a wiki where our employees can capture information and documentation. Finally our jetsetjr website combines a blog and discussion forum to create an online community for traveling with children. Choose your tools wisely to maximize dialog with your customers. Like a good carpenter will tell you, everything isn’t a nail.