Jive or MediaWiki – how to organise your team?
Here’s a quick question.
Our company recently bought wholesale into Jive SBS as our Knowledge-sharing platform.
Now, rather than relying on an ancient-runes-of-the-geek markup editing in our old Wiki sites based on MediaWiki, we can simply pile all sorts of information, discussions, etc. etc. etc. into Jive, and then just google-search the lot whenever we want to find something.
Except… I don’t like it. And I’ve launched myself headlong into this for over a month, so I should have a good idea by now.
Here’s the problem: structure – of both Knowledge, and how your mind navigates it. On our Wiki, we had a top level index of our departments. Browsing into mine, would show various high-level titles such as team organisation, demos, RFP information, etc. etc. Navigate into one of those, and you’d find a suitable submenu… and so on, and so on. At the bottom of the tree would be some details, or a table, or a load of attached files.
With Jive, there are a few top-level groupings, but everything else is unstructured. Instead of a hierarchical organisational tree, there are tags. You tag your info, and someone else searching for that info should be able to find it, just based on the tags, and keywords.
Now… I’m sorry, but that’s not the way I roll. If I want to dig out the latest demo recording for my team, then on the Wiki, I can go to that page – maybe even bookmark it – and there’s a list of all our recordings with the latest one at the top. Click. Done.
With Jive, and similar applications, assuming that we have a lot of info there, I can’t just browse to it, because it’s not organised in that way. Instead, I search, or I filter by a number of tags. Assuming that all documents were tagged correctly… because when using Jive, tagging is optional, and unstructured, whereas with MediaWiki (at least, one that you build a structure into), then the hierarchy that you use to find the documents is both compulsory, and structured.
Let’s take an analogy. With MediaWiki, you know where to find stuff – in the same way that your keys are by the door, and your milk is in the fridge. Want to open the back door? Your deadbolt key will be in the hallway, on the shelf, on your main keyring. Your old key from when you had the locks changed may still be on the keyring too, but you remember which is which.
With Jive, you stand in the centre of your house, and shout “back door deadbolt key!” And, instantly, unseen hands strew a range of keys, maybe a paint key chart, a book on keys, and an album by Alicia Keys, on the table in front of you. Easy! Fast! And so you take the key you want. Except.. is it? Is it definitely the backdoor key? Is it the old key, or the new one? Did they find all the keys? You’re really itching to go back to the hallway anyway, and check the shelf, in case there are any other keys there. Except, of course, with Jive, you can’t.
And so that’s where I stand with Jive. It’ll give you results… and you may find stuff that you otherwise wouldn’t have done… but you’re not sure what else there might be, and so therefore, you can’t be sure that what you’ve retrieved is the best result for you.
Of course – I can see why Jive has been chosen. It’s much more user-friendly, looks cooler, has an iPhone App (which is unreliable and slow on the server side, at least on our deployment), and removes the necessity of nominating someone to, in our analogy, be the housekeeper. Rather than trying to keep things organised and tidy, with Jive, you can more or less throw everything anywhere, abeit with a few tags if possible, please, and Jive’ll sort it out. We hope.