Groupware and software that helps groups collaborate. At my law firm we use an E-mail program called Groupwise, which was probably so named because E-mail is a great way for groups of people to collaborate. It has other wonderful features that make it easy for us lawyers to work together. For example, it has a function that lets someone who has to schedule a meeting send out an “appointment,” which is like an E-mail except that it goes into the recipient's calender if she simply “accepts” the message. This is a wonderful feature.
But only if the recipients actually use their Groupwise calenders.
Most attorneys in our office don't use their Groupwise calenders. There are other features that would be helpful but they all depend on people keeping their calenders in Groupwise. I mention this because it is always interesting when I hear discussions of “social software” and how it will revolutionize our world.
Weblogs are supposed to be revolutionary. And there are even weblogs for “groups,” which are called “Wikis.” Will these groupware tools allow people to collaborate in radical new ways?
Maybe. Or maybe not.
Recently, Clay Shirky, a really smart guy and keen observer of the role of technology in society, had some comments about social software in a talk called A Group is It's Own Worst Enemy. Definitely worth reading. [Ernie the Attorney]