Literate Business and Euan Semple

May 4, 2011 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

Euan Semple's Literate Business post of May 4, 2011 is well worth reading. In preparing to write his book, Euan noted "There's something wrong with the names we use for social web tools in business... whether Enterprise 2.0, Social business or whatever."

"It occurred to me that what is significant about the tools we are seeing creeping into the business world is not so much that they are social as that they are literary in nature. They require, at whatever level, people to observe the world around them, make sense of it, and convey that sense to others, mostly, through the written word. All three parts of this process are the essence of good literature and they are all relatively unfamiliar in the business world. Most people don't pay much attention to what is going on around them, they don't sit and think much about what it means, and they are very unlikely to take the time to sit down and write about it. This is what blogging or tweeting makes easier. It also makes it collective."

I like Literate Business a lot. One advantage vs Enterprise 2.0, Web 2.0: the prior state is "illiterate" - which carries a lot of truth.

Literate implies, but does not strictly require an audience. The audience expects that they can come up to speed at any time by reading what the author has written in the past, as well as literate (curated) commentary, discussion and analysis. The value of the curated content grows over time. Evaluation of past decisions and analysis can even be changed in light of future experience! You might get better at what worked, avoid what failed, and let everyone learn from experience!

Literate also says much for the value of recorded narrative or observable work versus a business environment where decisions are made and good or bad inferences are drawn in near-real-time, with nothing preserved but ill formed and inconsistently remembered recollections of those present in the little room or on the call.

The only thing missing is collaborative creation of literature, which is not that common. But if you set the words to music I guess you could call it Business Jazz!

Related

The Future of Work Platforms: Like Jazz
Enterprise 2.0 and Observable Work
Enterprise 2.0 Schism