Content and collaboration move from memex to metaverse

The basic ideas for weaving new types of content workflows predate the personal computer. Yet today’s businesses struggle to improve the way they create and share documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, limitations of existing content and collaborative workflows became apparent as employers and employees attempted to adapt old office processes to the new reality of remote working . The number of workers using collaboration tools has increased from 55% in 2019 to 79% in 2021, according to a Gartner Digital Worker Experience survey released in August.

A new generation of collaborative content tools reinvigorates the original vision of collaborative knowledge development.

Everyone collectively wants the combination of Zoom, Word, email, and file sharing to be a little less dreadful and maybe even fun and engaging. Meanwhile, traditional content development workflows are influenced by new collaborative approaches, more immersive content, and more composable content. Unified Communications software functionality evolves into workflow collaboration tools that blend discussion and content development workflows. And businesses recognize that metaverse content can improve business communications.

How it all began

Some of the earliest concepts of IT content collaboration date back to before the advent of PCs and just after the first usable mainframe. In 1945 Vannevar Bush wrote an article for the Atlantic this introduced a new vision of how computers – which he coined “memex” to signify an “extended supplement” to our memory – could unlock collaborative knowledge development.

In 1968, engineer and inventor Douglas Engelbart brought Bush’s vision to life with his famous “Mother of All Demos” which showed how the personal computer could change the face of communication and collaboration. But despite this promising glimpse into the future at the time, content collaboration typically merged into document business emails formatted to fit on printed pages.

Word and PDF documents have become the content of choice for most business-generated information, including user regulatory records, marketing materials, product manuals, loan applications, white papers, and customer documentation. workers. Even eBooks, with their promise of new ways to organize content, are simply a better approach to reformatting content for smaller screens.

A new way of thinking

Due to the pandemic and the acceptability of the hybrid workforce, new content and collaboration tools and best practices have emerged.

Mixed content productivity tools like Zoho and ClickUp, which combine documents, discussions, goals, tasks and whiteboards, are starting to take hold. ClickUp Founder and CEO Zeb Evans said his company’s user base quadrupled from 200,000 to 800,000 teams in the past year alone. “In order to truly unleash productivity,” said Evans, “teams need to be able to drastically reduce the number of tools they have to manage, and all teams need to be able to work together in one place.”

Businesses are likely to see some of the best results from the collaboration features built into modern cloud productivity services like Google Docs and Microsoft Office. Both platforms have improved security and workflows for collaboration between large teams.

“Now, with so many companies having fully remote or hybrid operations, cloud-based collaboration tools are at the forefront,” observed Ray Blakney, CEO and co-founder of the School of Business. online language learning Live Lingua. Before the pandemic, his team walked from office to office exchanging content ideas with colleagues. Now, they rely heavily on the advancements of Google Drive, Google Sheets, Google Documents and Dropbox. Blakney expects the multifunctional capabilities of these types of tools to make content collaboration easier and more efficient for remote teams.

The need to share content

The end of e-mails? Not so fast

Despite the promise of new collaborative paradigms, organizations will continue to use email as a form of communication to accommodate older and more experienced employees. “Those [new] digital tools are becoming second nature to younger generations, but present a steep learning curve for others, ”said Andrew Shingler, senior solutions consultant with Zimbra workplace collaboration.

Email is the only digital tool capable of adequately closing the communication gap, regardless of its perceived limitations, compared to specially designed collaboration tools. “In our planning with clients,” added Shingler, “email remains at the center of most collaboration and communication strategies.”

Cloud-based tools facilitate a new concept of collaboration called work out loud. “It’s the idea that employees share the things they’re working on to keep people in the know and provide visibility into their content across team spaces, communities of practice and other public spaces across the board. ‘inside the digital workplace,’ explained Michael Hicks, chief marketing officer. at Beezy, a digital work platform provider.

This approach departs from the notion that content collaboration is only for small groups. Working out loud can provide insight into what different teams and departments are working on across the organization. It also helps employees discover and reuse information that may be relevant to their projects, as well as contribute to employee engagement and company culture.

Smart collaboration

Enter 3D interactive collaboration

Before the pandemic, robotic and deep-water optical sensor maker Impossible Sensing typically brought in 3D printed scale models of its products to demonstrate and pass on to potential customers to stimulate ideas and conversation. Its audience consisted of NASA scientists, climate researchers and potential investors. COVID-19 lockdowns have forced the company to replicate its in-person demonstrations remotely and interactively.

“We need to get people excited, that’s where content collaboration tools help,” said Pablo Sobron, Founder and CEO of Impossible Sensing. The company uses Canvas GFX’s Envision 3D interactive content and collaboration platform to optimize content creation and streamline 3D collaboration processes between its product engineers, sales team, and customers to generate compelling views of the world. product.

“Content collaboration tools,” Sobron explained, “have an important role to play in delivering these interactive experiences for teams and distributed ecosystems. Sharing static images is not enough in our industry. Sobron also said his company can now host 10 times more collaborative meetings interactively than in person.

Nvidia’s Omniverse platform for 3D design collaboration and simulation and Facebook’s renaming to Meta are other examples of the trending metaverse. Besides creating more engaging games and social interactions, the metaverse could also make it easier to understand complex consumer devices like cars, whose user manuals haven’t changed much in decades. According to Patricia Hume, CEO of Canvas GFX, interactive and collaborative content also finds its place in sales and promotion materials, educational content and installation manuals for businesses and end users.

Collaborative software vendors are exploring new ways to create more immersive meeting experiences, while companies try to determine where these tools add the most value. “Because the collaboration has suffered over the past two years due to remote working, employers are trying to find ways to virtually replicate the in-person experience,” said Dan Lawyer, product manager at the platform provider. – Lucid Software visual collaboration form. “But virtual reality [virtual reality] is not necessarily the only solution, especially at this stage. “

Applications of content collaboration tools

Back to its origins

Ironically, new types of content and collaboration tools carry Bush’s original vision for memex. Notion’s note-taking and project management software, for example, can create and share dynamic content in smaller, more composable chunks. Platforms like Roam Research, Amplenote, and Mem can create associative links between pieces of shared knowledge for collaborative learning, academic research, and product development. New enterprise-grade offerings such as Zenkit’s Hypernotes build on these core capabilities with support for single sign-on, access management, and audits.

“The concept of memex is not new, but it is the first time that someone – really anyone – can create a personal knowledge graph without typing a single line of code,” observed Anne-Laure. Le Cunff, founder of Knowledge Collaboration Advisory. Ness Laboratories. “As new thinking tools emerge, content creation will become smarter and more cooperative, contributing to our collective intelligence in ways that were not possible before.”

The field of the metaverse was galvanized by the example of the Zettelkasten knowledge management method of sociologist Niklas Luhmann, which enabled it to produce more than 75 books and 500 articles. While software can help retain this knowledge, it is still a manual process, but improvements in artificial intelligence technologies could help. IBM’s Project Debater, for example, demonstrated how AI can help extract and organize complex topics into larger-scale discussion. “It’s a new era for collaborative thinking,” said Le Cunff.

More organizations will automate the distillation of information from raw data, speculated Sam Babic, senior vice president and technical director of content services provider Hyland Software. Companies are in the early stages of finding ways to combine data warehousing, data aggregation, and machine learning to transform data into information, knowledge, ideas and wisdom, which could help bring scale Bush’s original collaborative ideas for the masses.

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