So I don’t get this: Jon Udell:

“Let’s suppose Kathy, the department administrator, reminds Frank, the CIO, that Paul, the marketing guy, is way overdue for a PC upgrade. Frank pushes back: the budget is tight and something’s got to give. So Paul negotiates a deal: he’ll give up the DVD burner if he still have the flatscreen he asked for. But since Paul is in marketing, and he does sometimes have to burn DVDs, Frank tacks a DVD burner on to the upgrade order for Marcia, who’s also in marketing. But the deal is that Marcia will have to share that DVD burner with Paul.

Today this contextual narrative is mostly scattered across a bunch of different email inboxes. It never finds its way into the operational database, although it would be great if it did. That way, the next CIO might have a shot at sorting out the environment that she inherits from Frank. But there’s more than archaeology at stake here. Documents, including the purchase order and the messages related to it, aren’t just passive carriers of information. They’re the warp on which we weave a socially constructed reality. Somehow, we need to find ways to connect that reality to the workflow and process orchestration systems now being invented.”

I totally agree that we socially construct reality. But it’s done socially – not by mining some metadata about a conversation held months or years ago. The new manager Jon mentions will talk (email/chat/IM/…) to Katy or Paul, and construct an understanding from those conversations. He will not get that understanding from researching the metadata trail left by earlier conversations.

It seems to me that Jon’s statement: “Somehow, we need to find ways to connect that reality to the workflow and process orchestration systems now being invented.”, misses the ball. The workflow and process orchestration systems need to take that reality into account, allow for it, ideally even encourage it. But that is a function of the way interaction with those systems is structured (Do the systems force you to do your job one way? Do the systems allow you to construct your own ways of interacting with the people involved?), not something more metadata that can then be mined will solve.

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