Exploit the gaps, not the silos

Toby Moores is a visiting professor at the Institute of Creative Technology and founder of videogame company Sleepydog. His company is best known for creating Buzz!, the hugely popular quiz for the Sony Playstation. He finds opportunities in the gaps between silos and traditional structures which are not good at communication and collaboration.

Of course, the barriers will fall over time and he will end up looking in new places for his opportunities but, as you might expect from a creative person, he has absolutely no shortage of ideas.

Loosely connected with this was the transcript of an interview with Tim Berners-Lee, done by Talis’ Paul Miller. It’s scheduled to go online next Wednesday (27th) and you might find it interesting. It gives a glimpse of how information can be liberated from its silos and encouraged to flow to where it’s needed and to be aggregated and annotated in new ways.

And also connected, IBM is a company which has unleashed a swathe of communication and collaboration tools on its employees over the past ten years which, once again, can liberate information from its silos to the benefit of those who are able to re-use it.

As you know, everything digital can be easily copied and moved. Hoarding is more likely to diminish a person’s reputation or, worse, make them completely invisible. Creativity is easier than ever before. Sure, the average person can’t create a Harry Potter film, but they can create interesting YouTube movies, machinima animations or screencasts. And, of course, information mashups get easier by the day.

Abundance is the key here. And the more abundant information (in whatever form) becomes, the less value it has in its own right. What adds value is doing something new with it. The Berners-Lee semantic web stuff can ensure that information carries its provenance around with it. The stuff that Sleepydog produces indirectly promotes the films and singers whose clips are used. Oh and the IBMers who give are more likely to do themselves good than those who simply consume.

Potentially, everyone who originates useful, interesting or entertaining raw material can gain in some way from sharing rather than hoarding. But the real winners are those who are able to innovate through original blending of existing material.

And that’s where you and I come in. Everyone of us is different. We each have our own take on the world and most of us are multidisciplinary to some degree. We speak one language at home and another at work, one when we’re with the engineers another when we’re talking to the chef. It’s a natural human thing. If you find yourself able to talk the language of each of two different groups then you are surrounded by opportunity.

It strikes me that operating in the gap between IT and management is a fine starting point.

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