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Decision, Sense and Action

Last Sunday, Phil Wolff asked the question "What's the link between blogs and action?". It's a good, and important question. And the more I think about it, the more I think, in many ways, the answer is "None".

My knee-jerk answer to the question at the time was that blogs help decisions (in the Japanese sense) not actions. That is, they're an aid to "sensemaking" - getting an aggregate view of an issue, understanding the landscape, education not training.

And at the time, Anu commented that Rob Cross of Harvard had spoken of the difference between sense-networks and action networks. Action networks, if I remember (I haven't been able to source the work), need a level of physical presence. Sense networks don't. I may well be grossly misrepresenting it - and please let me know if I am - but I'm not sure the divide holds: Open Source is surely an exception in that it is action based (you get a tangible out put at the end) and it is distributed?

That said, I like the divide, so stealing the distinction and rephrasing it I'd say this: Action networks can, I think, be managed. You have a task you need to do, you can manage the pursuit of that task, through resource allocation etc. Sense networks, by contrast, can only be fostered. You can perhaps manage the tools which help you make sense (of a situation, of whether a decision needs to be made), but you can't manage the way people make sense of things. Help, yes, but not manage.

Blogging, it seems to me, is a way for people to help themselves make sense of something, to clarify the way in which they view one or more topics. They are personal. Focused on collaboration perhaps, but personal views of how the world makes sense.

Blogs may help people make better decisions, and so result in qualitatively (who knows?) better actions, but is there a direct link? I'd have to say no.


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