About Dennis Griess and Collaborate!


Collaborate! is a blog for collecting thoughts on how we work together. For over 20 years, Dennis J. Griess has worked in and around collaboration and knowledge management. After his retirement from IBM in 2013, he had more time to dedicate to activities in support of Compassion by the Book and other non-profit sector activities. On any given Tuesday or Wednesday, you are likely to see his twitter stream (@dgriess) heat up with the hashtags #4glearn and #nonprofit as he shares nuggets from the week’s webinar topic.

My interest in collaboration evolved over quite a period. Before we had social computing and Web 2.0, heck before we had personal computers. In those days, there was a world of complex, process-driven publishing. It was the stuff that made tens of thousands of IBMers the instruments of the world’s second largest publisher (behind the US federal government). We didn’t know at the time that the mark-up language invented by three IBMers: Goldfarb, Mosher and Lorie would become the foundation of what’s now HTML.

Back in the day, we used to type tags (awkward stuff like :p. now <p>) to control text and font placement with precision while maintaining internal logic grouping and flow. We could split up a multi-chapter book among authors and never have to worry about what would happen to the style when all the parts came together.

That was collaboration. It was also structured and effective.

With the advent of personal computers, LANs  and the democratization of most computing tasks, the world got more complex.

I remember when the masses got their first taste of laser printers. All of a sudden people had fonts, fonts and more fonts. They looked like ransom notes. If their printer had 15 fonts, clever authors would show you they knew it. Take that kind of anarchy and multiply it several million times and you get the internet of the late 90s. That’s when I became interested in not just publishing, but behavior. How do we get people to be able to do more. I didn’t know about the wisdom of crowds or tipping points. I just knew we had to work together. We had to figure out what we know and how not to recreate it every time.

So here we are, it’s the twenty-first century and it’s time to share. Please join me and share your thoughts.


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