Question 152 of 365: What do we do with uninvited guests (or, the CC effect)?

Question 152 of 365: What do we do with uninvited guests (or, the CC effect)?

There is a disturbing trend in sharing.

We share with others (as we should), giving them the ability to edit and observe. This allows them to contribute and for everyone in the collaborative process to move forward. However, this is where the trend emerges. Once this becomes a norm within our institutions, there becomes an expectation of sharing. Ordinarily I would say that this is a good thing. I have spoken many times about the “collaborative instinct” thqt I believe to be essential. But it isn’t the people that we intend to share with that are causing the trend. It is the expectation that everyone needs access to all collaborative processes. It is the CC effect. Because so many people are being given the rights to edit and add to the conversation, everyone believes these rights are inalienable now.

We share documents now because we think we have to. We let the collaborative space be the way in which we communicate changes in direction, and we let the single act of contribution become the end all and be all. We are cc’ing the collaborative process by keeping our bosses in the loop. We are shortchanging the power of the brainstorm because we need to be setting up protocols for future times to come together. Drafting areas are becoming final solutions.

The unending email thread is no longer the worst thing to happen in office politics. Now, the wiki with an agenda that doesn’t take into account all those with editing rights, is dead in the water, as are its originators.

But, what do you do with a list of people who have access to a google doc, all of which matter but one? What do you do with a Wave that can’t get the work done that it was designed for, simply because of who it was shared with? How do we get rid of our unwanted collaborators?

We used to be able to hold meetings at awkward times to try and smoke out those with a hidden agenda. We used to be able to write one another notes and leave them on the desk of certain people. We used to not have to worry that the edit button was just a single click away from the very people who seek to derail our change or cross out our best ideas.

When the unwanteds speak up, there isn’t anything to be done other than to sit and take it. Much of the time they occupy very disarming positions of power. And they are the folks who recognize when they have been removed from the access list.

Much like my wife’s high school boyfriend noticed when she unfriended him on Facebook. She gave the logical reason that she didn’t want to be friends with him on facebook if they couldn’t be friends in real life. I can respect that, of course. But this former flame noticed his sudden unfriendly status with Kara and called her on it. She refriended, but that wasn’t fair. Clearly she could (and still can) take a harder stance with him, but she shouldn’t have to. It should be okay to set boundaries on everything that is shared.

While I am no expert in privacy settings, here is what I propose:

  • Along with the ability to share a document or piece of information with specific people, there should also be the ability to bleep it out for certain users. No matter if they were shared with directly or received a link, I would like to see a way to specifically and preemptively ban the people who are willing and capable of creating havoc in our collaborations.
  • I want to see the staggered share. I want he ability to edit the live document and then publish a more sanitized version of the document whenever it is appropriate to do so for a second tier of users. Right now, everyone either has view or edit rights. I think it should be edit, view, see. As in, you see what we show you.
  • I want the ability to kick people out and not have them know it. I want to keep letting them see the same version of the document or site that they originally accessed, but nothing more recent. Perhaps this is too underhanded for most communications, but I think that addressing the security of information is all about taking snapshots of what that information is and providing them as evidence of the collaborative process. Kicking uncollaborative people out of the environment is the only way that they will see just where the value comes from. An alternative to this solution would be to simply be able to tag every element of a collaboration with users who can edit, view, or see them. This may be more cumbersome, but it may allow for more transparency. Essentially, we are telling people that the web isn’t the same for everyone, and there is no one source of truth, unless you create it. I think that most folks are going to have to get used to that soon enough anyway.
  • So what do we do with uninvited guests? Nothing… Yet.

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