Garo Garabedyan's Divergent Thinking Blog

Conversation with Luis Suarez

with one comment

I have got a conversation with Luis Suarez, Knowledge Manager, Community Builder & Social Computing Evangelist in the IBM Software Group division (, through ITToolBox network.
I have received the right to publish it in my blog.

TO Luis Suarez FROM Garo Garabedyan
Above is a blog post, where I try to dream about a new automatic way to migrate from long e-mail conversations to a Wiki.
Based on a service, which creates a wiki page for every conversation (by default recognizes a bunch of e-mails as a part of a conversation) and automatically gives rights of Read&Write or only Read to the collaborators according the TO, FROM and CC tags.

I have downloaded your presentation: Тhinking out of the inbox more collaboration through less email.

4th slide- a map of people in a collaboration. I think that in IBM was a social tool which tries to present the relations in a such graphical diagram.

15th slide- e-mail and wiki. Using attached documents in e-mails is not very well presented in wiki. Which particular engine you picture, is there a such engine which provides Document revisions (like the Wiki) for Office files. I will
be very interested in such a service.

I am a student and I will be happy to hear advise from you. Do you share some of my views?

Garo Garabedyan
Sofia, Bulgaria

TO Garo Garabedyan FROM Luis Suarez
Hi Garo,

Thanks a lot for the feedback comments and for the information details! Very insightful, indeed, and glad I am not the only one thinking along these terms as well. Very very good!

I think your idea of an automated process that would convert e-mails into wiki pages with the right level of access and interactions is something that would prove really really useful and I hope to be able to see it at some point in time. Alas, we are not there yet, at least, from what I know of the various wiki engines that I have been exposed to so far, but, like I said, it would be really nice to see it at some point! Because it clearly indicates the way we would need to follow!

With regards to your comments on the slide deck, yes, inside IBM we do have that tool that provides such visualisations and it surely provides a really nice functionality of identifying your experts from a specific community, as well as the weak links from that social network, which will prove to be very handy, specially when you are looking for the right people for the right job!

On the slide of the e-mail and the wiki, I must say that the slide is not from me, the graphic is from Wikinomics and it doesn’t represent a specific wiki engine that supports extremely well attachments, in fact, very few wiki engines do. Wikis are more down to earth towards building content on top of each other’s content but more down to text and hyperlinks than attachments, so I doubt they would ever provide such excellence of support for attachments that you are asking for. If you look into Wikimatrix you will see how not many of them place the focus on attachments, which I think is the right approach. It is more about building the content linearly and in a single interface, instead of having to force people to attach, detach, download, upload, that specific file. I think that was not the purpose wikis were designed for in the first place, I am afraid.

Thanks again for the really nice feedback! Greatly appreciated!

Luis Suarez

TO Luis Suarez FROM Garo Garabedyan

Thank you for your answer and that you have spent time reading my message.
I want to keep a conversation with you and with a project manager of a close to this topic product of IBM.

I think that Wiki pages over E-mail conversations is possible. I can give you short examples of some conversations which will look beautiful if are processed over Wiki.

When I have saw that diagram about sending e-mails with attachments I thought that it is already implemented to have a Document revisions of Office Docs (which I am passioned of). I think that there are a lot of things to be done in this approach. Recognizing the user behavior with Ajax in order to conclude if the user is Adding, Erasing or Editing content, and on the base of this analysis to form a very successful diagram of revisions of every piece from the document and for the whole document. [ # Document revisions]. This way solving a big problem of IT theory, recognizing document revisions.

I believe that my dream of a wiki over e-mail conversation is possible and I think that eventBased Algorithms and Data ( , ) are able to do this job.

I truly thank you and I ask you to contact me with a specialist in the practice field, I want to share my thoughts with both of you.
You as a philosopher with a wide range of ideas.
He/She as a practical implementor.

PS: Social networking can truly change the nowadays web, turning it into more safer and healthy world (
A lot of my friends are becoming zombies while using their computers, I think that by presenting social connections while (i.e.) browsing web page surfers will be protected by this modern disease of IT workers.

Would you be so kind to paste some pieces from your message as comments to the blog post ( ). Now I am studying in Bachelor program in Technical University of Sofia- Bulgaria for 1st year. I work on the blog in order to find valuable remarks and use them in order to continue my education in Europe.

Garo Garabedyan

TO Garo Garabedyan FROM Luis Suarez
Hi Garo,

Thanks for the follow up and for the feedback comments. Appreciated. RE: “I think that Wiki pages over E-mail conversations is possible. I can give you short examples of some conversations which will look beautiful if are processed over Wiki.” > Oh yeah, I know PLENTY of those, too! Starting with this one! As far as I can see almost everything that would not be consider a one-on-one conversation discussing a subject of a sensitive or confidential nature would be considered possible to go into a wiki. And even in the latter example, it could still go into it, if it would be a fully protected wiki, which I have seen far too many. So from what I can see plenty of e-mails could have their space in the wiki-sphere. What I am just trying to say is that as soon as you work with attachments in e-mail that becomes more difficult to manage in a wiki, since wikis have not been built to store attachments, but more to build content ad-hoc amongst a group of people. That’s all what I meant.

With regards to document revisions, I am thinking that a similar thing is what you would get with Recent Changes, right? I mean, they are not as fancy and sophisticated as Office documents, but they surely get the job telling you who made those updates, when, and what content changed, which for the basic purposes of document revisioning may be good enough to get things going. Nothing fancy, nothing more complex. Just gets the job done. And you can syndicate that content, something Office documents don’t offer. So I would find them to have a bit of an advantage in that space, for sure.

Hummm, interesting that you say that e-mail is a collaboration tool, when it is not. Don’t confuse communication vs. collaboration. There are two completely different things. The fact that all of us have abused e-mail as a way to spread information does not mean it will make it as a collaboration tool. In fact, it doesn’t. It does such a poor job at helping collaboration flow in a natural way that it becomes a nightmare, after a few instances, so let’s just try to consider how wikis vs. e-mail, as collaboration tools just don’t compare. Issues like openness, public, awareness, co-creation, co-authorship, etc. etc. just won’t happen in e-mail whereas they really thrive in wiki systems.

With regards to your final comments on contacting a specialist in the practice field, I am sorry to disappoint you, but you won’t find any, main reason being that distinction I mentioned above where e-mail and wiki are two completely different beasts, one to communicate and the other to collaborate, so doubt you would ever find anyone out there in this area. And I think if you are trying to move forward in that direction to make that distinction as well, it would help you save a few headaches along the way.

And with regards to your comments about quoting some of the interactions through e-mail into your blog, I would be more than happy, in fact, I would be more than happy to carry out the conversation through the blog as it would help everyone else out there benefit from such exchange. So, by all means, go ahead and quote those bits and pieces and use a link to my main blog: (I can’t track the links to ITtoolbox’s blog at the moment, trying to fix it as we speak) and will be chiming in accordingly.

Hope that helps and thanks again for the helpful comments and insightful feedback!

Luis Suarez

TO Luis Suarez FROM Garo Garabedyan
About Document Revisions:
Studying Cooperation and Conflict between Authors with history flow Visualizations
Fernanda B. Viégas
MIT Media Lab
Cambridge, MA 02139 USA

Martin Wattenberg
IBM Research
Cambridge, MA 02142 USA

Kushal Dave
IBM Research
Cambridge, MA 02142 USA

eventBased Content Editor, + eventBased Philosophy
By using a declarative approach about the relations between pieces of the content which are fast (and asynchronously) edited by many authors (in example wiki, no one can know how many authors what exactly will edit) to: a) trace changes and inform the interested readers (authors), b) present an excellent data flow diagram of document revisions

Scenario about a):
You add an information about some event and present the needed stuff and declare relations of this stuff to the content about the weather forecast. Some people declare interest of the event.
If this forecast changes, the system traces which content is related to the changed one and informs the authors of the related content about the change.
Next, the authors update the related content by applying the change in the forecast.
You have two choices, to update the information or to not, depending what you think about the importance of the change in the forecast.
System informs the interested readers that a change occurs in the page about the event, if you have updated it.

Garo Garabedyan

TO Garo Garabedyan FROM Luis Suarez
Hi Garo, and me thinking that every single change that you do to most wiki engines would get registered into the system and therefore easy to track. Your comments below suggest otherwise. I am thinking as well that apart from Wikipedia I doubt there would be other wikis at that level and with level of complexity that you are mentioning and as such I doubt it would be even worth while tracking all of that activity. For what purpose, to track active contributors? Wouldn’t that be obvious already? To track doc revisioning? Hummm… interesting but I thought that doc revisioning would be done for documents, in most cases, considered critical or essential to the project or business, and for that I bet there are better tools than wikis, specially when you get involved with Intellectual Capital, Intellectual Property and IP Law.

I am certainly not disagreeing here with your point of view. I think it is a fascinating interesting new aspect of the complexity aspects of a wiki. I am just saying that perhaps a good majority of the folks who regularly use wikis don’t care, and therefore would not want to complicate their user experience.

Thanks for sending the links along! Will keep digging into your research, although with the travelling I am doing at the moment, I am not sure I would be able to get much done before end of June, but will try in between now and then and see how much I can get through.

Thanks again for very enlightening conversation. Take care and have a good one!

(Need to catch a flight to Munich)
Luis Suarez 

TO Luis Suarez FROM Garo Garabedyan

I was busy this month with the final exams in my university.
I want to ask you about your opinion on using ontology in wiki pages.

You know how Wikipedia presents a lot of tags which indicates to the visitors that the information presented here can be a little bit old and not complete. If calling this as an ontology mechanism where people are free to write their opinions in natural language, but are free to mark some pieces of it as related somehow to something out there. Is this kind of collaboration commercially interesting.

I want to give you an example. Imagine a business application which handles all the tasks of the workers and keeps tracking what percent of the work they have done according their own reports. Is this replaceable by a custom designed ontology Wiki. Such a wiki which has tags (like XML) which lets editors to edit task page wikis by setting the percent of the done work.

Is the common application user interface tag presentable (with all the calls up to the database about types in check boxes and list boxes) and in this sense is editing a wiki page become more powerful? Editors can be free to bind this discrete values in such a way like they are in one DataBase and use them around the all wiki pages, when the letter is aimed to a business tasks.

I respect your professional view. What you thing?

Garo Garabedyan,
Sofia, Bulgaria 

TO Garo Garabedyan FROM Luis Suarez
Hi Garo,

Thanks a lot for the message and for the feedback details. I think you are on to something when you are proposing to put together a tagging / folksonomy infrastructure added further add to the contributions of a wiki. More than anything else because you are making the content of the wiki itself much easier to search & find it at the same time that you give people the opportunity to build a second entry of knowledge based on such tagclouds, as well as the overall content from the wiki itself. If you combine that with a potential fixed taxonomy, a limited, but original one, that a wiki may well have you are putting together some really good advantages towards encouraging knowledge workers to collaborate further having that massive index, or tagcloud, of key terms spread around the wiki.

Interesting challenge would be though how to put such folksonomy to the test of proving useful to the business and not just the knowledge workers. I can imagine that the business would be interested, but it would need to see the buy-in. It would work on an individual basis for each of the knowledge workers contributing, but not sure the business will buy it. In fact, there aren’t many businesses out there exploting the power of the tag in a business context to create dynamic taxonomies combining them with folksonomies and I guess that’s mostly due to the fact that people who have been managing those taxonomies in the past may not feel very comfortable with letting that control go.

Not sure whether you would be aware of this or not, but Thomas van der Wal, the guy who coined the term folksonomy, has done some fascinating research around the world of tagging and how it can improve the way people share information as well as find it at a later time. You may want to contact him and see if he would have some other ideas he could throw on the table on the kind of impact it could have on a wiki…

Hope that helps get some discussion going…
Luis Suarez


Written by garabedyan

August 24, 2008 at 10:22

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. We take advantage of this

    Thank you for this topic


    September 19, 2008 at 01:04

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s