Slack caught my eye because it is a collaboration tool, and one of the areas of interest to me in my school leadership position is how to more effectively communicate in our fast-paced, never in the same place at the same time setting. Be it academic, social/emotional, or discipline, our team is constantly moving from issue to issue, and collaboration, or communication, is an area of concern.
Slack presents as a set of collaboration tools and services, and is actually and acronym for “Searchable Log of All Conversations and Knowledge.”. Looking through the website and what parts of the App I was able to interact with, I felt overwhelmed. But, with most things, I assumed it was just the overload of information that I was trying to assimilate.
Organizationally, Slack hit the right buttons for me – albeit with some new lingo to pick up. Channels – where your communication takes place, organized how you want it (or think you do) – by project, topic, team, or further. For me, I started thinking about an academic channel, a school counseling channel, an admissions channel, and student discipline channel. The list could go on and on. All of these channels are searchable, so you would always have access to conversations, notes, attachments and results. And the tool integrates with everything – you can add in other tools, such as Google Drive or Dropbox, so it allows you to organize and complement your work with other files.
The business side of my former life loved what I saw – the ability to collaborate and organize by client, project, or role was always something I wanted. Specific threads for specific situations, with the right people at the right time. Along the way, you are actually building a knowledge base for all users of the channel, with access to all of the tools that you need in one place. As I started to dig more, I started to sense that in order for this to work for me, something would have to give.
And then it hit me, and my searching went in a different direction. This tool, to be most successful, has to replace something that is critical to how we do things today – email. The switching costs just got astronomically high for me. In my quest to find something useful, I unearthed something much bigger. But – maybe that is not a bad thing.
The YouTube video below is a nice walk through the process of Stephen Michaels, a Professor of Political Science at Sacred Heart University and explains how he set up Slack for one of his courses. Listening to his approach, I was pulled back into feeling like I had shifted from looking for a collaboration tool to now learning about a Learning Management System (LMS) – not my original intent.
I have also included a couple of articles that give both sides of the argument – why use Slack and why to not use Slack. These were two that I found readable and relative to the discussion. Enjoy!
Thinking about the readings from Kelly and the video with Shirky, I was struck by a couple of items. Kelly’s first three chapters had my head spinning. Very futuristic, which for me is not yet a comfort zone. But, his conversation on AI, and continuously getting better based on the knowledge it acquires stuck with me when reading about one of Slack’s features being the creation of a knowledge base around a project/team/client channel. The end-users are creating the knowledge base, but for how long? Shirky spoke in his video about success coming out of failure. Slack was originally designed as an internal communication tool for the developers of Glitch (game). When Glitch failed, they shifted gears and brought Slack to market, publicly launching as a company in 2013. Success from failure. For now.