There’s much talk about how no-one participates, anymore. We talk both at the project level and the industry level about how to “engage” people because it appears to be the impossible task.

For example, I’d posted a quick survey on conferences here awhile back ( While I see that people occasionally view the results, they don’t bother to take the poll while they’re looking at it. It’s possible most of them aren’t going to a conference to have anything to put into the poll, but unlikely that NONE of them are going to. So, people appear to be bent on lurking rather than participating. They will read things but not act on them.

For another example, there are some customers I’ve had where I’ll send people documents for review and I never hear back from them. When I contact them, it turns out they did review the document, but didn’t think to respond that they found the document acceptable and that it can move to its next stage, even when my message asks them to do that.

So, are we getting worse as we get busier? Well, I doubt it. This is something we’ve been complaining about for as long as I can remember. It’s the whole society-is-going-downhill and it’s-not-like-the-good-old-days stuff. I think this is just an ongoing challenge.

But then, isn’t Web 2.0 supposed to fix this? After all, with Web 2.0, we don’t just get information pushed to us – we create it – we’re empowered to drive the content. Okay, well, here’s a reality check – just because we’re empowered to do it doesn’t mean that we will. In fact, I was reading statistics on the participation in any type of group, on-line or in-person, LinkedIn or your corporate site, and the statistics on participation were extremely low. Most people are and will remain lurkers who read what comes out and never pipe-up with a thought or comment. There are some that don’t participate, at all, where they join and don’t even pay attention to the meetings or content.

So, whether you’re running an in-person professional group, an on-line discussion group, and whether it’s public or private, you’ve got your work cut out for you to get people engaged in it. I will tell you that that is the number one challenge I face with the LIMS/Laboratory Informatics group that I’m working with. Even within the corporations, time-and-time, again, people tell me they’ve created a great networking tool for the organization to share information and then no-one uses it.

Bottom line: It’s hard to get people engaged and involved. You have to develop a plan. Part of that plan should be that you’re planning it will be harder than you thought it would be.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises

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