Early this morning, my dog Max and I should have been out jogging—in pursuit of our mutual general project goals to lose weight and to improve our cardiovascular systems. Instead, we were plodding along at our customary meditative pace beneath the belt of Orion. Undoubtedly, Max was contemplating the tasty morsels that the toddlers would toss to him from their highchairs later today. I was pondering plogging.
Several years ago blogs emerged from the digital bog as the Web logs—personal journals—of techno-savvy individuals. Blogs were a way to express one's opinions, experiences, and peccadilloes. Then group blogs, corporate blogs, professional blogs, blogs for hire, puff blogs, and other types of spinoff blogs emerged. The addition of new media options—beyond typing on a keyboard—led to the evolution of audio blogs and video blogs—vlogs. What could possibly come next?
Enter the "plog," which seems to be a synthesis of blogs and project-management software, with a dollop of wiki—the low-sodium variety—thrown in for good measure. "Plog," says Wikipedia (for today at least), is a "term most often used to mean a PROJECT LOG website or blog."
Basically, a "plog" is a password-protected blog with added tools that enable project-team members to keep tabs on—and provide input to and guidance on—the progess of a group or organizational project. For example, a library or library consortium could use a plog to: help manage the complex process of migrating from one online catalog system to another; for a building project; for a major Web site redesign; for a serials-cancellation project; or for a thorough review and revision of a policy or set of procedures.
One of the early leaders in the plogging software field is "Basecamp," from a company called 37 Signals. According to the company's site, "Basecamp turns project management and collaboration on its head. Instead of Gantt charts, fancy graphs, and stats-heavy spreadsheets, Basecamp offers message boards, to-do lists, simple scheduling, collaborative writing, and file sharing."
The collaborative writeboard feature in Basecamp is interesting. It seems to have good version control and navigational/display of previous versions.
Plogging is a breath of fresh air in the project-management software field, which always seemed stuffy and stifling to me. The problem I had with traditional project-management software was that the care and feeding of the project-management data often seemed to divert time and energy from actually working on the project. Maybe plogging will solve that problem.
Gantt charts always elicit from me either the deer-in-the-headlights brain freeze or wholesale panic, depending on my blood-sugar level at the time. If Dante were alive and writing today, undoubtedly he would reserve a circle for Henry Laurence Gantt, the inventor/engineer who is credited with developing the eponymous "Gantt chart" in the early twentieth century.
By the way, plogs have even been used to help manage other complex group processes beyond the corporate and organizational spheres. Some twitterpated couples are using plogging software to plan their nuptials. I claim first dibs on a comparative study ten years hence of the divorce rate among couples that engaged in premarital plogging versus those couples who abstained from plogging until they were married.
Soon I may be plogging, blogging, and dogging whilst jogging.
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