ThoughtFarmer vs. FLATNESSES: Is ThoughtFarmer freeform, social and emergent?


Last week we considered ThoughtFarmer vs. SLATES. What about ThoughtFarmer vs. FLATNESSES, Dion Hinchcliffe’s new updated acronym for Enterprise 2.0?

I realized the shortcomings of SLATES after reading this blog post by Jed Cawthorne. He compared old-school ECMs with SLATES and scored them 5.5 out of 6. That’s 92%! For Web 1.0 technology! So what’s missing from SLATES?

Hinchcliffe adds 4 new things to his acronym:

  • Freeform
  • Network-oriented
  • Social
  • Emergence

ThoughtFarmer and FLATNESSES: A new Enterprise 2.0 acronym
How does ThoughtFarmer stack up to this “more refined conception of Enterprise 2.0”?


ThoughtFarmer starts as a blank slate for every customer, and then begins a rapid — and freeform — evolution. Our clients use it as a:

  • Wiki
  • Corporate intranet
  • Extranet
  • Project management system
  • Document management system
  • Link aggregator
  • Combination of the above

As a democratic, group-maintained platform, ThoughtFarmer becomes whatever its users want it to be.


“[Application content must] be fully Web-oriented, addressable, and reusable.”

ThoughtFarmer content is fully web-oriented and addressable. On “reusable”, though, we still have work to do.

Our 2.5 release, due in January, greatly expands RSS generation to almost every nook and cranny. To achieve a perfect score on reusability, though, we’ll have to expose our internal API to other applications. This is a priority for us in 2008.


The social networking aspects of ThoughtFarmer are stronger than any other enterprise wiki solution. These include:

  • Visual relationship browser
  • Personal status updates (Facebook-style)
  • Auto-generated links between people and content
  • User “Favourites”
  • Recent changes by person


Emergence means that something complex arises out of relatively simple interactions. A document is the emergent product of a wiki; an answer is the emergent product of a prediction market.

A good ThoughtFarmer example is the Installation Guide on our support site. Seven of our team members have added, edited, and revised the document over many months in response to new versions and new issues. Each change is minor, but the emergent product is a detailed set of instructions. Yes, ThoughtFarmer has emergence.


FLATNESSES may not roll off the tongue, but it captures the components of Enterprise 2.0 more completely than SLATES.

These comparisons have been a useful exercise for me, and I’m pleased that by either the SLATES or FLATNESSES yardstick, ThoughtFarmer is genuinely Enterprise 2.0.


Join The Discussion

  1. Jed

    OK Chris, you have prompted me to take up the challange and assess ECM’s against the new elements of the FLATNESSES model:

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