Your Intranet Doesn’t Look Anything Like My Intranet!

Deane at Gadgetopia has an interesting post about intranets . She writes:

There are three types of intranets. They’re very different, and when someone thinks “intranet,” they’re no doubt thinking of one of the three types. Intranets can overlap from one type to another, but they tend to fall along these lines:

1. The collaboration platform
2. The internal Web site
3. The distributed intranet

When discussing an intranet with a client or within your own organization, you need to first figure out what people think when the word “intranet” comes up.

Semantics. Is it a regular issue with you, too? How many lawyer/management/librarian/technology meetings have you been to where the terms in question mean different things to different people and often the different interpretations don’t come to light until well into an increasingly confusing discussion? That’s when you say, “Hold on here. Let’s get something straight”! Terms we struggle with include “knowledge management”, “precedent”, “work product”, “taxonomy”, “account”, “network” … and the list goes on. This is why legislation usually starts with a list of definitions right off the bat, right? Now I know to make sure we’re straight on “intranet”, too.

Here is the Wikipedia entry for intranet.
I looked at the Wikipedia entry for semantics and laughed! It looks like “semantics” means different things to different people, too!

You’d think we’d try to avoid making our already confusing English language even more confusing, but no! Someone somewhere is laughing!


  1. #1 – is just a feature of a more sophisticated product.
    #2 – is the most accurate definition, of these three.
    #3 – simply sounds like poor management. Multiple servers are ok, but when features go unconnected, this is typical of ‘no one in control’ or a sign of office politics.

    Anyone who takes the time to read the literature on corporate Intranets, will find the definition to be very consistent. … I hate chalking up ‘differences in understanding’ to semantics, when the more likely culprit is simply a lack of comprehension.

    If two people have taken the time to read in the same area, but come away with a different take, that’s a difference in semantics. BUT when one person tries to re-define a concept because of limited understanding, they may be condemning their organization to years of confusion.

  2. Thanks for your knowledgeable response, Steven. Of course there’s the rub … getting all of the diverse people involved to spend the requisite time getting on the same page in the first place.

  3. True :-)

    … Nice series of posts Heather. You’ve been back with a vengeance lately!

  4. I’m a solo, Steven … sometimes you get some spare moments, sometimes you just don’t!