Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Driving blind into a Web 2.0 storm

I've suggested finding a friendly geek to help you get started on Web 2.0 inside your organisation. This of course assumes the geeks in your organisation know about Web 2.0 or at least tools like wikis, blogs and RSS...

"How can the percentage of Web 2.0 users in a room full of IT pros be 0%, and the percentage of companies as a whole using Web 2.0 technologies hover somewhere near the 40% mark?

The answer: More and more employees are bringing Web 2.0 technologies into the enterprise without the involvement of IT. Even within IT departments, Moore said, rouge workers are experimenting with blogs and wikis for work purposes without IT managers even being aware of it."

From's SMB Connection blog.

Blogging or just Web content?

As I've been saying for a while now, a blog has nothing to do with the software it runs on but how you choose to use it. Care of James Governor, Abhijit Nadgouda explains why WordPress is actually a good generic Web Content Management System (WCMS):

"WordPress provides good infrastructure of web publishing and gives you tools to build an interactive web site... I will continue to recommend WordPress for many simple web sites, it really makes sense."

Some of the comment provide some examples of WordPress sites that look, well, not like blogs at all.

Now, this brings me to something that has been bothering me - Jonny Bentwood has released a league table of the top 50 English-language technology analyst blogs. This is based on a ranking system that draws on Google PageRank, Bloglines Subscribers, Technorati Ranking and his own ranking of that values "frequent, relevant, creative and high-quality content with a good number of comments."

The last part is good at least, but in practice if we look at the number 1 ranked blog, Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, then so far in June there are just 4 posts with only 2 comments (the content itself is focused on a book they are writing so hardly great analysis either). Compare this with Stowe Boyd's blog, which comes in at second place, where we find about 32 posts in June to date and numerous comments. So, what defines a truly popular blog - is it page rank or the conversation around it? And on that point, if you have a "blog" that doesn't allow comments should it really be labelled as a blog? Personally, I don't believe in one-sided conversations. What do you think?

Matt's Knowledge Management definition

Everyone has their own definition of Knowledge Management. From last night's KM Forum with Matt Moore:

"Knowledge Management is people communicating with each other about what they do, so they can do it better."

Or something like that anyway. And don't assume that communication equals technology.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Second Life: The Demo

This is great, if you haven't tried Second Life now you'll know why I was a little bored in there...

Debating disastrous KM experiences

I've commented a couple of times on posts by Paula Thornton in the FAST Forward blog, so it was great to see her drop by the ChiefTech blog to challenge me a little on my own thinking about the success of knowledge management (KM). Paula asks:

"Have you had to 'live' inside of any organization that had a KM effort/group? Mine have all been disastrous experiences. Read: A total waste of corporate dollars, for the implementation and the negative impact on productivity."

Firstly, I haven't just consulted to organisations about information and knowledge management, but worked as employee in government and professional services areas in information/knowledge management roles (my experiences at Ernst & Young are well documented). Unlike Paula, my experiences were mostly positive and the successes have helped to shape my thinking of what knowledge management is really about, the role of information technology and how it can contribute to an organisation and the people who work in them (productivity being just one dimension of the contribution it can make).

Its hard to comment further because the devil is in the detail... so some probing questions to Paula (and anyone else with a bad experience of KM):

  • What made your experience disastrous?
  • Why was so much money spent on your KM initiative, and on what aspects?
  • Why did it have an negative impact on productivity? Was productivity one of the measures of such? Was it the only measure?
  • What specific business problem or strategy did it try to support (if any)?

And in the spirit of Voltaire, its great to have some different views on this topic! So let the real Enterprise 2.0 debate begin... tell me what you really think (I would also love to see any relevant links to interesting blogs posts about the future of KM and the relationship between KM and Enterprise 2.0).

Internal blogging is just one example of open information sharing inside an organisation

Linking to Seven Reasons for Your Company to Start an Internal Blog on, Jack Vinson reflects on a separate discussion about the value of blogging to knowledge management:

"In a recent discussion on the ACT-KM discussion list, someone mentioned that blogging is just one means of communication - that it isn't the be-all, end-all of knowledge sharing.  I like this reminder because promoters tend to fall all over themselves with fantastic claims.  On the other side, blogging provides a means of communication that people may need and don't currently have within their organization."

Good point, Jack. This also reminds me of some points I've made in the past about how blogs can be used in many different ways, and not just for knowledge sharing - I brainstormed a number of different ways a blogging can be used:

  • Data and information broadcasting
  • WCMS replacement
  • Journals
  • Groupware 2.0
  • One-To-Many blogging
  • Social blogging

With this in mind, I was also interested by this comment from Dennis McDonald on the article, who is currently researching the use of blogs in project management, and says:

"After doing just a few interviews I'm finding a wide range of perceptions. Some are using them as lightweight content management tools, some are using them as portals to organize access to and views of a variety of other tools, and others think they are inappropriate given they lack the structure and formality of dedicated PM tools. While I haven't yet conducted enough interviews to support any real conclusions, 'reduction in email' is the most concrete benefit mentioned so far."

Maybe not a ground breaking reason for internal blogging, but if all we achieved with blogs is a reduction in email then I'd take that. However, I would still question if its blogging as such that provides this benefit or is it simply the action of providing open access to information (rather than the means of doing it). For example, I pointed recently to JP Rangaswami's approach to open email. I would also suggest that those that have never had access to platforms that enable open information sharing, would see this as revolutionary whilst those that have, might only see it as evolutionary - see my post from a few days ago about the future Enterprise 2.0.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Not at Enterprise 2.0 - Wikis and Signatures of Online Behaviour

I've given up reading all the excellent coverage of the Enterprise 2.0 Conference, which is telling me a lot about what has happened (thanks everyone who is there in person) but it isn't actually informing my thinking in this space (actually, that's not strictly true as this is a good post by Miguel Cornejo Castro).

Some interesting non-Enterprise 2.0 Conference posts this morning are:

  • Luis reporting on a session by Ann Majchrzak at a Knowledge Management conference he attended about wikis - "Ann put together some really nice, brief and straight forward background as to what wikis are, how they operate and how different organisations are starting making heavy use of them. Yes, one of the reasons why I really enjoyed Ann’s pitch was the fact that she was using concrete real examples of how businesses are already making use of wikis"; and
  • On the Smart Mobs blog, an overview of some research into Researching Online Social Roles by Structural Signature Visualization Method - a bit of a tongue twister I know, but they think this could provide a model for predicting online social behaviour.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

You're all completely wrong

That's right - you're all completely wrong about the future of Enteprise 2.0. I haven't even had a chance to watch the recording of the debate Webcast, but I know this is true. Well, except maybe for Euan.

As I was reading a summary from Michael about the Instant Messaging stream at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference (Michael is providing great coverage BTW) my immediate thought was what on earth does this have to do with Enterprise 2.0? Now it looks like Jevon MacDonald was having similar thoughts and has declared:

"This conference has made it painfully clear that the term Enterprise 2.0 has no discernible value at all. The label simply means everything and nothing all at once. It has become a something that people want to add to their recipes."

Actually, I don't know why he is surprised - in fact what we should be interested in is speed at which we (or some of us) have come to the Trough of Disillusionment in the hype cycle around Enterprise 2.0.

I'll try to explain why I think everyone is wrong about what has happened to Enterprise 2.0 and where it is going:

Firstly, its not a question of revolutionary or evolutionary. We have to understand how different people have arrived at this point of what is really a convergence of ideas and technologies with diverse origins. For example Michael (sorry, I'm not picking on you!) and others are quite right that Lotus Notes has rich heritage of collaboration - in fact I laughed quietly when the Atlassian demo at Web 2.0 in Australia showed something that Lotus Notes users have been doing for a long time (sharing notes about a conference they attended and allowing people to respond with comments). But we can't assume that new Web 2.0 wave of developers and users share those same experiences - as a result they are coming up with new and often improved versions of old solutions. It doesn't mean we have to dump the old stuff either, and it has a lot to teach us too.

Secondly, I agree that software vendors and less well informed consultants are jumping on the bandwagon. But to be fair, I think enterprise users are equally to blame by adopting Web 2.0 technologies as information management tools, rather than engaging them as true Enterprise 2.0 facilitators. There is nothing wrong with that, but its confusing for everyone when we talk about Web 2.0, Social Software, Social Media, Enterprise Web 2.0, Enterprise Social Software and Enterprise 2.0 all in the same breath. Of course, one of the reasons people are jumping on the bandwagon of using Web 2.0 technologies inside the firewall is that they offer an easier way of providing simple information systems that can tackle the needs of complex, networked and emergent business environments. So what ever happens, however we use them and what ever we call it, this is still a good thing. And won't it be good if the existing big enterprise software vendors introduce Web 2.0 or Web 2.0 inspired features into their products?

Well, right now I think the biggest challenge to Enterprise 2.0 is that we have got a bit confused about what it means. Beyond this the biggest challenge to large organisations using Web 2.0 technologies is that it either they won't scale in a useful way or that the benefits of the Web 2.0 approach will be lost as we adapt it to the enterprise environment. Unfortunately the big enterprise software vendors could really drop the ball in this space.

To avoid this just don't forget these two rules:

  1. Enterprise 2.0 is about people PLUS free form information management technology (Web 2.0 is good for this, but remember SLATES) - you can't have one with out the other.
  2. Web 2.0 is all about small bits, loosely connected - but it can be hard to keep it simple.

Easy isn't?

Ok, now tell me I'm wrong :-)

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Sitting on the fence

I haven't had a chance to watch the recording of the Davenport and McAfee debate, but the commentary so far is giving me some indication of what happened. Apparently it was all very friendly :-)

Michael Sampson responds to Andrew McAfee's own reflections on the debate, and concludes that there is:

"amble evidence that there are pre-existing technologies that deliver what Andrew says Enterprise 2.0 'is the first to do' ... technologies that have been around for 15 years. My view is in line with Tom's view ... Enterprise 2.0 is merely the latest expression of various technology constructs that have been in other tools for a long time."

On the other hand Dennis Howlett comments:

"while I agree we’re at the very early stages of adoption, that’s not to say they’re a fad or an extension of what’s gone before. The new technologies are allowing us to think about how we collaborate, in what context and around which information. I was part of an analyst panel in 2001 where we discussed new ways to collaborate. At the time we had to acknowledge the tools didn’t exist - or at least not at a price point people would pay. And even then we could not have imagined the potential we see today. That has changed dramatically in the last couple of years. As has ease of use."

What do I think? For the moment I'm still sitting on the fence, but I'll post some specific comments soon...

Monday, 18 June 2007

Dear Facebook, Australia is a big place

I've only just joined Facebook, following a contact from an old friend in the UK. But like Jon Udell and Euan, one of my first observations was about the limited categories on offer to explain how I know someone. The other one is that the whole of Australia gets lumped under the "Australia" network while Canada, the UK and the US get to pick a city. Now, Australia might not have the population but Perth is a b****y long way from Wollongong, mate.

I suppose it could be worse, they might think Australia and New Zealand are the same or that Canberra is the capital of Austria. Don't laugh, it has happened...

Victim of My Own Cosmos?

I suddenly noticed that My Cosmos feed had gone silent...

At first I thought perhaps I had been a victim of my own success - I know from testing the Pipe during development that when I tried to create a feed from some of the really popular blogs they gave it a bit of a headache; but I was sure I had put some limits in the API query to deal with that. And, I'm not quite that popular either!

However, a quick bit of trouble shooting returned me to the Technorati API itself, which rather unhelpfully reported:

<error>Sorry, we've turned off support for type=weblog for maintenance. Please check back in a few days.</error>

I hope this isn't permanent :-(

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Please hold for Knowledge Network

With the announcement that Microsoft Sharepoint's Knowledge Network technical preview is closed, it looks like for the moment that IBM Lotus and some of the other portal players still have the advantage in terms of providing an enterprise social software suite - Mike Gotta comments:

"It will be interesting to see how Microsoft is able to respond to organizations interested in social software ("Enterprise 2.0") given the delay in KN. In MOSS 2007, I find that the blog support is not all that great, the wiki support does not seem better than leading wiki-specific vendors, there is no tag/social bookmark support directly (there is a third-party add-on), and no XML syndication feed server. There is also not all that much in the way of social networking support"

Some how I doubt that this will have a major impact on the adoption of Microsoft Sharepoint - afterall, organisations aren't choosing Sharepoint primarily it for its social software capabilities. But not only, as Gotta suggests, will there be "numerous smaller vendors that have the opportunity to gain some market attention", but for those shops who are tied to an Microsoft-based intranet play they will continue to experience tension between their technology strategy and their user community's wants while this vacuum continues. In a comment on the MSDN Knowledge Network blog someone complains:

"I was under the impression that it would be released as an RTW - I have a major bank in Australia waiting on the RTW so they can roll it out across their 15000 staff as part of their Sharepoint implementation. I'm also giving a demo of the KN in July at a SharePoint User group. Based on your response, I may have to cancel that presentation."

Whoops... despite Microsoft's assurances, will Knowledge Network turn out to be vapourware and how does this reflect on their credentials in this space?

Saturday, 16 June 2007

David Allen on Web 2.0: Turn those things off

In this interview in CIO Insight, productivity consultant David Allen talks about advances in workplace information technologies and the impact on personal productivity, including Web 2.0:

"Web 2.0: Information Overload? So how can an organization exploit Web 2.0 technologies like blogs, wikis and social networking to improve personal and organizational productivity?

I'm not kidding—one of the best ways is to turn those things off. I am always curious as to why people have time to blog to begin with. I understand there's a lot of value to the information in these things, but what do we do with that information? The great hope of a lot of technology is the ability to glean best practices and share them efficiently so people aren't reinventing the wheel. But I have probably thrown away more Lotus Notes databases than we have staff simply because what you think is the way you want to slice and dice information can morph very rapidly."

Actually, he makes some good points about Web 2.0 and social software but just remember the conversation is bounded in the context of personal productivity and information management.

BTW Is it just me, but when ever I hear someone mention David Allen I always think of Dave Allen first. Hmm, I wonder if David has an opinion on how humour reduces or improves productivity?

Thanks for the laughs, Paula

I think I've covered the relationship between Knowledge Management and Enterprise 2.0 already and also Next Generation KM, but Paula Thornton is trying to stir things up again...

"My last post about 2.0 being the antithesis of 'managing knowledge' struck a tender nerve or two based on the comments received. This raises an interesting perspective to barriers for 2.0 thinking: people have a tendency to view new things with old mindsets."

Thornton continues on to discuss why the issue of Enterprise 2.0 is a design thinking problem.

Going back to her original post, I find this sort of thing is always good for a laugh:

"Am I the only one who understands the basic logic here? What reasonable business goal would suggest a need to manage knowledge? The goal is not to manage knowledge but to facilitate action or enhance thinking. Even more fundamental to the deeper philosophy here is that knowledge is relevant…it can only reasonably be applied to specific conditions. Few knowledge management technologies embrace this reality and ensure that the relevant conditions are captured and likewise communicated."

I can tell exactly where this is going because in the end the argument really comes out as one about philosophy (really more like Epistemology) versus Management (the actKM forum has been arguing about this for years, so don't expect an answer soon). But while this is long standing debate, fundamentally I think the issue here is that Thornton has a limited concept of Knowledge Management that is stuck in the first generation, which is an old mindset (or maybe she just hasn't been around Knowledge Management long enough to get bored of talking philosophy).

BTW I'm not sure if 4 comments can be defined as touching a raw nerve - she should have said something nasty about Lotus Notes in her argument to see what touching a raw nerve is like ;-) Sorry, just trying to stir things up a little...

Thursday, 14 June 2007

What do hampsters know about email?

I found this new book on managing email today, called The Hamster Revolution, co-authored by the guy behind the One Minute Manager and a co-author of Who Moved My Cheese?

Now I'm a little biased because I'm not a real fan of the Who Moved My Cheese? style, but there are still some good ideas in this book. Probably the best is their COTA (Clients, Outputs, Team and Administration) model that provides a folder scheme and prioritisation method for filing email (and other documents).

However, the Who Moved My Cheese style makes it very simplistic and I think the main criticism I have while flicking through this book is that it doesn't appear to address what I consider to be one of the fundamental issues of information overload, selecting and using the right communication tool for the job. However, it does at least take you through a process of looking at how well your team uses email, which is another issue I consider important.

BTW If this book doesn't suit your needs or you are looking for additional ideas, there is plenty of free advice and tools on this topic out there including my own article on the subject.

Next Monday: Davenport and McAfee Debate E2.0

As a special free sideshow to the Enterprise 2.0 conference taking place in the US next week, Susan Scrupski has helped to organise a debate between Tom "Old Skool" Davenport and Andrew "E2.0" McAfee. The best thing about it, in true Web 2.0 style, is that if you can't make it in person they are streaming a Webcast that will also be available for download later (which is great for those of us down under, as 10am Boston time is midnight here).

So far McAfee has been very friendly about the whole thing, but secretly I think we hope that they bring back the biff ;-) I've also done my part to add some fuel to this fire too by referencing some of Davenport's recent comments back to some of his earlier work. See Bill Ives' response to this too.

See Susan Scrupski's blog for the latest details on the debate taking place next Monday (18th June).

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Collaboration challenges and success factors

I was reminded by Thomas Purves' post on collaboration (where he presents three factors for effectiveness: opportunity, willingness and efficiency) of a training package I once put together about issues in managing remote teams.

In this training package I presented a couple of models includes two that addressed similar concerns. This first addressed the challenges of collaboration in remote teams:

  1. Willingness to collaborate (driver by a combination of necessity and opportunity);
  2. That all the people involved have the right collaboration skills; and
  3. Having access to and selecting the right information and communication technologies (ICT).

I then used a another three point model to talk about the critical success factors for creating a sustainable virtual team:

  1. Control - does the team have a clear sense of direction and progress towards their objective; 
  2. Enabling Resources - this includes providing people with time to collaborate, funding for travel when required, people to provide support and also the right work environment and facilities, etc; and
  3. Communications - extra effort is required to supplement the social capital that is created naturally in a co-located team through a combination of formal and informal communication.

Underlying these challenges and critical success factors was the point that all these issues that can be managed, but often required forward planning (through a start-up or refresh process for existing remote teams). Some of these ideas are reflected in my article looking at HR's role in virtualised organisations - and in that respect I don't agree with Purves' assertion that:

"Traditionally IT has focused on doing a really good job at #3 (not that there isn’t still room for improvement in this area alone). Meanwhile, the softer human elements of 1,2 has been left to the fuzzy world of HR."

Unfortunately I've never seen HR take ownership of this issue at a tactical level, which was one of the drivers for putting this training together in the first place. BTW The training package itself was delivered as teletraining, the idea being that the training approach in itself was designed to show that with a bit of planning it was still possible to achieve a quality training outcome using just a slide deck and a teleconference.

Does EditGrid provide mashing for beginners?

I've talked a few times about mashing, superusers and spreadsheets. Now I've discovered EditGrid, which might give a glimpse into what a Web-enabled, spreadsheet-based mashing solution for the average user might look like. The kiler-app in this case is what EditGrid call Remote Data.

The example they provide shows a built-in function to pull live stock quotes into a spreadsheet, but Remote Data is quite capable of pulling in a URL and then you can in theory manipulate that data with cell functions. Unfortunately what it appears to lack is native functions to parse HTML or XML data, or macros. However, EditGrid does provide an API so the potential to extend its Remote Data capabilities are endless.

BTW EditGrid has some other great features to check out, and certainly raises the bar in terms of what a Web 2.0 spreadsheet solution should look like.

So, which approach is likely to win in terms of providing mashing capabilities for the average user - drag and drop GUI or a next generation Web 2.0 era spreadsheet?

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Coupled Resonant Objects

I don't really know much about Tesla (ok, I admit it - my total sum knowledge in this area comes from watching The Prestige), but this research into wireless electricity from MIT is apparently something new, as unlike Tesla's work, "WiTricity is based on using coupled resonant objects."


What this means in simple terms is that unlike past wireless electricity technologies, WiTricity doesn't require the objects involved to be near each other or in line of site. Its also efficient because the sending power source and receiving power consuming device are tuned to each other. In one example they describe, a laptop could operate and recharge from anywhere with a wireless electricity supply - or maybe we could ditch the battery altogether.

Now, how's that for a potentially disruptive technology? There is only one problem I can see, controlling and paying for access to the power source...

Monday, 11 June 2007

Blogging redefined in under 140 characters

OMG I'm so, like, yesterday.

It looks like I'm part of that small niche of laggards who to still bother to write more than 140 characters in a blog post - from BusinessWeek:

"Eric Case, product manager for Google's Blogger hosting service... says, the concept of blogging is already evolving. 'This thing we understood as blogging is vanishing and it is reframing as people develop new ways of posting and sharing things.'"

(Care of SmartMobs)

Actually, I think this is more about the economics of participation in social media - a natural progression with a 1% core in the middle.

I do wonder, if we won't see twittering and moblogging in turn replaced by some kind of automated or semi-automated life feed that will reduce the barrier of participation even further?

Whoops. There I go. Did again, that nearly 750 characters. When will I ever learn...

Sunday, 10 June 2007


So far I've managed to avoid getting sucked in by Twitter (I spend enough time blogging, let alone twittering) but finally decided to take at look the 3D virtual world, Secondlife. I know I should have just listened to Matt... there was curious interest at first, but that quickly turned to, well, boredom.

Yes, I can see the potential for virtual events. marketing, meetings, tourism, even virtual product development and perhaps e-commerce. However, the graphics and the overall experience still need to get a whole lot better - if you've played a games console lately, then this isn't an unreasonable expectation. But other than that, as a 3D chat room Secondlife gets a bit tedious. It also makes for a terrible 3D information discovery space.

Of course, adding support for voice might make a difference - but I wonder how people are going to match what they sound like, to how they look?

And its not just Matt and me who think Secondlife lacks that spark. Google around and you'll find people like Alan Graham, who on the ZDNet blogs previously commented:

"I really want to like Second Life. Alternate reality is something I've dreamt of since I read my first Philip K. Dick book when I was a teenager. But it currently lacks an emotional quality, and that keeps me disconnected from it."

(Actually, if you're looking for fiction in this space, check out Feersum Endjinn by Iain Banks)

Of course, these aren't the only virtual worlds in town - the Virtual World's Review site is currently on hold, but lists 28 different virtual worlds catalogued between 2003 and 2006. Don't forget World of Warcraft either. More recent developments include IMVU or MyMiniLife, I can see why others would prefer these over something like Secondlife as at least there appears to be stronger social networking link back to the real world.

Still, we should keep an eye on where Secondlife and these other virtual worlds are going. BTW the Secondlife research blog looks like it could be a great resource for tracking developments in this space.

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Enterprise 2.0? Find a friendly geek in IT first

One of the other conversation threads at Web 2.0 in Australia was about the state of Enterprise 2.0 in Australia. Brad Howarth, a freelance business and technology journalist, who was a panelist at Web 2.0 in Australia commented that while researching an article recently, he had some difficultly finding local examples of Web 2.0 inside the firewall.

While grabbing some lunch I mentioned to Brad that I understood why he found it difficult, as I assured him they were there but they aren't just being talked about - typically because they are still under the radar experiments (I've certainly called something a "pilot" in order to get an internal blog started with no questions asked) or a perhaps a deliberate attempt at a grass roots initiative

Reflecting on this issue a little further, within large Australian organisations at least, I would suggest that if you want to do something with Web 2.0 technology inside the firewall then it really helps to either be in the IT department or to have a friend who works there. I say this because I've yet to find an example where someone has implemented a Web 2.0 without either the help or approval of the IT department. In fact, even where a Web 2.0 tool - like a wiki - is running in classic grass roots fashion on a desktop PC under someone's desk, its under the desk of someone in IT! So much for the Aussie she'll be right, mate attitude, but then it was pointed out at Web 2.0 in Australia that the business community here really is quite risk adverse and conservative.

However, the tide may be turning on that front. Someone else commented at Web 2.0 in Australia about the 12-18 month time lag between what happens in the US and here in Australia. Right now I think Australia is only just entering that catch up phase. Evidence of that for me is that in the last few months I've had more serious conversations about Web 2.0, wikis, blogs and RSS with people working in organisations than I've had in the last two years!

Of course while this trend might raise the pressure to either implement or at least try to apply Web 2.0 internally, I suspect the IT department is still likely to play a role in Web 2.0 innovation. Particularly as the timing of this change in attitude also coincides with the release of a whole new suite of enterprise Web 2.0 inspired technologies, so there may be less of an reason to look at Web 2.0 solutions from the consumer world. It will interesting to see how this plays out.

For the moment the lesson is: If you aren't in the IT department and want to get started with Enterprise Web 2.0 or Enterprise 2.0 then you better find yourself a friendly geek first.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Here at Web 2.0 Australia Today

I did try live blogging today, but I couldn't get the wifi working and then I decided it was a little rude to start typing anyway! While there were mixture of serious looking suits and appropriately dressed Web 2.0 geeks (no offence, but you know the look), I'm not sure how many live bloggers were in the room.

I'm not going to attempt a full summary now, but I did just want to mention that Ross needs to be congratulated pulling the day together and with such an interesting mix of people. Just on my table we had people representing the media, marketing, banking, government and also a start up (M'tomic).

As well as hearing from BEA about their enterprise mashing platform, we heard from five local startups - Atlassian, Gnoos, Omnidrive, Scouta and Tangler (what are you waiting for, go check them out!). The dunce cap goes to Telstra unfortunately, but in this case what gets said in the room, stays in the room :-(

Some key points I hope to get back and comment on are:

  • What do we all think we mean by Web 2.0, as we jumped between talking about what I think of as a mix of Web 2.0, Enterprise Web 2.0 and also Enterprise 2.0 (Ross' Web 2.0 Framework addresses this in terms of "Open Web" and "Enterprise", but I think this is just scratching the surface).
  • How can more Aussie start ups build on the opportunities Web 2.0 is presenting? Some of this concerns business models and strategy, but also what impact do constraints like the state of the broadband network have on building something that will be successful.

Also, included in the handouts, an interesting piece of research by the Smart Internet Technology CRC on Second Life (PDF), written from an Australian business perspective. I noticed there is also some research on digital lifestyles (PDF) too that looks interesting.

The only down point of the day was that I didn't get to say hello or talk to Richard from Read/WriteWeb. However, it was good to put a face to a name from the blogosphere.

Phew. That's all for now.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

From ODBC to Mashing

Mark Bower has written a couple of interesting posts about the origins of mashing, the first referencing a earlier post of mine about spreadsheets. Bower says:

"James Dellow wrote last week on spreadsheets as an early mashup tool.  I totally agree, and I don't think it was the first.  Before RSS and web services provided a standard way to access data, ODBC was the defacto mechanism inside enterprises. In my book, Access predates Excel as an enterprise mashup tool.  Information Workers truly embraced this, taking data sources from around their org, and pulling them together to create their own personal applications.

If anything Access was too successful, and in the post-millennium bug world, IT departments rushed to make their infrastructure more manageable by consolidating some solutions in centrally managed and hosted services, or mandating that these databases be removed.  Access was then frequently removed from the standard desktop deployment of Office."

Great point about MS Access! I think similar comments can be said about Lotus Notes too.

Today Bower has also offered a list of what makes a good mashing tool:

  • Ability to get data from a variety of different data sources/services;
  • Ability to aggregate and manipulate data;
  • Ability to visualise data;
  • Ability to create no-code mashups;
  • Ability to create shareable solutions; and
  • Ability to create mashups that can be used as building blocks in other mashups.

If I could add one more point then it would be something along the lines that mashups should allow real people to solve real world problems quickly.

BTW I used Excel to access the Technorati API... actually, that reminds that Google really should think about integrating Google Sheets with their new mashup editor. There's life in the ol'spreadsheet yet you know.

IE6's Got Those Google Gears Blues...

As I always feared, in the quest for rich Internet applications and offline we have forgotten the very problem that Web-based applications were supposed to solve... instant access, no software to install, compatibility across different systems...

I couldn't resist any longer and installed Google Gears into IE6 and now Google Reader is broken. I'm not completely alone with this issue. Now I'm in control panel of all places to remove this beastie from IE6 and Google Gears is telling me I need to restart my computer :-(

This isn't how the Web 2.0 world is supposed to work, is it? Perhaps it will be better when offline is native in the browser? I hope so.

(Yes, I could upgrade IE6 - but that's the point isn't it)

Monday, 4 June 2007

Do I need to get out more?

Serendipity is a great thing, but it works in mysterious ways and I'm wondering if its trying to tell me something?

According to the trends in Google Reader, My Cosmos Feed is now my own most popular feed - I'm seriously thinking of dumping some of my single blog feeds because it duplicates a lot of them anyway (or perhaps I should just filter them out?). Meanwhile over at LinkedIn I answered a question and found out that the world isn't so small after all - I pointed them in the direction of someone they were already working closely with...

Do I need to get out more? :-)

Don't get 2.0 "Slap Happy"

On Wednesday I'm off to hear and chat about Web 2.0. However, lets not forget there are differences between the 2.0 and its all to easy to talk about 2.0 this and 2.0 that without thinking about the differences (something I'd never do of course). Mike Wagner on the JackBe blog has a go at teasing out the differences and points out that with Enterprise Web 2.0:

"simply ‘slapping’ these technologies into a rooted organization will not bring about the same successes and value that Web 2.0 apps have enjoyed in the public domain."

JackBe sell commercial enterprise mashing tools, so its good to see these guys showing how aware they are of the differences in the 2.0s.

Environmentally Sustainable IT

We are approaching another federal government election in Australia, and today one of the hot pre-election topics is climate change. Coincidentally I was browsing through the May/June 2007 edition of Image & Data Manager magazine today and noticed that they had a special feature on environmentally sustainable IT.

A quick google around and I find that Gartner is currently leading (or perhaps fuelling?) interest in green IT by putting the blame for 2% of global CO2 emissions on the door step of the ICT industry:

"CO2 emissions that ICT is responsible for includes the in-use phase of PCs, servers, cooling, fixed and mobile telephony, local area network (LAN), office telecommunications and printers. Gartner has also included an estimate of the embodied (that used in design, manufacture and distribution) energy in large-volume devices, namely PCs and cell phones."

CSC (my current employer) have a study tour later in the year looking at green IT - they describe the issue this way:

"The high cost of energy, the threat of global warming, and rising societal pressures will eventually force just about every firm to take a hard look at its environmental impact. Effective IT leadership will be essential if companies are to improve and demonstrate Corporate Social Responsibility in areas such as power and cooling systems, office design, PC and paper recycling, production and supply chain efficiencies, air travel, telecommuting, employee cooperation, measurements, and regulatory compliance."

BTW The closing date for study tour registrations is 12 October.

More on E&Y's approach to KM

I know there is always interest in Ernst & Young's approach to KM, so I keep my eyes open for new articles and case studies that are available in the public domain - here are two more:

  • InsideKnowledge magazine interviewed Shirely Jackson, a UK-based director in the Ernst & Young Center for Business Knowledge in 2004.
  • This paper from the 12th annual conference of INFORUM in 2006 is written in Czech, but has lots of screenshots. The presentation that goes with it is in english so it might give you a few clues too.

You can read more about E&Y's approach to KM in these papers and articles.

WOW!s and the Whoooaaahhhh!

There have been a lot of interesting new technology announcements and tools I've discovered recently. I mentioned Microsoft's Surface last week,  but this MS experimental tool is even more exciting (from a Web 2.0 point of view) - Photosynth (care of Luis and I agree about the WOW!s and the Whoooaaahhhh!s factor). I didn't try to install Photosynth, but check out the videos to get a feel of what its all about. Also have a look at the Photo Tourism project site at the University of Washington, as Photosynth is based on their research.

And what do Google Gears and Palm's new Foleo have in common? Well everyone is talking about them, but not everyone is convinced about where these technologies are going. But good luck to them I say :-)

Actually, the bit I don't get is why you want to sync the Foleo with your phone, when surely I should sync everything via the cloud, or P2P if the cloud isn't available? Think about that, a mobile computing device based entirely on a Rich Internet Application (RIA) framework. That would be WOW! (Maybe that is Palm's secret plan?)

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Windows Live Writer has been updated

I'm a fan of Windows Live Writer and it has recently received a make over. I've literally just installed it, so I'm still checking out the interface, which is little different both in terms of colour scheme but it also looks like there are some new options and features to explore.

I'm also going to try out Graham's dictionary hack, as Australian is still closer to Pommie English (well, at least the way I try to spell).

The only thing I don't like is software that tries to change my settings... so when you're installing don't forget to uncheck the home page and search options during the install. Bad, WLW!

Looking forward to Web 2.0 in Australia

As I'm constantly hearing about different social media events taking places in North America and Europe, I'm excited to say that on Wednesday this coming week I'm spending part of the day in Sydney to attend Ross Dawson's Web 2.0 in Australia event, which is now way over booked (but you can still meet for drinks later). One of the highlights will be to meet Richard MacManus from Read/WriteWeb, and of course have the chance to talk to lots of people who are already interested in Web 2.0 and those that want to learn more about it. There is also a nice connection with Wollongong, as Omnidrive is one of the startups being showcased (BTW I'm now using Omnidrive to host my published articles).

However, the main reason for this post is to highlight Ross' new Web 2.0 Framework that he published late last week. The part that grabbed my attention most is the list of characteristics:

  • Participation - Every aspect of Web 2.0 is driven by participation;
  • Standards - an essential platform for Web 2.0;
  • Decentralization - Web 2.0 is decentralized in its architecture, participation, and usage;
  • Openness - The world of Web 2.0 has only become possible through a spirit of openness whereby developers and companies provide open, transparent access to their applications and content;
  • Modularity - Web 2.0 is the antithesis of the monolothic;
  • User Control - A primary direction of Web 2.0 is for users to control the content they create, the data captured about their web activities, and their identity; and
  • Identity - Identity is a critical element of both Web 2.0 and the future direction of the Internet.

I also like this summary from the framework, that Web 2.0 is "Distributed technologies built to integrate, that collectively transform mass participation into valuable emergent outcomes", but probably because it reminds me of the classic small pieces, loosely joined idea but with a little more teeth ;-)

Look out for post-event report later in the week.