Wednesday 31 January 2007

Don't be shy - what are your ideas on adopting Enterprise 2.0?

There is now a series of responses on the FASTForward Blog to the tips for adopting Enterprise 2.0 challenge from James Robertson that I inspired with my Chicken AND Egg post - read the suggestions from Jim McGee, Bill Ives, Euan Semple, Kathleen Gilroy and Jerry Bowles. UPDATE: See also George Dearing and Dana Gardner.

Its also nice see other bloggers adding there own ideas, including Mike Gotta and now "Wiki Evangelist" Stewart Mader, blogging on the Atlassian blog.

So, as Mader asks on his home blog, don't be shy - what are YOUR ideas on adopting Enterprise 2.0?

Explosion of electronic touch points

I received an email today from someone and, as you typically find in a business email, the sender's signature block included their contact details. What interested me this morning were the 6 different contact methods listed - they included (in this order):

  • Telephone
  • Mobile
  • E-mail
  • Skype
  • Second Life
  • Blog (internal)

The other day I also noticed another user had these 5 options:

  • Mobile
  • Telephone
  • Email
  • Web
  • Blog (external/personal)

I wonder how social networking sites, customer relationship management systems and other address book tools are keeping up with this explosion of electronic touch points? Neither person listed a physical address or a fax number (however, their traditional and email contact details hinted where they might be - i.e which country).

I'd like to know: What do you list on your email signature? What contact methods are most important to you? Why do you decide to list one but not the other?

Tuesday 30 January 2007

RSS Readers - inside vs outside the firewall

The other week Read/WriteWeb ran a survey that asked, "What type of RSS Reader do you use the most?"

At the close of the poll, 52% of the 1,187 people who answered the survey said that they mostly used a Web-based RSS Reader. Following in a poor second place were Desktop readers (19%), while Email-based clients ranked lower than other Web-based options. And as one commenter pointed out, Web-based options are the most popular (76% at final count).

However, I tend to agree with this comment from Mike Gotta (again):

"There are some influencing factors to consider. Desktop RSS readers are not always free, some of those that are free are add-ins to Outlook which is not as popular in the consumer space as it would within a corporate environment.

The results make sense for consumer use. Enterprise use I imagine would be different - as adoption grows behind the firewall, I would expect to see IE7 and Outlook pop up a lot more."

I'd add that another reason that externally hosted Web-based RSS Readers are popular is that people are currently reading external content and at work a Web-based client is the only option available - once (or if) internal content becomes available in the form of RSS, the results of such a poll might be different.

I would also consider that usability of the individual RSS Reader is also important. For example, I'm currently using Microsoft's Windows Live Writer to put this post together - before that I've used lots of different interfaces to my blog, but right now this fat client interface is my favourite until something better comes along.

Enterprise 2.0 is in the eye of the beholder

Away from the FASTforward blog, Mike Gotta has contributed his own 5 tips - echoing Euan's concerns, Gotta suggests (with a warning) that we should:

"Define what Enterprise 2.0 means for you: I often feel like we're back in the nineties debating what Knowledge Management is or is not. To overstate the issue - it really doesn't matter what I think E2.0 is or what some other pundit, expert or analyst thinks it is -- or is not. What matters most is for an organization to take ownership of the term and define for itself what Enterprise 2.0 means based on its own structural dynamics, culture, institutions, market pressures, human capital needs and so on. There is no universal truth here (perhaps some common scaffolding but no complete right or wrong). By taking ownership of the term, it allows people within an organization to put Enterprise 2.0 into a context that they can understand and relate to it in terms of change management, transformation complexity, risks and opportunities and so forth."

Good point, particularly as most people can't even agree on what Web 2.0 means either so we have a long way to go in getting consensus on Enterprise 2.0.

Conscientious Objector

Following on from the initial challenge, here are responses from Euan Semple, Gerry Dowles (sic) Jerry Bowles and Kathleen Gilroy.

Euan thinks he failed in the challenge, but actually provides a good argument against coming up with a formula for Enterprise 2.0:

"I was wary about getting involved because there is a real risk of Enterprise 2.0 turning into a 'thing' and a thing that can be done correctly or incorrectly with a whole load of people telling you what correct is. This IMHO is not good and is what led to KM disappearing up its own proverbial and being devalued...

...If I had a list of five things that I’d suggest people do there would only be one - don’t do what people tell you to do. Do what makes sense, do what works and do what you have the energy to sustain in the face of the considerable challenges that will be thrown before you. By all means have conversations with people who have been around and seen and done related things and who are happy to have interesting conversations with you but that is it. No formulas and no experts."

Monday 29 January 2007

The FASTforward blog challenge: 5 tips for gaining adoption of enterprise 2.0

Fellow Aussie, James Robertson, has provided a solid response on the FASTforward Blog to my Chicken AND egg post and also laid down a challenge to the other conference bloggers:

"James is right. While we’ve been writing some good stuff, we’ve not yet engaged in a meaningful conversation to hammer out some consensus approaches. Instead, we’ve all be writing from our philosophical 'corners' (including me).

So in the spirit of 'walking the walk', I hereby challenge everyone posting on this blog to publish their list of 5 tips for gaining adoption of enterprise 2.0, both at the organisational and individual level."

Lets see what happens next...

Saturday 27 January 2007

It is the Chicken AND egg: Enterprise 2.0

Normally I'm fan of group blogs but so far the FastForward blog (promoting a conference by the same name*) has been a little disappointing - and I should say that this is nothing against the individual bloggers as such, since I know some of them and a few are on my blogroll already. So far, for the wrong reasons, the only post that has engaged my attention is Jevon MacDonald who attempts to answer the question “who can help my company adopt some of these new ideas and technologies that we are hearing about“?

In a list of tips he proposes that:

"There are two conversations going on right now, one about Technology, and one about a Business Ideology. If technology isn’t your thing, then start moving forward with new business ideas and the right technology will emerge, and if you are pegged as a technology person then start opening up the world of low cost options to your colleagues."

James Robertson posted a follow up to Macdonald and also suggests that "Enterprise 2.0 is about taking a new perspective on the organisation, not on a set of technologies" and the first steps should be to focus on people and business needs.

To me, this is approach of one or the other is a mistake. As in the old chicken and egg problem, the trick to Enterprise 2.0 is all about dealing with both sides of the equation at the same time. For example if we look at the wiki case studies so far in this space, such as Motorola, they make it look like it is very easy to introduce enterprise social software. But a survey last year also suggested that other organisations were finding it more difficult - key take aways for me from that survey were:

  • The main reason affecting the choice of a wiki clearly is the simplicity of use and implementation. The expense is only a very small factor.
  • The main problem is the lack of participation of the intended users. Almost half of the participants had to deal with this problem at least temporarily. Thus the encouragement of the employees is an important item to add to the success of the wiki.

Clearly some organisations - the "early adopters" - are going to find it very easy to make the evolution to Enterprise 2.0 where there is already a good fit between the technology and business culture. For these organisations, they never even asked where to start - they just did it. But for others its going to take some work to level the ground between the two. My feeling is that if you focus on one or the other, while you'll see change, you won't necessarily end up with Enterprise 2.0 (to understand what I mean, particularly from the technology side, refer to my earlier posts about the grey area of social software, defining Enterprise 2.0 and why "super users" are the new programmers).

I also think there is an important omission in MacDonald's list of recommended reading - he includes McAfee's recent IT piece in HBR but not his original SMR Enterprise 2.0 article, which introduces the SLATES concept and starts you thinking about some of the management issues that introducing Enterprise 2.0 creates.

*PS I guess that no publicity is bad publicity...

Rapidly cruising through all sorts of variations

Brian Mulloy, CEO & Cofounder of Swivel. commented on my post about social data analysis and I think it worth pulling up in a new post an excerpt where he describes the inspiration behind their tool:

"What got us started on Swivel was the belief that our best insights into data usually happened in 'public' in a social way.
And that instead of knowing what we were looking for ahead of time, many of the best insights often came while going rapid fire (well as fast as possible in Excel at the time) from one hypothesis to the next.
That's why when you see a data set like this in Swivel you'll see that it's not about pre-configuring the visualization you think you want, but instead rapidly cruising through all sorts of variations."

Thanks for the comment, Brian - I don't think I can add much to that!

Thursday 25 January 2007

Linden Labs - They know parody when they see it :-)

I hope this is a start of a trend - Darren Barefoot blogs about this recent experience with tech lawyers who have a sense of humour:

Yesterday I launched this one-page Second Life satire site. Today I awoke from my nap to a letter (via the comments on the announcement) from Linden Labs, the creators of Second Life. ‘Ah, well’, I though, ‘here come the lawyers’.

But no. To their enormous credit, they sent me what I can only describe as a ‘proceed and permitted’ (instead of ‘cease and desist’) letter. Here’s an excerpt:

We do not believe that reasonable people would argue as to whether the website located at constitutes parody – it clearly is. Linden Lab is well known among its customers and in the general business community as a company with enlightened and well-informed views regarding intellectual property rights, including the fair use doctrine, open source licensing, and other principles that support creativity and self-expression. We know parody when we see it.

Very funny!

Wednesday 24 January 2007

Why "Super Users" are the new programmers

Like Rod Boothby, I've also been thinking about Jason Kolb's argument as to why users are not programmers - Kolb says:

"I think you would find that a very minimal percentage of people would count "macro writing" or any type of "programming" as part of their repetoire, and I think many of them will recoil at the thought of writing an entire application."

and Boothby responds:

"Jason's skepticism is reasonable, if you assume that customized applications require users to write procedural code. What if, however, they did not have to write code?"

I'd like to suggest, as a counterpoint to both positions, that the line between simple macro writing (or recording), "scripting" (particularly Web-based applications) and (for want of a better word) real programming is a lot smaller than it used to be. This is important because even if the tools are available to create drag and drop Web 2.0 or Enterprise 2.0 applications, it doesn't mean that every user will want to or have the analytical skill to create their own applications. However, what these new tools will do is further shift the power to develop out of the IT department and further into the hands of advanced users.

In doing this "super users" will be able to create far more powerful and wider reaching applications that they have done in the past. For example, the clever spreadsheet "macro" that they shared with a few users on the network drive will suddenly be available to everyone on the company intranet as an enterprise tool.

But this will in turn create all sorts of risks. However, as we've seen with other social software applications it is the actual social nature of Web 2.0 applications that provides a safety net for avoiding problems and continuous improvement. So here's the catch for organisations that want the kind of drag and drop programming championed by Boothby - Enterprise 2.0 is a complete package - you still have to implement the "social" bit too to get the benefits of the technology. If not, you better restrict them to the IT department.

Social Data Analysis... But what about compliance?

OK, when I heard about Swivel the other day I thought it was good, but Many Eyes from IBM's Alphaworks is even more impressive because of the charts available, including network maps and treemaps - something even Excel can't do (as far as I'm aware).

Both Many Eyes and Swivel also hint at the possibility of providing private access to graphs and data (Swivel talks about a fee-based "professional" version), but I can equally see potential for a "social data analysis" tool like this inside the firewall with options to restrict data to groups or specific users. Of course sharing the data as widely as possible is what's its all about.

Its also interesting to consider with these social data analysis tools that not only are they making data analysis "social", but I can also see tools like begin to challenge our concept of a basic information unit like a "document".

Think about this - typically to create an ad hoc graph you might paste the data into a spreadsheet and use the tools in the spreadsheet to create the graphic. This activity is something people must be doing everyday all around the world and the net output of course is a spreadsheet file containing the data and the graph that gets stored somewhere. But in a Web 2.0 mashed up world there is no concept of a document with social data analysis tools. In fact it would defeat the purpose.

Unfortunately for an enterprise thinking of using social data analysis tools I can see that this may create a compliance and records management problem, unless the current generation of electronic document and records management systems evolve to automatically capture both permanent structured data and transient unstructured in context together. Now, that's going to be interesting to watch.

Tuesday 23 January 2007

IBM Lotus launches it response to Enterprise 2.0

Thanks to Brian Mulvaney at Attensa I was introduced this week to a few more CSC bloggers, one in particular I had already a connection with via this blog and common interests without knowing that we worked for the same company! As result a few new people have been added to my blogroll:

At the moment Stu in particular is reporting on the product announcements made at Lotusphere 2007. Like Stu I'd like to understand a bit better what Lotus Quickr is all about:

Well this did take me by surprise.  Its a “a new Web 2.0-based collaborative content offering“.  Now apart from that I don’t know very much.  I do have some questions though.

  • Is it Quickplace scaled up or down?
  • Does it integrate with the OS file system?
  • Does that integration include support for new metadata in Vista?

The screen shots would lead you to believe that the client is a form of information aggregator allowing you to share content with others (presumably via some Quickr infrastructure).  Now I wish I was at Lotusphere!.    The Quickr Teamspace also looks interesting hinting at a combined blogging, wiki and document sharing platform each supported with RSS subscription.

If Quickr is a single product then this for me would fill the gap between simple Quickplace deployments and enterprise websphere portal solutions.  In fact it would position itself against Windows Sharepoint Services 3.0 - however to compete there the price point needs to be very attractive, i.e. free.  Quickr will obviously, as confirmed in the press release have the in-built integration with Lotus products which will differentiate it from WSS 3.0 for IBM shops.

There is also connection with Attensa who have developed something called "HannoverDJ":

The HannoverDJ is an easy to use tool based on the Attensa Feed Server and IBM’s Hannover Application [Lotus Notes 8] that combines the power of activity based computing with Web feed technology to deliver the right information, to right people, at the right time for the right activity.

The mashup gives users -- the information DJs -- command over information coming from multiple information platforms that are interdependent, but often loosely defined and uncoupled.

So maybe IBM Lotus have been listening after all?

Beyond HR Self-Service available for download

With so much going on this week its difficult to know where to start, but I'm going to be selfish by talking about myself first! You might remember that a few years ago I wrote an article for the IHRIM Journal about HR Self-Service. Well I've finally made a copy available for download in my articles archive - the full reference of the original article is:

Dellow, J, 2005, 'Beyond HR Self-Service (PDF, 127KB): Empowering Staff While Creating Social Capital in Virtualized Organizations', IHRIM Journal, Vol. IX, No. 4, pp.18-20.

While you are there you might also to have a look the related, but much shorter, piece I wrote even earlier called Empower customers with self-service, not automation (PDF, 77KB).

Friday 19 January 2007

A better way to search Wikipedia?

Care of a post and analysis by Steve Rubel, a new stand alone search engine for Wikipedia called Wikiseek has been launched by Searchme. The about page on Wikiseek explains why they think it is different:

"The contents of Wikiseek are restricted to Wikipedia pages and only those sites which are referenced within Wikipedia, making it an authoritative source of information less subject to spam and SEO schemes.

Wikiseek utilizes Searchme's category refinement technology, providing suggested search refinements based on user tagging and categorization within Wikipedia, making results more relevant than conventional search engines."

However, while its a nice idea, I don't yet see as Rubel suggests in his analysis that through search Wikipedia will become a threat to Google - you would have to think that Google could create a similar search fairly quickly if they saw value in it. One other observation I have is that while you can search Wikipedia, there is no direct link to the Wikipedia site!

However from an Enterprise 2.0 point of view, this would also be a great search concept for an intranet search where typically the Web approach to search doesn't always quite work.

BTW Talking of Wikipedia and helping humans to search, this reminds me of another story where researchers have developed a program that uses Wikipedia to help search engines make sense of the world in order to improve search results.

Wednesday 17 January 2007

OK, RSS may not be in so bad a place after all

eWeek provides examples of companies where RSS Offers Relief from Enterprise E-Mail Overload (care of Moonwatcher), offering a more positive view than we've heard in my last post. For example at Procter & Gamble they are using a very Enterprise 2.0 approach to deploy RSS internally:

"Identify those users with a bent toward new technology, send them feeds from NewsGator Enterprise Server software and let adoption run its course"

Tuesday 16 January 2007

RSS not a hit with online consumers or intranets

Clearly those of us who have adopted RSS are in the minority - care of Trevor Cook, Scientific American reports on the poor uptake of RSS. Quoting Charlene Li from Forrester, she tells us that their research shows only 2% of online consumers bother with RSS. Incidentally Li also reported earlier in the year on her blog that "only 1% of online households in North America regularly download and listen to podcasts".

Similarly, while Jakob Nielsen doesn't have a lot that's interesting to say about Enterprise 2.0, I did come across this article (you'll need to scroll down) from earlier in the year talking about email newsletter that examines the value of RSS feeds - he concludes:

"Feeds are a cold medium in comparison with email newsletters. Feeds do not form the same relationship between company and customers that a good newsletter can build. We don't have data to calculate the relative business value of a newsletter subscriber compared to a feeds subscriber, but I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out that companies make ten times as much money from each newsletter subscriber. Given that newsletters are a much more powerful and warm medium, it is probably best for most companies to encourage newsletter subscriptions and promote them over website feeds."

I wonder if Nielsen isn't confusing the value of content with the value of connection that a blog, rather than straight news, feed can create?

Wednesday 10 January 2007

Apple, Inc's new iPhone

Unless you've been living in a cave, you will of course know that Apple have launched their new iPhone (also see Wikipedia's entry on the iPhone) today at Macworld 2007 (see the coverage on Engadget) in the US. Basically its a PDA phone on steroids.

Other than the basic Apple design approach to the thing, two key features stand out:

  • New patented "multi-touch" touch screen, rather than a keypad or stylus.
  • Runs on Apple's OS X, which means a whole range of integrations and software can run on the iPhone, including a "Full strength" Web browser (Safari), other widgets and special Google and Yahoo services.

The fact alone that the iPhone is running on OS X should make it an excellent information platform. But if we take a step back, is there anything else revolutionary about the iPhone (rather than excellent execution of the converged?

For example, unless I've missed something, there is nothing particularly "social" in the base iPhone. Nokia, Microsoft and I'm sure there are others out there that have at least tried to do something interesting in respect to innovating with mobile technology, e.g. Zune and Sensor.

Also, the specs I've seen say its setup to run on GSM and EDGE. EDGE sounds like it is near 3G, so does that mean it will run on the next generation mobile phone networks rolled out in Australia?

Tuesday 9 January 2007

Lie Detector Technology for the Masses

Talk about the consumerisation of Internet technology... you can now get a free lie detector plugin for Skype from KishKish. What next, IVR for home users? (go on, I dare you!)

Technorati tags: , , ,

Michael Sampson's review of SharePoint 2007

Earlier in the year, New Zealand-based Michael Sampson closed up shop at his collaborative technologies research business to take up a full-time position with Foldera. Luckily he has continued to write and maintains a summary page of his "Articles, Blog Posts and Ramblings" via his personal blog.

Most recently In the Nov/Dec edition of online magazine, MessagingNews, he writes a review of Microsoft SharePoint 2007, including a persuasive argument (on paper at least) for hosting internal enterprise blogs and wikis on this platform:

"IT strategists hate the unnecessary implementation of point solutions, when general-purpose platforms are available instead. In this case, the ability to have cool new functionality whilst running on a consolidated platform and using a single authentication foundation (Active Directory) is very compelling."

It reflects some of my own predictions in my 2005 article on enterprise Wikis (PDF, 121KB) that you'll find in my own articles archive.

Business Continuity and Web-based applications: Sync and Distribute

A few days ago I had a wibble moment with some of the Web-based tools use on a regular basis - for a short period (minutes if that) I couldn't reach Gmail or Google search. Not sure if the problem was the Google end, with my ISP or somewhere in between. Anyway, with recent Internet outages in Asia, it again made me ponder the business continuity issues of Web-based applications.

I'm not the only one to experience wibbles with Web-application services recently, but I think Charlie Wood is (now) approaching the problem with the right attitude - he describes his proactive approach to business continuity:

"I keep a copy of my most important data from on my laptop using Spanning Salesforce, and thanks to the magic of RSS, it's always up to date. Similarly, I synchronize all of my Google Calendar events with iCal running on my laptop using Spanning Sync. That way if Google Calendar is offline I still have full access to my calendar."

However, I think synchronise might be the wrong activity to emphasis - maybe what we should be trying to do is distribute data and application further to ensure business continuity:

  • Use multiple data stores in different physical locations and on different physical devices; and
  • Use multiple applications and service providers to access these data stores.

Synchronisation is of course important for keeping the data accessed current, but I can't help thinking of JP Rangaswami's experience of his blog's Web hosting failure and how his content was recovered again:

"The community has been fantastic, coming up with rich and varied suggestions as to how I could salvage the blog. A number of you scraped Google caches and sent the salvage on, particularly Chris and Doc. One, Myrto, had a complete set of my posts in Outlook via Newsgator. Some of you, particularly Malc, pointed me at the feedburner cache where the last 73 posts were available. My Mac account had a faithful copy of all comments received for moderation. While Google, Wayback Machine and Feedburner were less than complete, Niall found that Alexa had the complete store."

Monday 8 January 2007

Enterprise 2.0 in 2006 and into 2007

No time to comment on these, but I've had them flagged for a while a posts of interest about Enterprise 2.0 so I thought I'd be a little lazy and just list them:

And finally, for those looking to the future:

Phew! :-)

Saturday 6 January 2007

The Hidden Web: Microformats and the The Next Internet

I hadn't taken a lot of interest in the detail of microformats until reading this post on the InformationWeek blog that points to a post by Mozilla's Alex Faaborg that explains what they are and how they might turn Web browsers into information brokers:

"Much in the same way that operating systems currently associate particular file types with specific applications, future Web browsers are likely going to associate semantically marked up data you encounter on the Web with specific applications, either on your system or online. This means the contact information you see on a Web site will be associated with your favorite contacts application, events will be associated with your favorite calendar application, locations will be associated with your favorite mapping application, phone numbers will be associated with your favorite VOIP application, etc."

But this makes me wonder, if a Web browser becomes an information broker doesn't that almost make it at most an operating system (OS) or just plain redundant as we know it? This reminds of an article I started to draft back in 2003, but never published... until now... 

The Next Internet – The Hidden Web
James Dellow, August 2003 (Draft 4)

Web services and XML have the potential to turn our idea of the Internet upside down. If you have heard of Web services, XML and associated technologies like RSS then I know you probably think you knew this already. But forget Internet 2, the Hidden Web is quite literally where the action will be.

So, what does this mean for the average user?

Well let’s say you need to buy something. In the future you will boot up your shopping application of choice; maybe its open source or even provided by a retailer. Either way you won’t type in a URL. The Web appliance will bring the shop to you – or rather Web services will work the Web for you, the Hidden Web. And while it might be based on Microsoft or Linux, someone you trust will brand this Web appliance and help make the choices for you.

Or maybe you need to communicate. You’ll use your PDA-phone or the communication Web appliance on your wireless laptop. It’s your choice but Web services will bring news, e-mail and instant messaging to where you are, on whatever device you are using. Here Microsoft, Netscape or even AOL might be your brand of choice – then again it could just as easily be Nokia or Nike.

Why is this vision of the future so different? Let me explain - when you type in an URL you point your browser to a Web site. You go to that site to interact with it in some way. Maybe you download some information, ask a question or order a product. But browsing is a problem. Faced with millions of Web site around world how do you know which to use? How do keep up with the changes and new information? Who do you trust?

Ross Dawson (2003) presents a compelling idea of the “living network” – the Internet as a global brain where users collectively filter information for each other. One of the drivers is technology like XML because it makes organisations more transparent and service delivery virtual. But he still concedes the need to check a variety of sources to avoid global “group-think”. The expectation here is that every productive human, or human that wants to become productive, will need to be highly information literate and have the time to participate in the living network. Unfortunately somewhere along line some one actually has to do the work.

Perhaps what we have overlooked is the how Web services and XML change the way we will actually make use of the Internet. Some people, like Chad Dickerson in Infoworld, have begun to recognise this. While singing the praises of RSS, an XML based approach that allows content from many different sources to be aggregated by users with an RSS newsreader, he complains that “explaining to the uninitiated why RSS newsreaders are so compelling can be frustrating… that reminds me of how it felt to describe the Web to people who hadn’t yet experienced it.” (Dickerson, 2003).

If you’re thinking push technology isn’t new then consider that the original versions were proprietary and based on old industrial order business models where the service was the business. But in the Hidden Web, the “service” is the Internet. Another way of thinking about this is to consider utilities – are you buying electricity or the electricity service? Sure the electricity usage you pay for funds the network, but you don’t pay directly for access. Now its possible we could flip the model but people don’t like to pay for what they can’t see. And Web services work best when they are invisible.

What people want are services, content and products. Here I agree with Dawson and other commentators, the Information Revolution has created a fundamental change in the way we do business. Virtual enterprises have appeared, fueled by interoperability that was first provided by humble HTML (hey you can see what I know!) and now XML (hey, do something with this!). But what about the individual users on the Web who are still stuck in the original Web paradigm where they go to the data? The new paradigm will be that the data comes to the user. RSS is just the beginning of this change. Other technical experts such as Tim Bray, a co-inventor of XML, back up this view. He was recently quoted as saying “a Web browser itself is not a good way to track a dynamic resource…[RSS has] the potential to impact how everyone interacts with the Web” (Moore, 2003).

Web services and XML based technologies will create a fundamentally different user experience that will make people more productive without being more information literate. Of course the missing piece is who will tell you what information you need to access. Nothing will change in that respect and a few highly information literate and branded knowledge workers will continue to play a role in helping us to select what data we need. But what will change is how we access information. The future evolution of the Hidden Web we have glimpsed in RSS shows an end to the prominence that Web browsers have so far enjoyed.

So stop giving me your URL – because what am I going to do with that?


Dawson, R., 2003, Presentation at the New South Wales Knowledge Management Forum, hosted at Standards Australia, Sydney, 7 August 2003.

Dickerson, C., 2003, ‘RSS Killed the Infoglu Star’, Infoworld, p.32, 7 July 2003.

Moore, C., 2003, ‘Debate Sounds Over Weblog Standards’, Infoworld, p.18, 21 July 2003.

Selfish software launched

A lot of social software and Web 2.0 applications are based on an idea of commons and contribution without expecting anything back in a measured or formal sense. Think of the 1 percent rule. However, indirectly everyone benefits... at least that's the theory.

But now in the peer-to-peer (P2P) space we have BitTyrant:

"BitTyrant is designed to make efficient use of your scarce upload bandwidth, rewarding those users whose upload allocations are fair and only allocating excess capacity to other users."

The academics and students at the University of Washington that developed BitTyrant say that this isn't as "selfish" as it sounds:

"A big difference between BitTyrant and existing BitTorrent clients is that BitTyrant can detect when additional upload contribution is unlikely to improve performance. If a client were truly selfish, it might opt to withhold excess capacity, reducing performance for other users that would have received it. However, our current BitTyrant implementation always contributes excess capacity, even when it might not improve performance. Our goal is to improve performance, not minimize upload contribution."

This actually sounds similar to how the old dial-up Bulletin Boards used to work, except the upload to download ratios were typically a lot softer. However, at the end of the day this is really more about sharing of a limited resource (bandwidth) than ensuring people share content. So unfortunately, if this does impact on the way P2P works its more likely to impact on those where bandwidth is a premium.

UPDATE: Care of Brady Forrest on the O'Reilly Radar blog, the Monkey Bites blog at Wired magazine provides futher commentary on BitTyrant and other anti-social P2P software. Don't forget to read the comments too.

Thursday 4 January 2007

Size counts, for email inboxes

Following on from yesterday's post but this time picking up on the thread of Google vs Microsoft, Charlie Wood in his Moonwatcher blog picks out a great comment from an Exchange admin about Gmail's 2GB limit and the idea from Microsoft that the same should be offered inside the firewall:

"2GB in an Enterprise Exchange environment?
Please shoot the SAN administrator now. OH and the budget personnel.
Please. I have over 30000 users and their mailboxes range from 30mb to 1gb in limits (1gb reserved for a select few - less than 10 people)
I'm already using almost a Terabyte of space on the SAN. Going to 2GB per person would bring me over 60TB because you KNOW "If it's there, they'll use it"
I guess I'll start having bake sales daily to see if we can generate enough dough to get a 60TB SAN for this."

Wood himself comments that "It looks like Microsoft is set to lose—and lose big—to Google. Again".

Wednesday 3 January 2007

My experience of Lotus Notes at Ernst & Young

I continue to enjoy Rod Boothby's Innovation Creators blog, but I do agree with some of the comments in this recent post (about the growing success of Google's enterprise email service) that he has misrepresented Ernst & Young's use of Lotus Notes.

Firstly I should say that I'm not surprised that Boothby honestly says that "While I worked for EY, I never saw Notes used for anything other than email". This is probably because the Financial Services area he worked in was the smallest group (Accounting and Tax being the largest) and they simply never invested in enterprise-wide Lotus Notes systems as much the other areas. They typically had business requirements that were different from the larger areas who did build customised Lotus Notes applications and databases.

My experiences with Lotus Notes at Ernst & Young on the otherhand, where I worked in their global knowledge management and extranet teams between 1999 and 2004, were very different. As well as working with their global knowledge management tools, also based on Notes, in Australia I was also involved in developing some innovative tools with Lotus Notes. This included a portal in the Lotus Notes client ("EYA.Zone") that looked as good as any Web-based intranet I've seen since and a hugely popular wiki-style tool called "NavigatorLite" (we hadn't heard of wikis then, and thought of it as an electronic knowledge map that any team could manage themselves without needing a developer). In fact it was the experience of watching how NavigatorLite was used that first started my interest in user-generated software tools like Quickplace (a Web-based Lotus Notes application often used for projects - see my case study published here), EMC's eRoom, and more recently the whole Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 space.

However none of this really changes my earlier comments about Boothby and the future of Lotus Notes. However I should add that even in my time at E&Y it was clear that Web-based clients were quickly becoming the preferred user interface, and its important to recognise that in a Web browser end-users don't really care or know what platform the systems is running on - which bring us back to my much earlier posts about the grey area of form versus function in social software and here. Its not important what it runs on, its what you do with it that counts.