Sunday 28 October 2007

Getting introduced to Bluepulse

I spent Friday night out with Geoff McQueen from Internetrix and Frank Marzano from Itree (plus our respective partners) to watch the local basketball team win a game, which luckily they did. As you know, I've recently discovered Twitter - however, Geoff introduced me to Bluepulse:

"Bluepulse is a free mobile social messenger for you and your friends. You can message your friends from bluepulse using their email address, phone number, name or group name. You can receive all incoming messages and profile updates in 1 inbox. You can also build your profile and share pictures and videos with 1 friend or a whole group really easily."

Bluepulse is very much focused on the mobile social experience, however, just like Facebook and Twitter etc, its built on an open platform that third-party developers can use to create new mobile widgets. So, its a mobile social messenger and a mobile widget platform wrapped up together. BTW Bluepulse has origins in Australia, which Robert Scoble is pretty impressed with.

Looking for the magic in team collaboration and social software

I'm not quite sure what to make of this new Gartner magic quadrant on Team Collaboration and Social Software:

"The collaboration support market is being revitalized, with buyers and sellers looking to add social interaction in the context of broad collaboration support. We map how new and established vendors focusing on teaming, communities and social interaction are positioned in this changing marketplace."

SocialText have shared the quadrant online, but not the detail.

SocialText just sound excited to have just made it over the line to be classed as one of the only two visionaries (the other is SuiteTwo); but there are no leaders and IBM and Microsoft are the only challengers. So if we ignore the four exceptions, everyone is a niche player - which actually makes sense, but doesn't provide much value in terms of analysis.

Dan Farber points out that the quadrant isn't an apples for apples comparison and then makes a rather bold prediction that:

"As social software matures, consolidation among vendors will occur and comprehensive suites, rather than best of breed, will dominate enterprises."

I'm not so sure - do you view team collaboration and social software as one or more applications or a stack of capabilities that enable team collaboration and social interaction? For that reason, I was surprised not to see others in the Enterprise Web 2.0 stack like Cogenz or Attensa mentioned, but I guess more fundamentally it depends on how you define the scope of team collaboration and social software - e.g. as a starting point I would at least expect to see some or all of the elements of McAfee's SLATES model addressed in each. For that matter, where is Google in this?

I'll guess I'll just have to get hold of the actual report to see if it makes any more sense.

UPDATE: Ross Mayfield and Jeff Brainard from SocialText are going to send me a copy of the report. Thanks guys -
I'll let you know what I think.

Wednesday 24 October 2007

Millennials, Process Continuity, Leadership and Discontinuity

I think we're all familiar with the impact of generational change in the workplace, but it never hurts to find an accessible and well written piece on the topic - in this case, Microsoft's Daniel W. Rasmus writes in NASA's ASK online magazine about the next generation workforce and project management. As well as offering some tips for retaining millennials he discusses the following issues:

  • Process Continuity - The next-generation worker's interest in a diversity of experience may lead to high rates of turnover. This means that organizations will lose knowledge unless they can find ways to rapidly transfer it to new members, or to retain it in knowledge bases or other codified forms. We at Microsoft are seeing a growing use of wikis and blogs as impromptu knowledge bases.
  • Leadership - Top-down or command-and-control methods will prove less effective for the next generation, but millennials can be brought together for a mission they consider meaningful.
  • Discontinuity - The coming retirement of baby boomers will be an upheaval unprecedented in size and impact. Organizations that thrive will be the ones that use their imagination, adapt quickly to change, entice employees with opportunities for learning, and retain them because they continue to challenge them and empower them to use their knowledge and skills to benefit both the organization and their team.

Thanks, Mike.

Tuesday 23 October 2007

Twitterquette or twittersnobbery?

I hadn't thought about the need for "twitterquette", since Twitter only gives you 140 characters to play with you wouldn't think there is much damage you can do. But I've discovered Robert Scoble has set the anti-pattern for twitterquette:

"The 10 rules of Twitter (and how I break every one): If you follow the talk over on Twitter you’ll see that there are some unwritten “rules” and that I am breaking lots of those rules and pissing lots of people off. I break the rules so you don’t have to."

Twittergram is a good example of stretching the Twitter paradigm - it lets you send a short tweet with a url to short MP3 sound file that you can upload or record over the phone. Apparently some people hate them.

Scoble's post is funny, but I prefer this comment from Kelly @

"There is 1 rule of Twitter: Do whatever you want and if people don’t like it they can stop following you."

What ever the medium, I think all social software is little like that - how we use it will be defined by how we choose to use it, not how others tell us to use it. The other approach can only result in a kind of twittersnobbery where only those who get it, get to play.

But what do you think?

I want to work for John Holland

Not really (well, I'm always open to offers...) but great to see a company see the light about Facebook and reverse a pointless and clearly damaging decision in the war for talent:

"CONSTRUCTION giant John Holland says allowing employees to access social networking site Facebook can play a role in attracting and keeping young workers...

...John Holland, which employs approximately 4000 people nationwide, recently locked out its employers from Facebook, but after several weeks decided to restore access...

...'It doesn't really matter for us if Facebook is open or closed, it's not going to send us broke, and we can monitor what's going on.'"

Ross Dawson is going to love this :-)

Friday 19 October 2007

What can you do with two cables?

Interesting post, from the author behind the book called the Long Tail, about his two network cables:

"On my desk at work I have two ethernet cables. One is black and one is white. The black one is connected to our corporate network. I use that one when I want to print things. I could also use it for Internet access and stuff, but I don't because the corporate network blocks a number of ports, including those used for Skype and Second Life. It's also pretty slow.

The white cable, meanwhile, is a standard consumer-grade DSL connection to the Internet, with nothing blocked at all. Our local IT staff installed it by popular demand, possibly without checking with headquarters (we love our local IT staff!). It's fast. I use it all the time."

But make sure you read the comments too - I'm glad that someone mentions the Jericho Forum, as in the long term deperimeterization is a much better approach than having two cables!

Incidentally, I've certainly come across the concept of dual-LANs in an organisation - e.g. production and office networks that are kept separate.

The makings of a big, smart ball of string

While I'm not a beta groupie by any means, I feel like I should be excited about the currently being hyped "semantic web" application called but I just can't. From the screen shots it looks a bit like another social bookmarking site, without the personality of Facebook.

Perhaps its because the exciting stuff is all behind the scenes? In an interview with Read/WriteWeb, they explain that will support:

  • Resource Description Framework (RDF) and Simple Protocol and RDF Query Language (SPARQL);
  • Web Ontology Language (OWL)*;
  • Extensible Stylesheet Language (XSL), which is used for defining Extensible Markup Language (XML) document transformation and presentation; and
  • Gleaning Resource Descriptions from Dialects of Languages (GRDDL) - this is apparently used for for getting RDF data out of XML and XHTML documents...

Hmm. Still not excited? Basically what all this means is that becomes an engine for linking together content and data in a meaningful way, leading eventually to the possibility of machine intelligence that users and other applications can tap into. In fact the more we put in, the better it will get. Now, isn't that exciting? Actually this reminds me that many people have had the idea of using Wikipedia as a source of machine intelligence, but something like should make it easier and better.

Tim O'Reilly provides more background information, but comments:

"I'm going to withhold judgment till I can get my hands on the service. Until the system is populated with a lot of data -- far more than shows up in the demos -- we won't know whether we've spun a smooth twine, or a gnarly knot. But I'll look forward to trying. I'm seeing a number of startups trying to work this same problem. None has yet gone live. But I'm confident that eventually someone will make some headway, and I'll be excited if twine gets there first."

UPDATE 2: Also worth reading is Nicholas Carr's review of and also Freebase (another semantic web "brain") from earlier in the year - CineSpin gives you an idea of how an application cap tap into semantic data . He also outlines's business model:

"Business model? It’s a work in progress. In the near term, expect the obligatory AdSense ads. Longer term, Spivack is counting on using the site’s insight into its users and their interests to develop a custom system for serving highly personalized ads and product recommendations. More interesting, Twine will offer a for-fee professional version (the basic version is free) aimed at business people and, in particular, teams of workers doing research or otherwise tracking and analyzing information. Spivack says he plans to allow outside services to tap into the Twine database through open APIs, although heavy users will likely have to pay for the privilege of incorporating the Twine brain into their own products."

*Of could this could also be Ordinary Wizarding Level, a test of magical aptitude in the Harry Potter novel series, which would be a lot more interesting to most of us.

UPDATE: BTW is another site that doesn't like IE6 - you don't even see all the content...

Emergence and Being Digital

I thought it worthwhile repeating a comment I posted on the FastForward blog in response to Jim McGee's post on emergence and Enterprise 2.0 - his post is too long to quote but I said:

"I think part of the problem is the view that emergence is just a fancy word for "messiness". Try throwing around a few copies of Emergence by Steven Johnson. However, you're right that "Failure in the market is tolerated in ways that don’t translate well inside organizations" but even before Web 2.0 it was possible to build systems that allow for failure (or waste) - after all its all just bits and bytes (think Negroponte)."

The reference to Negroponte is a pointer to Nicholas Negroponte and his now famous book, Being Digital.

Still talking about collaboration

There are still some more posts about collaboration coming down the line:

James R's has also promised to reintroduce comments to his blog :-)

Thursday 18 October 2007

Sharepoint playing nicely with Enterprise Web 2.0

What have Microsoft Sharepoint, Atlassian's Confluence wiki and Newsgator all got in common?

There has been plenty of analysis and commentary on this news:

  • Ross says that "It shows that Microsoft recognizes that its Enterprise 2.0 offering (what Microsoft calls “social computing”) needs bolstering."
  • On Read/WriteWeb, "This is another great example of big vendors partnering with more agile, and smarter, startups to create better Web Office functionality in their products. It's win-win for both companies".
  • Jevon MacDonald comments "Sharepoint integration is a no-brainer for almost any enterprise software company... Newsgator and Atlassian have built fantastic businesses without having to focus solely, or at all, on Sharepoint, but both have undoubtedly been feeling some pressure from customers to offer a higher level of integration" and goes on to ask some critical questions about why and what this means for both of these vendors.
  • Euan also said something funny about it, but something that only other poms might understand.
  • And there is plenty more if you going looking...

What do I think? Its all good - remembering that Sharepoint is really a broad horizontal portal platform first, I know of at least one company that was concerned about the silos created by having both Sharepoint and Confluence in place, but the connector could be the way of bringing everything together. However, lets not forget that Social Text also has an integration for Sharepoint that it released last year and I'm not sure if that revolutionised how Sharepoint is being used.

I'm also increasingly of the opinion that RSS is an essential infrastructure service in the Enterprise Web 2.0 stack, so I'm also very positive about what Newsgator is doing and in fact see this having a broader impact than a wiki component, like the Confluence Connector.

Also, bearing in mind Euan's point, its not (just?) the technology that makes Enterprise 2.0.

Tuesday 16 October 2007

More chatter about collaboration

Some more chatter about collaboration:

The Shifting Sands of Collaboration

A few people in my neighbourhood are talking about collaboration right now:

Last month I also responded to an earlier article by James Robertson about collaboration, pointing some of my own models for thinking about it. You'll also find a reference to an important model I have used for some time in my recent Intranet 2.0 slides (see slides 13 and 25), which is based on the work of Evaristo and Munkvold - see their Collaborative Infrastructure Formation in Virtual Projects [PDF] paper as a starting point.

Stepping back from these conversations, which are all interesting, what interests me at the moment is observing the shift of what were once collaborative applications into the infrastructure level. For example, we might once have looked at presence as specific functionality provided by an instant messaging application, but today I imagine it as a common messaging service provided at the infrastructure level that other collaborative applications will tap into.

Something to think about: As collaboration applications descend down the collaborative infrastructure stack and become services, will it become harder to distinguish between collaboration, "knowledge management", content management, social network and other information management tools? And how will this affect the ability of organisations to meet different information objectives?

Wiki is a verb and a noun

Responding to my last post about wikis, Mike Cannon-Brookes from Atlassian made a great point:

"One of my favourite points to make is that a 'wiki' per se is not an application, it's a feature. A wiki by itself is a useful tool, but you can magnify it's use greatly in combination with other features (for example social features, blogs, comments etc)."

He's right - wiki is a verb and a noun. That fits nicely with my ongoing muse about form versus function, one of the central points in my recent Intranet 2.0 presentation.

UPDATE: Matt also responds, also with a good comment:

"Wikis are essentially about simplicity and openness. So RS's comment that you'll find traces of wikiness (to a greater or lesser extent) on intranets going forward is right, I reckon. And lots of things will get badged wikis. But are they simple? And can I edit them? Oh I have to master CSS? There's an approval process? Ahem."

Monday 15 October 2007

The Trouble with LinkedIn Answers

I still like LinkedIn and don't necessarily think its a bad thing to have a less intense online networking space. Using LinkedIn is pretty much event drive - e.g. adding someone to your network, responding to an invitation, finding someone, etc. When LinkedIn Answers first appeared I really liked the idea - it provides an extra reason to login to LinkedIn and helps to build social captial. But, is it just me or is there a problem with LinkedIn Answers?

IMHO the stream of questions coming through the Answers pipe is becoming too much and LinkedIn desperately needs to provide a more effective way for filtering questions, based on both my interests and my LinkedIn network (its partially there, but the functionality is limited - i.e. I can't do much with the RSS feed to filter on those attributes). There also needs to be a better mechanism for people who are thinking of asking a question to tap into past answers.

One solution might be to introduce user tagging, along side their formal categories. I would also like to have the ability to rate questions, not just answers. And how about a measure of how many questions someone has asked versus how many answered?

What do you think?

Is the term "wiki" no longer useful?

The guys at Atlassian should know all about wiki adoption, and they've posted some slides that explain how.

However, its well worth reading Ray Sims's analysis of these slides and also another wiki case study, Avenue A | Razorfish. I particularly concur with his comment about "overloading of 'wiki' risks making the term no longer useful as descriptor of an editable web page, but rather confused as a general descriptor for an 'enterprise 2.0 intranet' overall." I've said similar things myself in response to the Avenue A | Razorfish case study ("Their wiki sounds very much like a portal, but a portal implemented in a wiki or Web 2.0 style").

Generally speaking I see a couple of different meanings attached to the term "wiki":

  • Its traditional meaning - from Wikis for Dummies:
    • The pages must be stored in a central, shared repository.
    • Anyone should be able to edit pages.
    • Editing should be easy and accessible and not require special tools.
    • Formatting information pages should be much simpler than using HTML.
  • Wiki as an expression of Enterprise 2.0 - in other words the technical functionality of its traditional meaning plus a shift in organisational culture that reflects them, e.g. anyone can edit is mirrored in a flat organisational hierarchy.
  • Wiki as a cheap or open source Web content management system.
  • "Wikaportal" - I know its a horrible word, but effectively what I mean is the advanced use of a wiki as a cheap or open source Web content management system as a place to host other applications and/or mash ups - my feeling is that if you advance to this stage you start to break its traditional meaning, unless the applications or mash ups are still user driven by the majority.

Personally, what I think makes Atlassian's Confluence so popular is that as well as meeting some key enterprise requirements (for more, read Wiki - The New Facilitator) it generally sticks to the fundamental rule of simplicity. I hope they don't forget that.

Sunday 14 October 2007

Mechanical + Social = Rich Presence

I recently posted about the role and value of microblogging, including some thoughts about its longer term direction. Mike Gotta adds fuel to those ideas with a couple of posts, with the most important talking about presence:

"Presence right now is horribly deficit and simplistic. I believe presence should not be defacto tied solely around a unified communication system - we need to step back and think of presence in a broader sense (including the social aspects) than what we have today in terms of being on-hook/off-hook with a phone or whether I am sitting at a PC (or Mac) and available (or not because I am busy with something)."

Gotta also points to this post by Alec Saunders from late last year describing the next iteration of presence:

"Life isn’t black and white.  It’s shades of grey.  We need solutions for managing those shades, rather than the black and white solutions we have in today’s first generation presence systems.  The solution is an evolution of today’s crude presence technologies into an architecture which I’ve described as New Presence."

I think this is the right conversation to have, and Gotta is right about the need to move from theory to actual implementing standards that allow rich presence to be implemented in practice across multiple platforms and channels. However, I can also see there are two dimensions to rich presence:

  1. The "mechanical" presence data that these standards will allow us to combine - this presence data will come from different systems and might include information about our location, events and our social network; and
  2. Our social presence - what we've done, what we are thinking and what we are planning.

In a way this is a bit like the tacit versus explicit concept in knowledge management and for this reason while this mechanical richness will make presence better and allow more people to participate, we shouldn't mistake or ignore the importance of social presence either in the equation.

The other post points to this early review of a Seesmic, which offers potential as a micro-vlogging platform.

Friday 12 October 2007

Gartner's top 10 - what about liquid security?

Graham got to this one before me - Gartner's top 10 IT trends for 2008:

  1. Green IT
  2. Unified Communications
  3. Business Process Management
  4. Metadata Management
  5. Virtualisation 2.0
  6. Mashups and Composite Applications
  7. The Web Platform
  8. Computing Fabric
  9. Real World Web
  10. Social Software

While I'm pleased to see Green IT on this list, I think overall this is actually a bit of a messy list, particularly as it doesn't show the Web 2.0 connection between Unified Communications, Mashups, The Web Platform, Real World Web and Social Software - these aren't separate trends after all. Perhaps they just needed to get 10 in the list?

Also, what about deperimeterization? CSC calls this "liquid security".

Monday 8 October 2007

Knowledge Management - it’s a no-brainer

A nice post from Kim about Knowledge Management:

"I get slightly annoyed when I hear or read that KM is a “fad”. What’s faddish about helping people in an organisation gain access to people or stuff that might support them in solving a problem or making sense of their daily environment or gasp…just learning something? Really, it’s a no-brainer. KM is about creating shared meaning by allowing people to tap into all the living, fluid, tacit stuff that’s going on in an organisation: dynamic conversations, stories, social networks. It’s not about stuffing away content into databases that fast become static and useless because they have been divorced from context and meaning."

She make a good point about "best practices" too... a wise point she taught back in her days as a Chief Knowledge Officer (even if she hated the title).

Sunday 7 October 2007

Arrhhh! Getting sucked in by Twitter...

Ok. I only intended to blog about it, but I got sucked in by the apps:

I haven't picked a desktop Twitter application yet.

The role and value of microblogging

While I haven't signed up to really started using Twitter just yet, my appreciation for the role of microblogging in the Web 2.0 social cloud is growing. Of course the question that is always at top of mind is what exactly is it and what makes it different?

Microblogging, as the name suggests, combines the same reverse chronological order of blogging with frequent short posts of content, typically text - for example, Twitter allows posts of up to 160 characters. Of course this content can potentially be any kind of digital media (as long as it is short and frequent) and a variation on this theme are tumblelogs, although I'm not sure if a separate term is really warranted. What is more interesting is the distinction between linklogs, microblogging and blogging - its more then linklogging and less than blogs that reach the stage of knowledge artefacts.

At a minimum microblogging:

  • Is short and frequent;
  • Provides awareness and presence information about the microblogger, although sometimes this information is about the past or the future; and
  • Can be used to ask questions or point to interesting digital media content;

But there is still something more - microblogging on Facebook is centred on the user's network and similarly Twitter allows "friends" to follow a Twitter feed. In fact, and this makes sense when you consider the volume of posts generated by a microblogger, filtering or aggregating microblogger feeds (like this map) is essential for making microblogging content meaningful. The audience then for microblogging is as important as the microblogging itself, which explains many of the benefits put forward for microblogging - for example, look at the many benefits Luis puts forward for Twittering in this post from earlier in the year.

However, the downside of this is that microblogging appears to be very platform dependent - for example, you can blog on just about any platform you like but to tap into social network filtering you need to share a common platform (I know there is talk of an OPML like standard for social connections and the need to open up social networks).

However, I'm also curious - are we likely to see automated or semi-automated microblogging, in the same way instant messaging applications are gradually evolving into unified communication tools that are location aware? For example, will we see microblogging bots that friends will be able to ask questions, such as where are you now?

And will we ultimately see instant messaging, persistent chat and microblogging merge in some way? In fact, Twitter already offers integration with public instant messaging services and SMS on mobile phones. Similarly, instant messaging is also network centric, with users maintaining a buddy list. So, greater integration makes a lot of sense if we can get broad interoperability working.

Microblogging then is as much about a user's social network as it is about the short posts they publish. But ironically, if microblogging and public social networking sites open up then I can see microblogging as a distinct activity disappearing into the background as part and parcel of the whole Web 2.0 social network experience.

Saturday 6 October 2007

SAP's social network

Only a few days ago while discussing the idea of "Facebook for the enterprise" with someone via e-mail I wrote that "Its certainly worth watching what all the big players have to offer and how they are evolving."

Well, SAP is a big ERP software company and they are certainly looking at Web 2.0 - both from an external product perspective and for their own internal benefit. SAP appear to have two social networking tools that they are working on right now:

Harmony - as the inside the firewall social network - interests me most at this point, and from this "beta" version screenshot it looks like it support user profiles, group membership and awareness (through messages). However, in this variation it looks like it offers extra features such as skill profiling, recommendations and what looks like a Facebook-like Wall (but perhaps only one way).

Web 33 and a third

I'm trying not to get distracted by this debate on Web 3.0. But a theme of the blog around Web 2.0 has always been about trying to understand what's different about the new and the old. However, Web 3.0 is just looking all grey area to me. Or as Ross puts it, just plain meaningless.

Still, I'm not sure why I'm blogging about it! ;-)

Tuesday 2 October 2007

Current Post from the Techmeme Top 20

Since Techmeme kindly provide details of their top 100 sources in an OPML file, I've mashed up in Yahoo! Pipes a feed that gives you the current post from each of the top 20 sources - you can subscribe to it here care of Feedburner:

BTW In case you are wondering, for some reason Yahoo! Pipes can't loop and serve up the current post from all 100 sources, so you'll have to make do with the top 20 instead. 20 is probably enough to stay on top of what's current anyway... I certainly never have time to read all of Techmeme anyway.

Go you tech thing

I'm impressed: Techmeme have launched a leaderboard of the top 100 source most frequently posted on Techmeme over the last 30 days; and there at position 99 today is the Sydney Morning Herald. It might be position 99 out of 100, but at least an Aussie source made it on to the leaderboard :-)